Chapter 1: the Path to Liberation
“The light of freedom lies before me. I will use it to enact my revenge.”
It was dead into the late hours of the night… well, as far as the screens on the fake sky would say. Somehow, a dim light still managed to shine through a barred window which led into a small room. Lying underneath it was a lone Inkling. His purple hair was tied back, but one lock of hair on down on the side of his head.
A door slid open and two figures walked into the room and approached the boy on on the ground.
“Get up!” a harsh voice said, as the boy was awakened with a harsh kick to the chest. The Inkling squirmed, feeling the air get knocked out of him. He gasped for air while grabbing his chest and stared up at his captors… a pair of Octolings.
“Okay! Let’s go!” the Octoling boy said, walking out with his partner. “You’re being transferred to a new cell. Now, I don’t wanna clean squid guts off these walls, so you’d better get the heck out here!”
The boy grasped the wall, finding the strength to stand on his bare feet. He stumbled into the hallway and Octolings harshly grabbed him, dragging him down into another part of the facility. If the slowed down even a little, they’d harshly push him forward.
“This is the one,” the Octoling girl said, approaching the cell at the next cell block.
The boy’s new cell had a bed and even a table. He walked in and the Octolings slammed the door behind him. The sound of it made him jump and turn around. He could hear the soldiers chuckle a bit.
“I’ll admit, it’s a lot nicer than your old cell,” said the Octoling. “So enjoy it, but don’t get used to it! You’re being taken to a new place tomorrow, freak!”
The Octolings walked off, chatting with each other. The boy collapse onto the bed. He couldn’t think about anything, but how tired he was and immediately fell asleep. Even though there was a blanket, it was still freezing in the room, but that was still the least of his troubles…
An Inkling peeked from behind a crate. Her gray hair was covered with a hat and a mask covered her mouth and nose. She wore a green outfit and a pair of black boots. Through a scope she zoomed in on an Octoling patrolling in a tower.
“Agent 2, can you make the shot?” said a voice.
Agent 2 nearly dropped her Splat Charger at the sound. She turned to her partner, another Inkling girl. She had two black locks of hair that were long enough to almost reach the ground and was tipped with pink. A violet colored beanie was on her head with a matching outfit and black boots. She had a pair of shades to cover her eyes.
“Not when you’re talking so loud, Agent 1…” Agent 2 whispered.
“Oh! Sorry!” Agent 1 said, hiding back behind the box.
“We gotta stay quiet, remember?” Agent 2 took aim with the scope on her Splat Charger.
She held her breath, steadied her aim, and locked onto the Octoling. And she fired. It splatted the Octoling instantly.
“Got him,” Agent 2 said, quietly.
The Agents were now free to run around the perimeter of the building. They hid behind crates to hide from the guards on patrol and made their way to the back.
Agent 1 found a ladder and put it against the wall, so they could climb onto the roof. They could have just shot ink on the wall and swam up the wall, but they didn’t want to leave a trail that they were here. The two ran across the roof and busted in through a trapdoor.
Once they landed on the floor inside the building, they found themselves in an armory. Agent 2 ran up to the only Octoling in the room.
“Put your hands up!” Agent 2 said, harshly.
“What the?!” the Octoling said, raising his hands.
“Now hand over your keys!” said Agent 1.
The Octoling handed over his keys. Agent 1 happily took them. Then she bashed him over the head with a roller. He hit his head on a metal cabinet and was out cold.
“Thank-you!” Agent 1 said, cheerfully.
“My cod!” Agent 2 said, looking around. “The cap’n wasn’t joking!”
“They’re just weapons! That can’t-”
“This many, Agent 1?” She yanked Agent 1’s arm to make her partner face her. “This has to mean something! We gotta look around some more so we know where to set the charges.”
Agent 1 unlocked the door and they ran down the hallway. They checked every corner to avoid patrols. Octolings and Octarians were scattered around everywhere. They memorized the path they took and found themselves in a cellblock.
“What is this place?” Agent 1 whispered.
“Looks like a place for prisoners…” said Agent 2.
Suddenly, the two agents could see the whispers of prisoners as they approached the bars. To their horror, they were were fellow Inklings like them. The two agents backed up against each other, staring in horror.
“Okay… I guess the cap’n was right…” Agent 1 said, looking around.
“Forget blowing this place up,” said Agent 2. “We gotta help them.”
“It’s like ten prisoners,” said Agent 2. “And we could use the extra help. They can’t take us all. We just gotta stay quiet.”
“Okay,” said Agent 1. “Well, I’ve got the key…”
Agents 1 and 2 ran to every cell and unlocked them to free the Inklings. They grabbed whatever they could to use as a weapon, but they had to remind them to stay quiet.
Agent 1 opened the last cell and went in to find an Inkling boy asleep on a bed.
“Hey!” Agent 1, said tapping the boy on the shoulder.
The Inkling boy jolted up to a sitting position and tried swatting away Agent 1 in fear.
“Hey!” Agent 1 said, covering her face.
The boy pushed her away and made a run for the door. Luckily, Agent 2 rushed in and grabbed him before he got out. She pinned him against the wall, but he wouldn’t stop kicking and screaming. Agent 2 was forced to cover his mouth.
“Are you trying to get all of us splatted?!” she snapped.
The boy tried to break away but the Agent’s grip was too strong. As soon as calmed down, Agent 2 let him drop to the floor. He grabbed his chest and opened his purple eyes and saw the ones standing before him… were Inklings like him.
“We’re trying to help you,” said Agent 1. “Don’t you want to get out of here?”
The boy looked at them. Clearly he was still shaking, but he shrugged.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” said Agent 1.
“Agent 1… look at him!” said Agent 2.
The two took notice of all the scars and bruises he had. The boy stayed still, feeling scared and embarrassed.
“You’re scared, aren’t you?” said Agent 1.
The boy nodded, wiping his eyes.
“Well, don’t worry!” Agent 1 said, cheerfully. “We’ll make it! It’s that or my name isn’t-”
“Agent 1!” Agent 2 snapped.
“Um… Agent 1?” Agent 1 said, finishing her sentence.
“Oh… right…” said Agent 2. “Anyway, let’s get going!”
“Right!” Agent 1 put her hands on hips. “Let’s go, kid!”
Agent 1 grabbed the boy by his arm and pulled him outside without warning. The Inklings raced down the hallway and took out any Octarians that got in the way. After they set the charges in the armory, they made their way outside when the alarms started going off. The agents guided the Inklings towards a way back to Inkopolis.
“Get out of here!” Agent 1 yelled, as Octarians started rushing outside. “Run! We’ll hold them off!”
The Inklings made a run for the teapot that led back to the surface. Agent 1 flicked her roller, launching ink at the enemy and Agent 2 was providing supporting fire.
The Inkling boy followed the others towards the exit, but turned around to see Agents 1 and 2 getting pinned down by incoming fire. They were running low on ink, but if they stopped shooting, they’d be splatted. Agent 2 managed to splat on of the Octolings. His weapon flew through the air and landed at the boy’s feet. He wanted to run. They had told him to… Finally, he felt a fire he had not felt in so long. He grabbed the gun and charged in. The Octarians were taken by surprise, getting shot from the side by a rallied up Inkling.
“What’s he doing?!” Agent 2 said, shocked.
“Saving us! That’s what!” said Agent 1. “Reload! Quick!
It had been so long since the boy last held a weapon. He felt so empowered. He ducked under a shot and beat down the shooter. A bomb flew towards his face, but he caught it and threw back his opponent. It hit the Octoling in the face and while he was distracted he shot him down. Agent 1 and 2 wondered what the heck made his mood do take a complete opposite turn.
Suddenly, the boy was shot down by a direct hit on his shoulder. He screamed out in pain and spun around before falling onto his knees and dropping his weapon. The Octoling who escorted him before came up and struck him in the chest with the back of his charger. The boy fell flat on his his back and rolled onto his side, clutching his shoulder and his chest.
“Well, isn’t this disappointing…” said the Octoling.
The boy coughed several times. He saw the weapon in front of him and reached for it, but the Octoling shot him in the leg. The boy screamed out in pain as tears came down his eyes.
“You were so well-behaved before…” said the Octoling. “I honestly thought I wouldn’t have to splat you, but… whatever…”
The Octoling raised his charger. The boy covered his face in fear. Suddenly, the Octoling was splatted by another charger.
“Kid!” Agent 2 yelled, as she and Agent 1 rushed over to him.
Ink was seeping out from his shoulder and leg. Agent 1 applied pressure to the boy’s wounds. The tried to pull away but Agent 2 held him still.
“Easy!” said Agent 1. “We’re trying to help you!”
“Forget it!” said Agent 2. “Let’s just take him with us! More could be coming!”
“O-Okay!” Agent 1 said, trying to stay calm. “Wait! What about-”
“I’ll explain it to the Cap’n!” said Agent. “Now, come on!”
“Alright! Alright!” said Agent 1.
Agent 1 one lifted the boy off the ground. He cried out in pain, but it was a bit quieter.
“Hang in there, alright?” said Agent 1. “You can scream all you want, but don’t pass out.”
Agent 1 got a head start on the way back. Agent 2 followed behind to cover them. Once they were far enough, Agent 2 pulled out a button and pressed it. The charges set off and an explosion occurred in the building before they ran back to the surface.
The boy was barely conscious by the time they got back to the base. Agent 2 opened the door and they ran into the main room and shut the door. Agent 1 set the boy on the floor and slapped him.
“Stay awake!” Agent 1 yelled. “Stay with me!”
The boy let out a soft moan his eyes were barely open. Agent 2 ran into the back and got the first aid kit. Once she got back, Agent 1 held the boy still while Agent 2 grabbed a needle and stitched his wounds shut. They boy gritted his teeth, trying to get up and break away, but Agent 1 held him down. He was muttering something they couldn’t quite understand while grabbing his chest.
Agent 2 let out a heavy sigh when she finished. Agent 1 gave the boy a pat on his wrist to let him know he was fine.
“Try not to move,” said Agent 1. “It’ll hurt less if you stay still.”
“Urgh… St… Stop… him…” the boy muttered softly through the pain.
Agent 1 and 2 exchanged glances.
“Who?!” said Agent 2.
The boy tried to reach out his hand, but then he limp. Agent 1 covered her mouth.
“He… He spoke…” she said, softly.
“Don’t worry,” said Agent 2. “I think he just passed out… So much for answers…”
Agent 1 stared down the hall and then also the couch.
“We should let him rest somewhere… I’ll tell the cap’n what happened.”
Agent 2 glanced around.
“Well… there’s always Agent 3’s room…” said Agent 2.
“But-” Agent 1 tried to say.
“What?!” said Agent 2. “It’s not like Agent 3 is using it… the jerk…”
Agent 2 bandaged the boy’s wounds before carrying him down the hall to Agent 3’s old room. Agent 1 watched them go, dancing with the emotions that had flared up in her heart.
The Octarian forces still at work… The squidnapping of Inklings… Agent 1 saw only one thing to do…
“I’ve gotta find Agent 3…” Agent 1 muttered. And she went into her room.
“I walk the path of darkness to find the light of my dreams...”
The skies were covered in dark clouds. A slight chill hung over the Marooner’s Bay. Standing by the shore was one little Inkling with short orange hair. She made sure her rubber gloves and boots were on right, and adjusted her hat. Then she rebuckled her orange rubber overalls.
A charger hung on her back, and a Splattershot was on her side. She turned around to face the recruits. All three of them were wearing the same outfit as her, but they all had different weapons.
“Anemy?” said one of the recruits.
The leader turned to look at her.
“What is it, Coral?” said Anemy.
“O-Oh! S-Sorry!” said Coral. “I mean Captain Arowana?”
“Yes?” said Anemy.
She hesitated to say what was on her mind, but the fact that her Luna Blaster was shaking said it all.
“It’s okay to be nervous,” said Anemy. “Just remember your training and you’ll be fine.”
Gill gasped at the sight of something. Anemy turned around took notice of the incoming fog.
“The fog will impair our vision, so stay sharp,” I said.
Gill pulled out his Splattershot Jr. and Char had a Carbon Roller The group stood close with their back to each other, as the fog grew thicker.
Then, out of nowhere, a big Cohock jumped at them, the fog making it but a silhouette in the distance. The recruits gasped in surprise and fear, but Anemy did not falter. She raised her charger and took out in a single shot. The other Inklings watched as the Salmanoid died and orange ink fell on the ground.
More of the Salmonoid troops began to come from the shore.
“Get them!” Anemy ordered. “I’ll get them from the high ground.”
The recruits nodded and did as they were told. Char headed in first and crushed the common Chum. Then he noticed something at his feet, but he got out of the way, as Coral threw a bomb. The Maws emerged from the ink, devouring the bomb and making it explode. Char rolled out the way of a Scrapper and shot it down from behind. A three Inklings froze when the saw the enormous Steel Head making its way onto the shore. Steelheads were slow, but devastating if left unchecked. Luckily for them, Anemy had made it to a high point. She raised her charger as it summoned a bomb on it’s head and shot it down, the explosion splatting the Steelhead.
The recruits had to get the eggs they dropped back to the basket. The golden ones, dropped by the boss Salmonoids, that shined even in the fog, were the top priority. Anemy stayed on the abandoned ship, providing covering fire, while they got the eggs to the basket. It seemed to be going well, but Anemy refused to let her guard down.
Cohocks began to come from the shore in armies. They were coming from all sides.
“Coral! Char!” Anemy yelled. “Take the cannons!”
As Coral and Char swam in their ink to rush to the turrents, Anemy took a deep breath, trying to keep her fear at bay. Then, with her Splattershot, she dove into the into and swam towards the fray to help Gill. She jumped out right in front of a Cohock and splatted it right in the face and dashed around, splatting any that got close. Missile shot from the turrents, providing support. Gill shot around in a circle, but they were getting closer. When they were to close, Anemy jumped into the air, and slammed into the ground with Splash Down. The Cohocks were taken out in the explosion of ink.
The battlefield grew silent. As Anemy caught her breath, the others made haste to bring the golden eggs back to the basket. Though, she could tell the others were on edge, too.
It happened suddenly! A flurry of missiles shot through the air, forcing everyone to scatter. Armies of Salmonoids and bosses came onto the shore, overwhelming the team. Anemy found herself dodging Scrappers and narrowly escaping an explosion from a Steelhead that caused her to drop her weapon and fall to the ground. She then froze as she saw the mothership approaching.
“Anemy!” Char yelled from afar.
“I need help!” Coral cried.
“Help us!” Gill yelled.
The cries of her comrades grew faint as what she saw were no longer Salmonoids and their weapons, but the sight of her worst nightmare. Nightmares she thought she left behind… Her right hand reached around, enemy ink stinging her like acid. She couldn’t surrender! She couldn’t be weak! She can’t!
Anemy reached for her charger and immediately sprang to her feet. Hair glowing, she held out her special weapon at the mothership.
“NO!” Anemy yelled, as she open fired with a stingray. The firepower was enough to cause an explosion, big enough to wipe out the remaining Salmonoids.
The shore was once again silent, covered in orange ink. The Mothership had been sent flying towards the horizon. Anemy was on her knees. Her arms felt like jelly.
“Anemy!” said a voice.
Anemy quickly stood onto her feet as the recruits caught up with her. The world was spinning, making her stumble, but she tried her best to hide it.
“Why didn’t you use your specials?!” Anemy said, angrily. “We have them for a reason! If I hadn’t pulled out my Stingray, we’d all be splatted! You know how Mr. Grizz feels about crew wipes.”
The recruits took Anemy’s words like a slap to the face.
“W-We’re sorry…” Coral said, sadly. “We’ll get better.”
Anemy gazed at the empty battleground. Golden eggs were lying around for the taking.
“...Just… get those eggs to the basket,” I said. “The boat should be here soon.”
“Yes, sir…” the recruits said.
Anemy’s crew swam off in their ink to get the eggs. Anemy retrieved her Splattershot and walked alone in the rain towards the shore, trying to let the sound of it falling sooth her fear. Luckily for her, the boat was drawing close to the shore. As soon as it docked for them, they loaded the eggs onto the ship and were on their way back.
Salmonoids tended to try and attack ships sometimes to steal the eggs back, so Anemy and her crew took turns keeping watch through the night.
Anemy was feeling better by the next morning. She was finally heading back to Inkopolis after a lot of time at sea. She awoke in her hammock, in the employee quarters to the sound of the radio..
“And that’s it for today’s weather,” Anemy heard on the radio. “Now onto today’s news. Inklings that have been reported missing have suddenly been found, as mysteriously as they disappeared. Sources say that each recovered Inkling has reported the same thing regarding what happened to them, but authorities have declined to say anything until they have put all the Inklings under psychological evaluation.”
Anemy looked out the window and saw Inkopolis in the distance. The sight of it made her mouth drop a little, and let out a heavy sigh…
Anemy - Pronouced: (Ay - nem - ee)
Name comes from a sea anemone. :D
Chapter 3: Anger Leads to Fear
“My anger guides me… but it is also my enemy.”
“Bass!” said a voice.
Bass turned around and his hazel eyes looked on to the Inkling girl nearby. Her hair was mostly short except for one lock that hung down to the left. She wore a flowered skirt and her eyes were colored purple.
“Did you have that dream again?” she said, concerned. Her voice was gentle.
“Don’t worry about it,” Bass said, adjusting his boater hat. “Why didn’t you wake me up, Cici?”
“It seemed like you were tired, so I let you be,” said Cici. “Don’t worry I finished the work for today.” She gestured to the many fruit baskets near her. “And all the Zapfish have been fed. You can make up for it by helping load everything on the truck.”
“Oh, okay…” Bass said, rising to his feet.
Bass got all the baskets of produce over to the truck and loaded them in the back. The sun was already setting, but Bass hoped they would get everything to the warehouse before it got dark.
Cici decided to take the wheel, so Bass just sat in the passenger seat. He just saw the scenery as she drove through Ceviché. They went past the neighborhood, the plaza where people liked to hang out, and the many small shops. At least Bass could wave to the other villagers as they drove by. Then he became distracted by something on the radio.
“Blushing faces covered in pink! Rushing bombs, exploding ink!”
Bass grimaced at the music.
“Ugh, can I change the station?” Bass said, reaching for the dial.
“What?!” said Cici. “That’s that single from the Squid Sister! I think it was Calle?”
“Sorry…” said Bass. His hands gathered in his laps and they balled up into fists. “I’m just… more of a Wet Floor fan.”
“Fine...” Cici said, sighing. “Have at it! It’s not like I can get distracted about what’s on the radio right now.”
“I’m glad the orchards managed to give us one more harvest before summer ends,” sai Cici.
“...I think fall is gonna be easy,” said Bass. “It’s gonna start getting cooler! Air conditioners aren’t gonna break down everywhere anymore and no more of that stupid curfew telling us when we can turn them on.”
“Well, we’ve gotta save power,” said Cici. “All those Zapfishes can only power so much… At least there’s those fall festivals to look forward to!”
Bass lean back on his seat. A smile grew on his face. It was one of things he like about living all the way out in sleepy, peaceful village.
“I guess…” he said, with a sigh.
“Well, we’re almost at the warehouse,” said Cici. “Once we get everything there and we can go home, maybe we can figure out what to dress up as for Splat-o-ween.”
“You’re right!” Bass said, jolting up. He started laughing at the thought.
“What?” Cici raised a brow, briefly glancing at her friend.
“It’s just… this is gonna be my first Splat-o-ween… regularly,” said Bass. “Or are going to parties?”
“A little of both.” Cici tapped her fingers at the wheel. “Hopefully, Vichay will be back to celebrate with us…” She frowned a little, but then shook her head. “But, what do you mean, you’ve never celebrated regularly?”
Bass leaned his head against the window, a hand on his arm.
“Well, back in Inkopolis, I-”
Bass and Cici both jumped at the sound of a loud of booming noise. Suddenly, the truck began to swerve. Cici harshly turned the wheel the opposite direction and slammed the brakes, but the truck crashed into the warehouse wall and everything went black for the two Inklings.
Bass awoke a few minutes later. It seemed the air bag managed to save them. As he sat up, he felt a painful sting in his right arm. The windows had shattered, making him realize that the glass must have done the job. He glanced over at Cici and saw she was out cold.
“Cici!” Bass said, trying to shake her awake. Then he saw a shadow zip past on the roof of the warehouses. So he reached under his seat, pulled out a Blaster and kicked the door open. He stepped out and pointed his weapon as he walked around.
“Hello?” he said. “Who’s there?! If you’re trying to rob us, I have a Blaster and I know how to use it!”
Bass ran to the nearest corner in the direction he saw the shadow go. The sound of footsteps entered his ears… and it got louder. Once it got too loud, Bass immediately turned the corner and open fired. Bass couldn’t believe who it he splatted.
“Was that… an Octarian?” he said. “Gah!”
Bass narrowly dodged a shot from a sniper. He shot a path for himself and swam back to the truck in squid form.
It was there that he saw what happened. The front right tire had been shot. He shut the car door to protect Cici and climbed onto the roof, before turning on his ink armor. He could see the Octarians and Octolings swimming in their own ink and open fired before they got close.
Suddenly, a sniper shot landed a hit on Bass. It shattered his armor and he hit his back on the roof end before falling off and hitting the ground. His hat fell off, revealing his green spiky hair, which was brushed back.
“It’s him!” said a voice.
Bass raised head and reached for his weapon with his right hand, but and Octoling kicked it away.
“Get up!” the Octoling said, harshly.
Bass stumbled to his feet as the three Octolings surrounded him. Then his hair glowed and he showed what was in his left hand… which was a Splat Bomb. The Octolings screamed and ran and one got caught in the explosion. Bass soared into the air on an Inkjet and fired away on the remaining forces, before it overheated and sent Bass into the sky and back down.
One remaining Octoling grabbed his charger and and aimed it up as he fell. Bass was ready, though. He got out Splashdown and pierced through the blast catching the Octoling in the blast.
As soon as he landed on his feet, Bass grabbed his blaster and closed in on the motionless Octoling.
“Tell me who sent you!” Bass said, angrily, while pointing the blaster at the Octoling’s face.
“You… You’ll never stop us…” the Octoling said.
“Stop squidding me!” Bass yelled.
“What?” said the Octoling. “You… You know that it’s true. Inkopolis… and the rest will fall…”
Bass’s right eye began to twitch.
“Shut. Up!” he said.
“He won’t stop until you’re all wiped out…” the Octoling said with a weak smile. “And your precious Agent 3 won’t be there to save y-”
“DON’T SAY THAT NAME!” Bass yelled.
Bass yelled out as loud as possible as he splatted the Octoling by shooting him in the face. He stepped back trying to catch his breath. His face and clothes were covered in ink that was not his. He was lucky they were all linked to Spawn Points, but he was trembling. It had been a long time since he had gotten so angry and hearing his own voice like that was horrifying to himself.
“No…” he said, leaning against the car. “N-Not again!” He put his hands on his face, but was met with the sting of the cuts on his face from falling onto the ground earlier.
“Cici!” Bass realized. He got up and ran over to the driver seat. She was still out cold, but she only had a few bruises and cuts. Bass ran over and changed the wheel with the spare. Then pushed Cici to the passenger side and got in the driver seat. He reversed out of the parking lot and made a mad drive back to the house. He wanted to get home fast, so hopefully, the villagers had already went inside for the night and wouldn’t notice the damage to the truck.
Cici began to wake up as they were almost home. After half an hour of driving, Bass’s hands were still shaking.
“Ugh… Bass?” Cici said, rubbing her head and sitting up.
Bass teared up, but wiped them immediately to see the road.
“Aw, thank cod! Are you okay?”
“I… I think so…” said Cici. “I…” She then gasped, as she what happened to the truck. “B-Bass! What happened to the car?!”
Bass’s arms were still shaking at the wheel.
“It crashed,” he said, shortly. “Don’t worry about it. I’m taking us home.”
“Bass! Your arm!” said Cici. “And your face! Why are you covered in ink?!”
“Cici, we need to get home.”
“Bass, you need a doctor!
“What I need is for you to SHUT THE SHELL UP AND LET ME DRIVE!” Bass yelled.
Cici winced back in horror and grew silent after that. Bass hated having to act like this to someone like Cici, but if he went to a hospital, they would only demand to know what happened. He stared at road, once again wanting punch himself for getting angry again.
As soon as he pulled up by the house, he parked the truck in it’s usual spot and headed inside with Cici following him. Bass stormed ahead, opened the door and walked past the living room. The couch facing the TV was covered with a cloth. On the side was fireplace, with a family photo over the mantle. More photos were along the walls.
“How long until your grandfather gets back?” said Bass.
“I think he won’t be back until morning…” Cici said, shyly.
Bass walked into the bathroom, grabbed a towel and wiped the ink off himself. Cici stepped in with him.
“Let me,” Cici said, grabbing his arm. Bass tried to pull away, but she seemed serious, so he conceded.
Bass winced as she disinfected his arm, but it wasn’t so bad. He had gotten plenty of scrapes before, so this was nothing. Once it was bandaged up, Cici turned to the door.
“Cici, patch yourself, too,” said Bass.
Cici gasped, looking at herself in the mirror. “O-Okay,” she said. “Go relax in your room.”
Bass walked towards the door, but then laid his hand on the doorway.
“I’m sorry I yelled…” he muttered, softly.
Bass walked into his bedroom. He had been given one rule since he moved in to work with Cici’s grandfather: To not change anything in there. So, he could only assume someone else lived here before him. He did decide to organize a little, even though he didn’t care about cleaning up all that much. The books were in their bookshelf, which was also a nightstand, a bunch of sweaters and shirts were on hangers in the closet. The walls were decorated with posters of various bands and about the city of Inkopolis. The one with the Squid Sisters always annoyed him, but he never took it down out of respect.
“Hopefully, the stains will come out…” Bass muttered. Now if only he could fix the car as easily as Cici fixed his arm.
Bass sat on his bed quietly, with his hands on his head. The Octarians were really back… and the worst part of it was that Octoling was right… Agent 3 was gone… and not coming back. They knew where he was, but… how? If they knew where he was… then that meant…
“Angel!” Bass suddenly realized.
Fear coursed through him as the thought of her came to mind. Was she really in danger? Or was this a trick? Either way, he had to protect her! The Inkling trembled, wondering if he should, or should not. He glared at the poster of the Squid Sisters.
Splat it! he thought.
He grabbed a backpack and filled it with whatever he could. Then he ran towards the front door and took one last glance around the living room, before he opened the door.
“Bass?” Cici said, from down the hall. Bass had already headed out by the time she had spoken.
“...I’m sorry, Cici…” Bass said, before heading out.
Bass hopped into the truck, and with the key, turned the gas on. Cici ran outside, just then.
“What are you doing?!” Cici yelled, as Bass pulled out from the dirt driveway. “Grandpa’s gonna be mad at you?!”
“Sorry, Cici…” Bass said, softly, as he drove away.
The Inkling drove back into town, past the residential district, through the plaza and to the other side of town. Once in the parking lot he ran down into the train station. The clerk at the front desk was giving Bass a funny look due to his injuries and the flustered look on his face.
“Oh! Um… hello,” said the clerk. “Can I help you?”
Bass needed a minute to catch his breath.
“When… When’s the next train to Inkopolis?”
Chapter 4: An Angel's Grace
“Our dreams now lie in pieces. Yet, I will carry on for you…”
The staff had spent hours getting all the equipment onto the stage, and making sure everything was working properly. A stage had been set up by Deca Tower. In fact, it was just below the giant screen, but it was high enough, so that it didn’t block the entrance inside.
“Angel!” the manager called. A Inkling girl with a white skirt, pink hair that reached just past her shoulders, and gray eyes glanced over. “Test the mics, will ya?”
“Right away, sir,” said Angel.
Angel ran over onto the stage and adjusted the mics hanging over.
“U-Um…” Angel stammered, trying to come up with something.
At that moment they eyes of everyone in the square fell onto her, filling the Inkling with rush of excitement.
“T-Testing…” said Angel. “Testing… One, two three…”
“Good job, Angel,” the manager said from the back. “Everything sounds perfect!”
Angel smiled at that.
“Why don’t you go ahead and announce our stars?” the manager then said.
“R-Right…” she said. “A-hem! Now presenting tonight’s performance. The rap duo taking Inkopolis by Inkstorm! Off the Hook!”
The audience cheered as Angel stepped off stage and an Inkling with white hair with pink tips in a white skirt, pink legging and white shoes, came on stage with an Octoling with a black top that showed most of her mid-section. She had black shorts, green leggings and black shoes.
A bass rhythm started playing as the two idols took their positions. Once they were ready, they went live and the music started playing.
“Y’all feeling fresh out there?” the Inkling said, raising her fist into the air.
“We’re Off the Hook coming at you live from the middle of Inkopolis Square!” said the Octoling.
The audience let out another round of cheering as the screen on Deca Tower turned on. It showed a funny picture of a cake and an ice cream cone.
“Which is better: cake or ice cream?” said the Inkling.
“Head over to the Splatfest Terminal and pick a side!” said the Octoling.
“And the Splatfest stages are… BLAM!” the Inkling announced and the screen changed to show one of tonight’s stages: Starfish Mainstage. “Night concerts at Starfish Mainstage are the best!” she commented.
And I love the track they spin during Splatfests,” said the Octoling.
The next stage was shown to be Inkblot Art Academy.
“Marina! Marina! The statues’ eyes glow at night!” said the Inkling. “I SWEAR I SAW THEM GLOW!”
“Preeeeeetty sure those are just Judd’s and Li’l Judd’s eyes, Pearl…” said Marina.
“Until next time…” said Pearl.
“Don’t get cooked… Stay off the hook!” the duo said together.
The music started playing, echoing throughout the square. Inklings and Jellyfish wearing t-shirts of the team they had chosen were dancing away, as Off the Hook sang their songs.
Some of the other staff members came up to Angel. She was sitting alone at a table, staring at the performers, while everyone else was getting into the groove.
“Hey, Angel!” said an Inkling boy. “We’re gonna go battle. You in?”
“No, thanks…” said Angel.
“Aw, come on!” said his friend. “Tonight’s a night to party!”
“I… uh… I’m not really… feeling too great…” Angel said, lowering her head. “Maybe later…?” she said, glancing up a little.
“The two Inklings looked at each other.
“Well.. alright…” said the first. And they walked away. Angel took the opportunity to get away and go someplace else.
Angel made her way back to the studio. Even there, she could still the music going. She wandered to the back and it led her outside to a few warehouses. There was an Inkling still patrolling around.
“Angel? What are you doing here?” she said.
“I need to… check on something, Vichay,” said Angel.
“Well, okay…” said Vichay. “Just be careful. The manager will splat me if anything gets damaged.”
“Okay,” said Angel.
Angel wandered into warehouse D-2. Nothing in there had been touched in ages. They only time someone would come in was only to check if everything was still there.
Angel found the lever and switched on the lights. Everything from the Splatfests of the Squid Sisters era was still around: Cats versus dogs, roller coasters versus waterslides, art versus science… all of them.
Angel closed the door and wander to the center of it all. Then she fell onto her knees and stared up as tears began to fill her eyes. She was on the verge of weeping, when she heard a noise from outside.
“H-Hello?” Angel said, wiping her eyes. “Vichay? Is that you?”
“This way!” said a deep voice. “I saw her go in here.”
Angel gasped and quickly searched for a place to hide. The door was forced open with a crowbar and a group of Octolings made their way into the warehouse. They closed the door and started searching through everything inside.
“What is all this junk?” said an Octoling boy.
“Splatfest crap…” an Octoling girl grumbled.
The Octoling girl continued to look around the back, when a hand emerged from the shadows and grabbed her. Angel threw the girl across the room and she crashed into music player.
Everyone’s attention turned to Angel, as the broken music player began to play Bomb Rush Blush.
Angel ran at them and the Octolings open fired. She roll out of the way to dodge the shots and made way closer. Then she jumped into the air jumped into the middle of the group with a Splat Bomb. The group was taken out and the remaining ones without weapons came at her.
A fist flew at her face. Angel grabbed the Octoling by the wrist and Splatted her with a bomb. She dodged three swings thrown by another before she kicked him in the chest, sending him flying back. Just as she turned around, the Octoling she threw into the music player jumped into the air to try and strike her down.
“Eat this!” Angel yelled, throwing a burst bomb at her. As she was sent flying back she pulled out a weapon she shot her down.
Angel ran in and kicked down the remaining Octolings. Just when they were all taken out, the warehouse door opened and then came an Octoling wielding and Octobrush. He rushed in and swung at her splashing Ink on the floor as he did.
Angel tried blocking with her Ink Armor, but she was knocked back. She ran in, trying to shoot him, but he ran at her too. The Octoling swung horizontally, so she slide under the swing and turned around, but he did, as well. He refused to leave Angel an opening or give her space to attack. The Octoling launched her into the air with one swing and back to the ground with another.
Angel managed to land on her feet, but the vibration of the landing hurt her knees. The Octoling wasn’t finished, though. He open fired with a Stingray. Angel defended herself the best she could, but the armor eventually shattered and she crashed into the same music player.
“End of the line…” the Octoling said, flinging a wave of ink at her.
Suddenly, Angel held out her weapon and it unfolded into an umbrella and shielded her from the ink. She stepped back onto her feet, as Tide Goes Out began to play.
Angel and the Octoling ran at each other once again. She dodged the Octoling’s swing and kicked back, giving her space to shoot back. Before he got too close, she jumped and twirled around his Octobrush swing and landed behind him. The Octoing recieved a direct hit from behind and flew towards the door. Angel threw a suction bomb at and splatted him in the explosion, but it also made a hole in the door.
The Inkling jumped through the hole in the door and saw the remaining Octolings running at her. Angel threw something at the ground and it created a puff of smoke. It went upward and it was as if the girl had disappeared. A cloud formed above and unleashed a harsh downpour on the Octolings. Any who weren’t splatted beat a hasty retreat.
Angel arose from the puddles of pink ink and held umbrella of weapon over her head as the rain fell and the song ended.
“Angel!” yelled a voice.
Vichay came running from Angel’s right.
“What the heck happened?!” Vichay yelled.
“Um…” said Angel. “...Oops.”
Chapter 5: An Agent's Anguish
Well… that happened… I thought.
I’ll be honest. I was actually pretty freaked out for a moment there. Good thing I stayed fresh through that whole ordeal. Agent 1 did a good job, too, but now she’s shut herself in her room for some reason… Great. What did I say, now? Guess I’m on my own right now.
The kid was dead weight on my back, but I knew he was still alive. He breathing was really heavy. Maybe he was still in pain and feeling it in his unconscious state. I couldn’t just turn him into a squid to make him lighter. It’s really dangerous for an Inkling to transform when they’re seriously injured.
Agent 3’s room hadn’t been entered much, since the stupid jerk left. Dust had settled on pretty much everything, and a musty smell was everywhere, but it’ll have to do. I set the boy down next to Agent 3’s bed and checked on him. There were ink stains on his clothes and there was a huge tear from wear I had patched up his shoulder.
“Yep, it’s ruined,” I said. “Wait here. I’ll get something else… Not that you can hear me…”
I ran to the closet and found a white long-cuff sweater. Sure, it was probably Agent 3’s, but Agent 3 wasn’t here. Then I ran back and quickly changed his shirt. His shorts were pretty messed up, too, but it wasn’t as bad as his shoulder. I put some new sheets on the bed, gently set him down on it, and pulled the blanket over him.
“Ce… Vi…” the boy muttered, softly. “Che…”
The squid was he saying?
Suddenly, the door swung open and Agent 1 came into the room.
“Oh! There you are!” she said.
“Me?” I said. “What were you doing? You locked yourself in your room! I could’ve used some help here!” I held out my hand towards our little guest in the bed.
“Oh, come on!” said Agent 1. “He couldn’t have been heavy!”
“It’s different when he’s unconscious!” I said. “He was dead-weight.”
“Look, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about!”
“Then what is it?” I said, hands on my hips.
“The cap’n is back,” said Agent 1.
“Dang it!” I said. “Already?!”
“And you said you’d explain everything to the cap’n…” said Agent 1. “So…”
“Oh, come on!” I said, grabbing her hand before she could run off.
“You said!” Agent 1 taunted.
“I was in the moment!” I said. “And what were we gonna do? Leave him there?”
“Okay, okay!” said Agent 1. “I’ll go with you! I just joking!”
“You better be…” I said.
Agent 1 and I headed out of the room and closed the door. I wasn’t sure about leaving the kid alone, but I knew it would only be for a few minutes. Then we went down the hall and met with the Cap’n at the entrance of the house… I mean, base!
“Hey, Cap’n Cuttlefish!” Agent 1 said, cheerfully. “We’re back from our mission!”
“It seems ya are!” said the Cap’n. “How’d it go.”
“Um… Great!” said Agent 1.
“No, it didn’t!” I said. “You were right, gramps! The Octarians are at it again! We had to blow up all weapons we found in their armory.”
“Sink me! Is that true?” said the Cap’n.
“Yeah…” said Agent 1. “What’s even weirder was that some of them looked like the new Dualies Inkopolis started making…”
“But how would they get their weapons from the surface so quickly?” said the Cap’n.
“So, you gonna tell him?” said Agent 1.
“Tell me what?” said the Cap’n.
“We… brought an extra Squid back with us…” I said.
“What?!” said the Cap’n. “I thought I told ya girls-”
“I know, I know!” I said. “We’re not suppose to bring outsiders, but he saved us and we couldn’t just leave him there!”
“What was he doing there?” said the Cap’n.
“We found him the facility,” I said, as the memory began to scare me. “The Octarians were keeping Inklings prisoner…”
“What?!” Cap’n Cuttlefish yelled. “But why?!”
“We don’t know,” said Agent 1, “but we managed help them all escape.”
“Then why did ya bring one of them here?” said the Cap’n.
“An Octarian shot him down when he was trying to save us,” I said. “So, we brought him here to help him.”
“Alright… Alright…” said the Cap’n. “Where is he?”
“This way,” I said, walking ahead.
We led the Cap’n down the hall into Agent 3’s room. The boy was still safely in bed, but he was clearly still in pain, even in his sleep. His eyelids kept twitching and his teeth were held tight.
“How long has he been out?” said the Cap’n.
“Since we brought him here,” I said. “So, I guess like half an hour or so…”
“He was hit on his left shoulder and his left leg,” said Agent 1. “And… Wait. Is he wearing Agent 3’s sweater?”
“His shirt was ruined!” I said.
The cap’n walked over and got a good look at him.
“Did ya get his name?” he said.
“No,” said Agent 1. “He didn’t really speak. Maybe the Octarians scared him into silence… until we got him here…”
“What did he say?” said the Cap’n.
“‘Stop him’,” I recalled.
“That so?” said the Cap’n. “He could have been talking about their leader.”
“What are we going to do with him?” said Agent 1. “I know we shouldn’t have brought him here, but-”
“No, no,” said the Cap’n. “What choice did ya have? He saved you both, so it’s only fair that you saved him in return.”
“Ci… Vi… Che…” the boy muttered through the pain.
“Wait,” said Agent 1. “Did he just say ceviché?”
“What could that mean?” I said.
“Hmm… There a village a few hours away if you take a train,” said the Cap’n. “It’s known as Ceviche Village, a small town on the countryside.”
“Maybe that’s his home?” said Agent 1.
“It’s a bit far-fetched, but I guess it’s not impossible,” I said.
“Well, maybe this boy can help us, after all,” said the Cap’n. “He may be able to tell us what those Octo-jerks are up to.”
“Hey, you’re right!” said Agent 1.
“Let’s just keep a close eye on him until he comes around,” said the cap’n. “We gotta let him know he’s in safe hands. One of you watch over him for now. I’ll be in my room.”
The cap’n left us alone with the kid. I wished there was something we could do make him sleep a little more peacefully, but we didn’t really have anything that could help dull the pain. I know Octarians harmed Inklings in the Great Turf War, but seeing it first-hand made me wanna fry those Octo-slobs!
“Well, that went better than I thought!” said Agent 1.
“Can you watch him for little while?” I said. “I know it’ll be morning soon, but I want to at least take a small nap before then.”
“Okay,” said Agent 1. “I still can’t believe you just used one of those shirts like that! Agent 3’s gonna be so mad when-”
Okay, that was the last straw...
“Agent 3’s gone!” I said. “Geez, when will you get that?!”
“But-” said Agent 1.
“It’s been two years!” I said. “Isn’t that a bigger sign than anything?!”
Agent 1’s usually smiling face turned sad and her eyes filled to the brim with tears.
“Get out,” she said.
“Cal-” I said.
“GET OUT!” she yelled.
“WILL YOU JUST LISTEN?!” I said. “FORGET ABOUT AGENT 3!” And I stormed out of the room before I got a chance to calm down. I turned around a little to look at Agent 1 again. “...This is hard on me, too…” I said to her, softly.
And Agent 1 slammed the door shut.
I let out a sigh and wandered into my room. Then I took off my mask and face-planted onto the bed. Then I made my head face to the side. A few tears built up in my eyes. We were working so well together back there, then as soon as left, we were back in reality… It had been a while since Agent 1 and I hung out at the cap’n’s base. The tears in my eyes escaped as my sadness drifted me off to sleep.
Probably wasn’t a good idea to sleep the way I did... My neck was killing me when I woke up and shoulders kind of ached, too. Great. Now I get to deal with that all day… I thought about just lying down correctly and getting a little more shut eye.
Almost got splatted.
I forced myself to sit up and I just sat there while I let myself look around so my body could wake up a little. There was note on the floor that looked like it was slid in from the bottom of the door.
After stretching a bit I got up and picked up the note. This cute handwriting could only be Agent 1’s.
The kid’s fine. It’s your turn to watch him… And don’t touch anything in Agent 3’s room!
Agent 1 didn’t leave a greeting. Great, she’s really mad at me now… Ugh… Well, better hurry up. I headed out of my room.
Down the hall, I saw the door to Agent 1’s room slightly open. She was at her desk with the communication radio, setting it to some frequency. My cousin took a deep breath and began to speak into the mic.
“Agent 3…?” she said. My jaw dropped when she said that. “Agent 3? Can you hear me? Listen… I know it’s been two years… and we’ve had our differences, but… we need you back more than ever! DJ Octavio’s forces are at it again!”
There was no answer.
“Agent 3, I know this may be hard to hear, but… we found a bunch of Inklings being held prisoner. We managed to rescue them, but one almost got splatted. He’s safe now, but he’s hurt real bad. Please! We need your help! We can’t do it without you!”
There was nothing. I had expected this, but... somehow it still hurt.
Agent 1 stared down at her desk and let out a sigh.
“Agent 3… I know you’re listening…” she said, sadly.
I kept walking down the hall after that. Why did I allow myself to watch my cousin torture herself like this? Agent 3 has been gone forever and has done a good job of staying hidden… We taught that jerk too well…
Seriously, what the heck has gotten into her? Why would she want to find Agent 3? Honestly, I can’t keep track of that girl anymore… even here... I guess the least I could do was just let her be hopeful. It wasn’t my fault we were like this. It’s Agent 3’s!
I knew those Octarians didn’t give two splats about the truce between the them and the Squids, but to kidnap them? For what reason?! That was what the Cap’n hoped to get out of the Inkling we brought in. Hopefully, he’ll comply in exchange for rescuing him.
That musty smell enter my nose when I came in again… It actually made me kinda sad… Made I should dust in here a little...
The kid was still out cold, but it looked like he stopped talking and stirring in his sleep. That was probably a good sign. Since we couldn’t trust this kid yet, I had to come into the room wearing the full uniform. Good thing I fell asleep in it. I grabbed the chair by Agent 3’s desk and sat by the bed.
“St… Stop… him…” I recalled the boy saying.
Questions filled my mind when that boy said that back there. How were they so organized and why did they have so much weaponry? Who would approve the imprisoning and possibly the splatting of Inklings? Only one name came to mind when I thought of this… and his name was Octavio. Only problem was… he was behind glass. Agent 3 defeated him two years ago.
Leading the charge against the Octarians was really stressful sometimes… Could more Inklings be imprisoned underground? Agent 1 asked me about it, too? She even explained it to Agent 3. Is that jerk really going to ignore it?!
Alright! Calm down, Agent 2! At least this kid is safe!
I was pulled out of my thoughts when I glanced at the boy. It looked like he was finally coming around.
“Urghh…” the boy moaned.
I stood up from the chair and walked over to the bed.
“Hey,” I said. “You alive?”
“My leg…” the boy said, moving his left arm. “Argh!” He jolted up and grabbed his left shoulder with his right hand.
I walked over to help, but he tried to pull away and yelled.
“Hey! Hey!” I said. “It’s me! The agent!”
“Huh?” the boy said. He stayed still for a moment and opened his eyes.
“Yeah, Agent 2,” I said. “Remember me?”
“Uh… Uh-huh…” the boy said, holding his teeth together tightly.
“Don’t worry,” I said, holding out my hands to show that I had no weapon. “No one’s trying to splat you. You’re safe.”
The boy stayed still and grew silent. I walked over slowly and gently pushed him back down.
“No sudden movements, okay?” I said. “You could injure yourself.”
“...O… Okay…” the boy said, softly. Good. Actual words. Now that he calmed down, he actually still sounded pretty weak.
“You okay?” I said. “Don’t worry. You can talk here. No Octarians for miles!”
“O-Oh… Okay…” said the boy. “Um… C-Can you t-tell what this p-place is…?”
“It’s our base,” I said, sitting down in the chair. “We brought you here after our little fight with the Octolings. “You’ve been out all night.”
“Octolings?” said the boy. “I don’t…” Then gasped and grabbed shoulder. “I… I was sh-shot…”
“Twice…” I said.
The boy began to tear up.
“Hey, don’t worry…” I said, patting his unwounded shoulder. “You’re safe now and your wounds look like they’re gonna heal up nicely. Just… no walking around for a while, okay?”
The boy nodded.
“Anyway, you were pretty out of it once we got here,” I said, sitting back in the chair. “So, it’s okay if your memory of last night is a bit fuzzy.”
“Y-Yeah…” the boy said, softly. He started rubbing his chest. Maybe it was still sore from that Octo boy hitting him. I did see a bruise when I changed his shirt. “S-So… Is this… Am I-I… Am I on the s-surface?”
“Um… yeah…” I said.
“O-Okay…” said the boy. He breathed a sigh of relief and the tears in his eyes escaped. As he wiped them away, it made me wonder how long this poor guy was down there.
“Alright,” I said. “I’m gonna go tell the cap’n you’re awake. You stay here and rest some more.
The boy gave soft nod and began to close his eyes. Another batch of tears escaped them as he did. I began to walk out, then I realized that I had almost forgotten something.
“Wait,” I said. “ Before I go… one more thing.”
“Wh-What?” the boy said, looking at me once more.
“Do you have a name?” I said.
The boy held his hands together trying to collect warmth.
“...Erray,” said the boy. “Erray Trow…”
“Okay, Erray,” I said. “Sit tight. Or, I guess lay tight… I’ll be back soon.”
I stepped out of the room and closed the door gently. The cap’n was probably still the hou… I mean... Okay, you know what? It’s a house. Anyway, I passed by Agent 1’s room and I saw her just sulking on her bed. I doubt I could make her mood any better if I came in so I just left her to it.
The cap’n was in the kitchen. Probably up all night baking crabby cakes.
“Hey, gramps,” I said.
“Ahoy!” said the cap’n. “How’s things?”
“Great…” I said, cracking a smile… even though I was pretty miserable right now.
“Now, Marie, I heard yelling last night,” said the cap’n. “Don’t lie to yer cap’n.”
“We… yelled a little last night…” I said.
“We can’t have that right now,” said the cap’n, “especially, when the Octarians are back, and it would make us look unprofessional in front of that kid when wakes up. How is that bucko, anyway?”
“Oh, he finally woke up a little bit ago,” I said. “I think he’s still shaken from it and a bit tired. Other than that, I think he’s okay.”
“At least that’s some good news,” said the cap’n. “Just let him rest a little more before we question him. He might might have something useful for us. Where’s your cousin?”
“She’s in her room,” I said. “I think this whole thing is getting to her…”
“Really?” said the cap’n. “What do ya mean?”
“I caught her trying to contact… Agent 3…” I said.
“Oh…” he said, solemnly. “That again…”
“But… Agent 3 isn’t coming back,” I said. “It’s been two years.”
“Marie… try to have a little faith,” said the cap’n. “I just have this feeling that something is about to change…”
“For better or for worse?” I said.
“I can’t really say… said the cap’n, “but I’m not giving up on that bucko like you have. Agent 3 can’t ignore how bad things are now.”
“Yeah… I guess…” I said, trying not to sound as doubtful as I really was. “I’ll go look after the kid now. Oh! And he said his name is Erray. Erray Trow.”
I walked back into the living room and heard the TV on. The news was on. Two girls were on the screen. It was Off the Hook.
“Y’all know what time it is?” said Pearl.
“It’s Off the Hook coming to you live from Inkopolis Square!” said Marina.
It seemed like everything today was out to make me sentimental. I still remember when my cousin and I did news shows. It felt so long ago…
The streets were quiet after a whole night of partying and battles. Green and pink ink were staining the battlegrounds. Surprisingly enough, I was still full of energy, and I think my cousin was, too…
“Okay, girls,” said the camera squid. “We’re live in 3… 2… 1…”
“Hold onto your tentacles…” my cousin said, cheerfully.
“It’s Inkopolis News time!” I said, as usual.
“Before we reveal the stages, some special news!” said my cousin>
“Huh? Really?” I said.
“The Splatfest results are in!” my cousin cheered, as the screen behind us showed the teams.
“Ooohhh!” I said.
“First, we’ll reveal which team was the most popular!” said my cousin.
“Come on,” I said.
The numbers started adding up.
“Bada-bada-bada-bada…” my cousin said along with sound.
“Wait for iiiiiit…” I said.
“Boom!” we said at the same time. We looked at the screen. It was 46% to 54%.
“Awww… We lost…” my cousin pouted.
“Yay!” I said.
“Next up…” my cousin said, quickly regain her happy smile.
“Quickly! Quickly!” I said.
“Time to see which team won the most battles!” said my cousin.
“Bring it on!” I said.
The next was super close. It was 49% to 51% percent.
“Noooooo…” my cousin said.
“Heheheh!” I cackled.
“No hard feelings either way, yeah?” said my cousin. “And finally…”
“The final results!” I said.
“That’s right!” said my cousin. “The winning team of this Splatfest is…”
“Come on, come on…!” I said.
It was really close… but my team had won by twenty points.
“HOLY CARP!” I yelled. “I… WON?” It took a moment for it to sink in. “I WON! Thanks for believing in me, Team Marie!” I gave the camera a smile.
“I’d also like to thank Judd, Gramps, and most of all…” said my cousin.
“Thank-you, Callie, for being my best friend,” I said.
“Congrats, Marie,” said Callie. “You earned it. SQUID SISTERS FOREVER!”
Why, Agent 3? Why did you leave us all behind…?
Chapter 6: Facing the Fears
Inklings were kind people, and always had fun on the battlefield. We liked fun and games… but back there… it was all too real…
The music… It still haunted me… I couldn’t get it out of my head…
Dramatic music played, but it sounded like it was on some kind of music player. A figure appeared in the distance. His piercing green eyes made me remember who that was.
I woke up screaming and sat up so fast that the pain in my leg punished me for it. I laid my right hand on my forehead, trying to catch my breath. My left hand was on my chest. My heavy breathing made the bruise ache.
As soon as I was calm enough, I allowed myself to lay down again. I thought about waiting a few minutes to go back to sleep again. My mind began to wonder about other things to forget about the dream.
What is this place? I thought, as I stared at the ceiling. The fact that this room was filled with furniture gave me even more questions. Like, who was in here before me?
I had no idea who were these Squids that rescued me. Only one of them would come in here at a time, and while they spoke to me a little when they did, they never really wanted to talk about themselves. They wore accessories to conceal their faces, and the fact that they continued to do that in front of me, made me wonder if there was something they were hiding.
I sat up and began wondering how long I was going to be in this room. I wanted to know where I was and see more of the world that I had been stolen away from, when the fear began to creep up again. Had I really been rescued, or had I been taken somewhere worse than Octarian clutches?
Snap out of it, Erray! You’re overthinking this! They’re Inklings just like you! I thought to myself.
I suddenly lost my nerve to explore and just lied back down. Just thinking about those Octarian scum was making me sick! I was finally amongst my own kind again, and yet, I was just as scared as from when I was held prisoner.
There was a remote on the nightstand. After I let myself relax a little, I reached for it with my uninjured arm. At least I still knew how to work a TV. Just as I grabbed it, the door suddenly opened. I dropped the remote from being startled. It fell off the bed.
“Oh! Morning, Erray!” said Agent 1. “I thought you were still sleeping.”
“I-I… I’ve been trying…” I said. “I-I’m sorry… I’m n-not… really f-feeling too great…”
“Trouble sleeping, huh?”
“The… The Octarians…” I said, staring at the ceiling. “Th-They can’t-”
“Don’t worry, kid,” Agent 1 said. Her voice sounded gentle. “You’re completely safe here. The Octarians have no idea where this place is.”
“Um… What is… ‘this place?”
“It’s our base.”
“For… what?” I said, hesitantly.
“Um… I really can’t say… Not right now, anyways…”
“Not now?” I said.
“Now where was I?” Agent 1 thought to herself, changing the subject. “Oh! Right! The cap’n wants to speak to you!”
“He’s our leader,” said Agent 1. “He gives us our missions and stuff.”
I gulped at that. I knew being rescued came with a catch. What did he want in return? Money? Information? What could it be…?
“Don’t worry,” Agent 1 said, seeing the unsure look on my face. “The cap’n is really nice. Now, I know you’re still pretty freaked out from what happened, but the cap’n wants to speak with while your memories are still fresh. Well not like ‘fresh’ fresh, but… You know what I mean!”
“I-I… I know…” I said.
“Well, I’ll go let the cap’n know, you’re well enough to speak with him…” said Agent 1.
Agent 1 stepped out of the room. Even though I was resting, I started feeling worse. What were they going to ask? I-I… I don’t know if I can… say anything… I’m not sure why… but I had a really bad feeling about this place…
Agent 1 came back faster than I thought she would.
“Okay,” said Agent 1. “The cap’n is ready to meet you. I’ll help you get around.”
I sat up slowly and swung my legs out of bed as I sat on the edge for the first time. Then I put a hand on the nightstand. Finally, I brought myself to try and stand, putting pressure on my feet.
And I almost fell flat on my face from the pain in my leg…
“I’ve got you!” Agent 1 called out, rushing over. She wrapped my arm around her shoulders and helped me stand. I let out a sigh of relief. “There we go!” said Agent 1. “Are you ready?”
“I-I guess so…” I said.
Now that Agent 1 was helping me, I could walk without applying too much pressure to my leg. She took the lead and led me out of the room. I found myself going down a hallway. It… actually looked like a person’s house. I was given more evidence of this when I was taken into a living room. How did I know this? There was a simple couch and a small coffee table in there and a few photos were hung around on the walls. Actually, it looked like some of them were missing… and the TV looked kind of old. Agent 1 helped me onto the couch.
“Okay, I’ll be right back,” said Agent 1. She dashed out of the room quickly and I was left alone.
There was a window or two in the room, but the curtains were closed. Maybe they didn’t want any witnesses. Was… I in trouble? Geez, it was kind of cold in here, too… and I had this nice sweater on… It smelled a little musty, though…
A few minutes later, Agent 1 and Agent 2 walked into the room. Agent 1 guarded the front door and Agent 2 guarded the way to room they just came in from. Then I saw an old white-bearded man with a tattered shirt and a blue sea captain’s hat walk in from where Agent 2 was guarding. He was supporting himself slightly with a bamboo cane.
“Oh ho ho! So… you finally awake,” he said. “Welcome back to the world of the living.”
The old man walked over and placed a plate of food on the coffee table in front of me. My eyes suddenly became big when I realized how I was.
“It’s… for me?” I said, shyly.
“Go ahead!” said the man said. “They’re some of me best crabby cakes!”
I took a crabby cake and gave it a bite. Then I took another… and another… Then I ate three more of those crabby cakes. It was the best thing I had eaten in such a long time… and Agents 1 and 2 were smirking at my reaction.
“Glad to see you’re enjoying them,” the man said, happily. “So, yer name is Erray Trow, is it?”
“Yeth ith…” I said, before covering my mouth to swallow the food in my mouth first. “Y-Yes… That… That’s my name… Are… Are you the captain?”
“That’s right!” said the man. “I’m Cap’n Cuttlefish, leader of the legendary Squidbeak Splatoon. My agents and I have been keeping an eye on those Octo jerks for quite some time. I guess it was a good thing we did, too…”
“Uh… Should we be telling him that?” said Agent 2.
“Don’t worry,” said the cap’n. “I know he’s just tense. I just want to assure him that he’s safe.”
“You’ve been spying on them?” I said.
“I have to make sure the truce we swore is still in check. The politicians are doing all they can and we’re secretly doing our part here.”
“T-Truce? Y-You mean like the Great Turf War?”
“The same exact war.”
“Th-They… They don’t… It’s just… I was told tales about the war as a young Squid in my family...”
“Oh, I see…”
“I… I kind of thought… Octarians were just a myth until I came to Inkopolis… But… after what th-they done… doesn’t that mean the truce is broken?”
“We have to tell everyone! They can’t be allowed to get away with this!”
“Now, calm down, bucko!” said the cap’n. “It ain’t as simple as that! Last time it happened, nobody believed me. As it stands, the other Inklings and Octarians believe we’re in a time of peace.”
“B-But… What about the other Inklings who were imprisoned with me? Didn’t they escape?”
“And all of those who ran to the police are temporarily in the loony bin…” said Agent 2.
“So… they’re not even investigating?!” I said.
“Well, last I heard, they were investigating to see if anyone in Inkopolis is being suspicious since it’s where most of the missing Inklings turned up,” said Agent 1.
“But… that’s not even…” I said, before trailing off.
“It’s better this way, bucko,” said the cap’n.
“How?!” I said, angrily.
“Think about it, Erray,” said Agent 2. “Tensions would go up again and explode. Politicians and even us will be powerless against it, and it would be the Great Turf War all over again. More innocent lives would be taken or be in danger…”
I looked away in anger.
“Erray… I know this upsetting, but… we need to ask you a few things…” said the cap’n.
I tensed up.
“What… things…?” I said, grabbing my chest. It was suddenly feeling tighter.
“Well, I know ya were probably in there for quite a while,” said the cap’n. “Why were you there in the first place?”
“I-I… I don’t… I don’t know…” I averted my eyes.
Agent 2 crossed her arms.
“Well, when that Octarian shot you, I heard him talk about your behavior,” she said. “Now, let me ask you again? What were you doing there?”
“Th-They made us… do things for them…” I said. “If we misbehaved… they’d… beat us…”
“You were kept as a slave?!” said Agent 1.
“I-If we behaved… sometimes they’d treat us better…” I said. “...Not everyone was like that, though…”
“What did they make you do there?” said the cap’n.
“Ch… Chores, mostly…” I said, putting my right hand on my left arm. “Y-You know… cleaning and stuff…”
“Geez, your tells are super obvious…” said Agent 1.
“Huh?” I said.
“You’re lying…” said Agent 2.
“Listen up, bucko,” said the cap’n. “We are trying to stop the people who did this to you. I can’t help ya if yer lying to me.”
“Erray just tell the truth,” said Agent 1. “We don’t want to force it out of you, and you have no reason to hide it.”
“...I-I… I’m not…” I tried to say.
“Guess we’ll be doing this the hard way,” said the cap’n. “Agent 2?”
“Erray, when we entered the facility, we found weapons,” said Agent 2. “Weapons made only recently here on the surface. Now how do they know about those weapons?”
I stayed silent.
“Erray!” said Agent 1.
“W-Weapons!” I said. “Th-They force us to t-tell them… about the weapons we had in Inkopolis. Any Inkling caught with a weapon had it taken away from them and were forced to tell as much as they could about it. I-I… I guess that’s… how they got all those new special attacks I heard about…”
“Did ya have a weapon when they captured you?” said the cap’n.
“N-No, sir…” I said. “I-I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time…”
“Alright, alright,” said the cap’n. “Did you manage to uncover anything while you were down there…”
“They… They didn’t like to talk about things in front of prisoners…” I said.
“Anything you know can be useful to use, bucko,” said the cap’n. “So spill it!”
“Something… They said something about a giant weapon…” I said. “Octo… Octo weapons…”
“The Great Octo Weapons!” said Agent 2.
“But weren’t they destroyed?” said Agent 1.
“Guess they still have some more up their sleeves…” said the cap’n. “One more question.”
“O… Okay…” I said.
“Do you have any idea who’s in charge there?” said the cap’n.
I gasped at that question… making it obvious of my knowledge of it.
“Y-You… You… You’ll b… believe me… if I… if I t-tell you…?” I said.
“Of course,” said the cap’n.
“I-I… I met… We’ve only met once…” I said.
“You have?” said Agent 1. “Who is it?”
“He…” I said. “He… Guh!”
The song began to play in my head again. I grabbed my wounded shoulder. The memories were suddenly flashing through my mind. I didn’t know where I was anymore. Then a hand grabbed my shoulder and snapped me back to reality.
I was staring at the floor and I was gasping for air. Agents 1 and 2 were holding me steady.
“Stay with us, Erray!” said Agent 1.
“It’s okay,” said Agent 2. “You’re safe. No one’s trying to hurt you.”
“O… Oct… Octav… Octavio…” I said, softly. “H… His name was Octavio…”
Agent 1 and 2 looked at each other and then looked to the cap’n.
“Ya sure about this, bucko?” said the cap’n.
I nodded. The agents had me lean back against the couch.
“How long ago was this meeting?” said the cap’n.
“T… Two years ago…” I said, wiping the tears in my eyes.
“Ah, I see!” said the cap’n.
“What is it?” I said.
“I’m not saying I don’t believe you,” said the cap’n. “But the Octo-jerk you’re speaking of was defeated a long time ago by an agent of mine.”
“Do you still think he’s still plotting from the shadows?” said Agent 1.
“There’s only one way to find out…” said the cap’n. “Follow me, agents. You too, Erray.”
“Huh?” I said.
“Let’s go,” said Agent 2. “We’re going to get some answers.”
“I’ve already told you what I know,” I said. “I swear!”
“Not from you,” said Agent 2. “C’mon!”
Agent 2 led me out of the room with the others. We went back down the hall and took a sharp left. Then we approached a big metal door. It creaked loudly as it opened.
“Watch your step,” the cap’n said, before he went ahead.
Agent 1 followed after the cap’n and Agent 2 guided me down a flight of stars. I held my eyes shut until someone turned on the light. Maybe this was the way to the basement.
Finally, we made it to the bottom. I immediately hid behind Agent 2 as soon as I saw what I saw. It was the Octarian who had all those poor Inklings locked up: Octavio himself.
He was a fully grown, reddish violet octopus, wearing a golden samurai helmet. Two of his tentacles were crossed together, showing a green X on one of them, and he shot me a look with his big green eyes. That’s when I also saw that he was in some kind of snow globe.
“...What are you doing here?” he said, menacingly.
“I’m sure you know, don’t you?” Agent 2 said, lowering me onto a nearby crate to sit on.
“And what makes you think that?” said Octavio.
“Don’t you?!” Agent 1 pouted.
“So what? Did that broken Inkling there give me away…?” said Octavio. “Isn’t that right, Erray Trow?”
I gasped, immediately beginning to shiver.
“Don’t worry,” said the cap’n. “He’s completely harmless in that snow globe. And besides Octavio! It was an Inkling broken by your hands.”
“Was it really me?” said Octavio. “Or is the fact that the Inkling race has reduced its skill and weaponry to mere fun and games.”
“Octavio, I want the truth!” said the cap’n. “Are you behind this, or not?”
“What do you think?” said the Octavio. “Of course I am.”
“You’d just flat out tell us?” said Agent 1.
“Probably a trick…” Agent 2 muttered.
“No,” said Octavio. “I just don’t have time for stupid games. Everything is going as planned.”
“Whatever you’re doing, Octavio, we’re going to stop,” said cap’n, “just like before…”
“Poor Cap’n Cuttlefish…” said Octavio. “Has your age made you delusional, old timer? We both know your only hope is gone. The one who I should’ve dubstomped into oblivion two years ago: Your beloved Agent 3. Don’t you see? None of you can splat me!”
Agent 1 stepped forward with fire in her heart and tears in her eyes.
“Agent 3’s coming back!” Agent 1 yelled. “I know it will happen!”
“Agent… 3?” I said.
Agent 2 glanced at me and then to Agent 1.
“I ordered Agent 3 not to kill you because you were once my friend!” said the cap’n. “There could have been peace, Octavio. The Great Turf War did not have to happen!”
“It’s too late for that, Cuttlefish…” said Octavio. “You forced my race to live in the shadows! I will have my revenge, and you and your precious squids will pay the price!”
“Then I guess you can just stay in that snow globe for all I care!” said the cap’n. “We’re gonna put a stop to whatever yer doing no matter what ya say! Agents! Erray! We’re done here.”
Agent 2 helped me to my feet. The cap’n exited first and then we followed with Agent 1.
“We’ll meet again…” Octavio said, as we headed out. “And I can’t wait to remix your face, Erray Trow!”
I turned my head and looked at him, but only for a second. By then, Agent 1 had closed the door.
Agent 2 saw me back to the room. She set me down on the bed… but I knew I had a reason to be scared.
“He’s gonna splat us…” I said, with my hands shaking. “He knew my name? How? How does he know my name?”
“Why would he know your name?” said Agent 2.
“I-I… I don’t know!” I said. “I thought Inklings were just worthless to him! What does he want from me?!”
“Look, just calm down!” said Agent 2. “As long as Octavio is in that snowglobe, he can’t lay a tentacle on you. Now you stay here. I gotta go meet up with the cap’n and Agent 1.”
Agent 2 headed towards the door.
“W-Well…” I said, making her stop. “M… Maybe there’s… something I can do to help.”
“Heh…” Agent 2 actually cracked a smile. “You really want to do something for us? Get some rest. You’re in no condition to do anything for us right now. I’d also like to inform you to not leave the base for now.”
“Huh?” I said.
“It’s for your protection,” said Agent 2. “Those Octarians could be out looking for you. You’re free to go into the living area and dining area as you please once you’re well enough, but stay out of the other bedrooms.”
“O… Okay… It… It’s not like I have anywhere else to go…”
“What about your parents?” said Agent 2.
I stayed silent.
“...I see…” said Agent 2. “Well, do you have any other questions?”
Now that she mentioned it, there was something that had been bothering me.
“Um… Who… Who’s Agent 3?” I said.
Agent 2 let out a deep sigh and headed towards the door.
“...No one important…” said Agent 2. “If you need anything, give a holler.”
Agent 2 stepped out and closed the door. I couldn’t do anything, but feel so helpless. I wanted those Octarians to pay for what they did, but… what was I gonna do?
Then the answer came when I saw the closet near the desk. There was gear and weapons in the back. They were covered in dust, but still looked usable. An idea sparked in my mind… and I would put it into action once I was well enough…
Those Octarians won’t know what hit them...
Chapter 7: Into the City
It was a windy night in Inkopolis. Usually, it was pretty sunny in this city, but I guess it was due for its stormy days, too. There was a scrap of paper in my hand. The ink on it was faded, but hopefully it held up. Then my phone went off.
“Aw! What now?!” I said, looking at the screen.
“The National Weather Service has issued a rainstorm warning for Inkopolis and the surrounding areas. All Inklings are advised to stay indoors until the storm blows over or at least the warning ends at 8:00 am.”
“Great…” I said, putting my phone away. Luckily, I was almost to my destination. I pulled the door open and entered the lobby of Flounder Heights.
“Hello!” I said the receptionist. “Welcome to Flounder Heights. How may I help you today?”
“You came in at a good time. There could be a storm today, and we all know what water can do to Inklings.”
“Yeah, my phone let me know…” I said, reaching into my pocket. “I’m looking for a friend of mine. Do you know if this person still lives here?”
I handed the woman the paper scrap she had and typed the information in the computer.
“Ah, yes,” said the receptionist. “Apartment 303, was it?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Thank-you.”
I walked into the elevator and pressed the button to the third floor.
“Here we go…” I muttered, as the door closed.
Once I was there, I was somewhere in the middle of the hallway. I went down where the numbers on the door decreased until I found it: Apartment 303.
I took a minute to stop and get my thoughts together. It had been… quite a while since I had last seen her.
Well, I did come all this way…
I raised my right hand and knocked on the door. Then I stepped back and waited.
Questions raced through my mind as I waited. Would she be happy to see me? Was this really a good time? Should I not have come back at all? Maybe I should just go…
Well, too late. The door opened… but an Inkling girl with green short hair, with a lock hanging down to the right was at the door. She wore a white t-shirt, black pair of pants and blue colored sneakers.
“Bass…?” said the girl.
“Um… Hey, Vichay,” I said.
Vichay ran outside of the apartment and hugged me.
“Ah! It’s so good to see you!” she said.
I began to smile and hugged her back.
“Vichay, who is it?” said a voice.
And there she was. Angel walked up to the doorway. Vichay stepped aside and Angel’s jaw almost dropped.
“Bass…” said Angel. Her eyes shifted to my right. “Your arm…”
Vichay glanced over. “Hey, what’s with your arm?” she said.
“Look, it’s a long story,” I said, “but it’s why I’m here.”
“Well, let’s get you inside,” said Vichay. “Oh, um… Is that okay, Angel?”
“Um… yeah…” Angel said, nervously running her hands on a lock of her hair. “You can come in…”
Angel turned around and headed inside. Vichay signaled for me to follow. The apartment seemed the same, but it seemed that the couch was changed in the living room and there was a different rug. The chairs by the counter seemed the same, though.
Vichay made some coffee for us. While I waited at the table, Angel sat down with me, but she was quiet the whole time. The rain began to come down as I looked out the window.
“It’s a good thing you came here when you did,” said Vichay. “There was a rain warning out, and it seems to be accurate this time.”
Vichay placed coffee on the table for each of us. “Cici called me about what happened back in the village,” she said. “We were both terrified.”
“I guess…” Angel said, drinking from her cup of coffee.
“What?” I said. “You weren’t worried?”
“I knew you’d be okay…” said Angel.
“That’s not true!” said Vichay. “You should have seen her asking a million questions about you after Cici called.”
“Vichay!” Angel pouted.
“But what the heck, Bass?!” said Vichay. “You just stole my Grandpa Coel’s truck and drove on over to the train station without even saying good-bye?!”
I shot Vichay a weird look. “How much did Cici tell you?” I said.
“As much as she could!” Vichay put her hands on her hips. “She said you both crashed and then she woke up to a broken windshield and you with fuchsia ink stains on your clothes. Oh! And when she asked, you told her to ‘just shut up and let me drive’.”
“I was under a lot of stress…” I said.
“Why did you crash, anyway?” said Vichay.
I stared down at my coffee.
“The, uh… One of the back tires were shot out by an Octoling…” I said.
Angel finally brought herself to look at me.
“Were they wearing-” said Vichay.
“Yes,” I said.
“But Agent 3-”
“Isn’t around and they know it!” I said. “One said so himself…” The memory still haunted me…
Vichay turned to Angel. She was turning pale.
“Angel, are you okay?” said Vichay.
“...What does this mean for us?” said Angel.
I let out a sigh.
“I wish I knew…” I said. “But… that’s why I came back. It wasn’t Cici or Max they wanted. It was me.”
“Not just you…” Angel said, looking me in the eye.
“What do you mean?”
“A night or so ago… Octolings came for me while I was… working late…”
“Well, that simplifies things,” said Vichay. “The Octarians were after you both, because you two are the only link to Agent 3 they have.”
“Maybe, but… we don’t even know where Agent 3 went after… you know…” Angel said, looking away.
“Angel…” I said.
“Well, Cici said she’d stay in Ceviche Village and look after my grandpa,” said Vichay. “While they’re holding their ground, we have to hold our own here.”
“And what?” said Angel. “Fight the Octarians forever.”
“Of course she doesn’t mean that,” I said. “We have to figure out a way to stop them.”
“But how?” said Angel.
“Well…” I said, crossing my arms and pacing away. “I guess… we would have to get in touch in with… them…”
“Who’s them?” said Vichay.
“The Squid Sisters,” I said. “They were the only members of the New Squidbeak Splatoon along with Agent 3 back in the day. Cap’n Cuttlefish is their grandfather.”
“Okay, my grandpa said Cuttlefish had two granddaughters,” said Vichay, “but he never said they were the Squid Sisters.
“Well, believe it, because it’s true,” said Angel. “Anyway, I don’t want to talk to them! If you don’t remember, the last time I talked to them, I told them to splat off!”
“But what about the Octarians?” I said. “They could go after them, too!”
“Then whatever!” Angel yelled, harshly, rising from her seat. “They can handle it themselves! They’ve done it in the past… without ruining other Inklings’ lives!”
Angel walked towards her room.
“Angel…” I said.
“I’m going to bed!” Angel grumbled. “Bass you can sleep on the couch.”
Angel slammed the door to her room shut.
“...I’m sorry…” said Vichay.
“Nah, it’s fine…” I said. “I don’t care for the Squid Sisters, either…”
The storm managed to blow over by the next morning. When I awoke on the fold-out bed that was also a couch, my mind was blank at first. I wondered where I was, but when I looked around the apartment, I remembered what happened. I guess I was so tired from yesterday, I slept until noon.
My arm still ached from the glass that cut my arm, but at least the bleeding had stopped. Just to be safe, I decided to take off the bandages I had on and put on some new ones. Afterward, I stepped into the kitchen. It was at that time that Angel came out of her room. I wasn’t sure if she wanted to speak to me or not, so I didn’t bat an eye… I wasn’t mad at her… I was worried she was mad at me.
“Um… hey…” she said, quietly.
I finally turned around. Angel seemed fine, but it also looked like she had been crying.
“I’m… I’m sorry about last night…” I said.
“N-No…” said Angel. “I’m the one who’s being selfish.”
“No, I actually agree with you,” I said.
“Huh?” She glanced over at me with her glittering gray eyes.
“I don’t want anything to do with the Squid Sisters, either,” I said. “Not after what they did to us!” I sighed before bringing myself to speak again, and turned back to the counter behind. “You not only who’s still in pain after everything…”
A wave of emotion came over me. I hung onto the counter through it all, but a tear or two still managed to get in my eyes.
“Ugh… Damn it!” I said, wiping them away.
Angel went up from behind and laid a hand on my back. I turned to look at her, she seemed conflicted, as well.
“What are we going to do…?” said Angel.
“I… I don’t know…” I said. “I came back after the Octolings attacked me, because I was worried about you, but I don’t feel safe going back to Ceviché Village, either…”
“It’s Agent 3 they want,” Angel said, pacing to the counter. “I think… our only chance is to find Agent 3 before the Octarians do…”
“Yeah… I guess you’re right… I don’t know where to start, though. After Agent 3 first went missing, the trail was fresh, at first, but it was made clear that Agent 3 didn’t want to be found and didn’t want to be taken back. Every attempt always ended in disaster…”
“Anger makes a powerful foe…” said Angel. “No wonder you guys had trouble… I couldn’t do anything for you. All I did was mope…”
“Angel…” I said.
“But, I swear… I won’t this time!”
“But it’s been two years, Angel. The trail is probably dead cold now. Who knows where Agent 3 could’ve gone…”
“Then how are we going to do this?” said Angel.
“I… I don’t know…” I said. “How ‘bout we just take a break for today…”
“You… You wanna go to the square?” said Angel.
“Square?” I said.
“Yeah, Inkopolis Square. It’s the hot spot of Inkopolis, nowadays.”
“What about the plaza? Is that still around?”
“Yeah, but it hasn’t been as popular since the Squid Sisters stopped giving the news,” said Angel.
“Ha! So karma finally bit them, huh?”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s just… get going…”
Angel led me out of the apartment and began to tell me as we walked to the Square.
“The last Splatfest ended in victory for Marie,” Angel said, as we walked through the town. “Yet, after it was over, their popularity grew super fast and they went from from Inkopolis idols to basically the biggest stars in our culture. Why would you do the news when you can be in movies and on talk shows?”
“I’m sorry, Angel,” I said, as we walked into the Square.
There were many Inklings when I got there. It wasn’t as open-spaced as the plaza, but there was still room to move around. Several tables were out for Inklings and Jellyfish to relax in and among the buildings the largest one, a tower, stood tall over it all and at the top was the Great Zapfish, the very thing basically powers the entire city. Guess it had been moved since the plaza days.
“This is pretty nice…” I said.
“It’s like a new home-sweet-home for me,” said Angel. She pointed to the tower ahead. “That’s Deca Tower where the Inklings go to battle on the first floor. Over on the left we have the Galleria, which is basically where the gear is sold around here.”
“What about over there?” I said, gesturing to the right. There was a giant pair of arrows as its sign on the building..
“Oh, that’s the Shoal,” said Angel. “A lot of Inklings tend gather there to hang out. It’s mostly an arcade. And next we have…”
“Excuse me?” said a voice.
Angel backed up a bit. An Inkling with a green parasol approached us. She was wearing a black kimono, but she was using a parasol to cover her face.
“O-Oh!” said Angel. “Can I help you?”
“I’m, uh… looking for someone…” said the girl. “He’s about this tall…” She held out her hand to show us a height. “His hair is usually purple and his eyes are a brighter shade of that, and his hair is loosely tied back. Seen him?”
“Um… no,” I said. “We just got here.”
“Well, okay…” said the girl. “Well, thank-you for your time…”
“No… problem…” I said, as the girl walked away. I had to stop myself from gasping. On the surface of her parasol was that symbol for the New Squidbeak Splatoon!
“Angel! You see that?!” I said, pointing.
“See what?” said Angel.
“She’s-” I began to say, but when I looked again, the girl was gone. “...Nevermind.”
Suddenly, the giant screen on Deca Tower came on and began to show a broadcast. An Inkling girl was sitting in a beanbag chair and an Octoling girl was behind some turntables.
“Y'all know what time it is?” said the Inkling.
“It’s Off the Hook, coming at you LIVE from Inkopolis Square!” said the Octoling.
“Who are they?” I said.
“They’re a duo called Off the Hook,” said Angel. “That’s Pearl on the left and Marina on the right.”
“Yo, Marina! Tell the people the good news before we introduce the stages!” said Pearl.
“Huh? Like, right now?!” said Marina. “What was the good news again?”
“You know…” said Pearl. “The single most important celebration of our culture? The Spla-”
“OOH! The SPLATFEST!” Marina realized.
“Ding ding ding!” Pearl exclaimed. She leaned back in her hair and held her arms and legs out as she shouted. “We’ve got a Splatfest coming up quick!”
“Splatfests always get my ink pumping!” said Marina. “I’ve gotta get my gear ready!”
“Yo, Marina,” said Pearl. “What’s the Splatfest theme this time?”
A hand with a paper reached out towards Marina.
“Haaaagh… I’m too nervous to look!” Marina said, leaning away and closing her eyes. “You do it.”
“Fine,” Pearl said, taking the paper from what I assumed to be the producer. “The Splatfest theme is…” She read over it carefully. “WHAT?!”
“What is it, Pearlie? What’s the theme?” Marina said, excitedly. “TELL MEEEEE!”
“Okay, here it comes,” Pearl said, setting the paper aside.
Marina pulled down a gulp.
“The Splatfest theme is…” said Pearl.
The screen behind them switched on to reveal a picture of a jar of mayo on one side and a bottle of ketchup on the other.
“It’s the glorious union of eggs and oil - MAYONNAISE!” Pearl exclaimed.
“Versus the red stuff that runs through my veins - KETCHUP!” Marina cheered.
“Pshh. Ketchup is BOOOOOOOO-RING!” said Pearl. “It’s like the Sheldon of condiments!”
“Boring?” said Marina. “At least ketchup has flavor. Mayo is just tasteless lard! Even when it’s cold from the fridge, it still somehow feels warm in your mouth! That disgusting mouth feel… I’d rather lick Crusty Seans’s grease trap!”
“What,” Pearl said, leaning back in her chair. “Okay, we get it. You don’t like mayo. But at least mayo is true to itself. Ketchup is just wannabe jam.”
“Sorry… what?” said Marina.
“You basically just take some fruit and mix it with sugar,” said Pearl. “Boom. Tomato Jam.”
“It’s not jam,” Marina said, crossing her arms.
“Tomato is a fruit, Marina,” said Pearl.
“I mean, well, technically yeah,” said Marina. “But not REALLY.”
“What you y'all think?” said Pearl. “Head over to the Splatfest terminal and pick a side. Alright! Now, check it! Here are the current Regular Battle stages!”
“Hey, Angel,” I said. “You see that?”
Behind the duo, I could see Inklings and Jellyfish looking at them through a window.
“Oh yeah,” said Angel. “Their studio is actually right here in the square. Fans like to gather there and stare like creeps.”
On the far right, I swore I saw an Inkling boy who matched that girl’s description.
“Hey, isn’t that the kid the parasol girl was looking for?” I said.
“Maybe, but the girl disappeared,” said Angel.
“Then let’s just see if it’s him and say who’s looking for him,” I said.
“Uh, okay,” said Angel. “The studio’s this way.”
Angel walked me over to the right of Deca Tower. The broadcast had just about ended when we got there. A lot of the people who had gathered by the window began to leave. Pearl, along with Marina were just sitting in the back, chatting.
The boy in question had remained. HIs hair was tied back, with one lock hanging down to the side of his head. He wore a white long-cuff sweater, dark gray shorts with black leggings and his shoes were black as well with light green edgings on them. He had a face mask over his mouth and nose.
“...Octarian…” I heard as I approached him.
“Uh… hey,” I said, tapping his shoulder.
“GAH!” the boy yelped in pain. He immediately backed away, yelling as if he were hit. His hand was on his shoulder and looked at me with his wide purple eyes. HIs Splattershot landed on the floor. The Inklings and Jellyfish who were still around stared at me.
“S-Sorry!” I said. “I-”
“N-No! No!” said the boy. “I’m sorry.” He reached for his Splattershot. “I-I gotta go!”
“Hey, wait!” I yelled. The boy ran off into Deca Tower.
“Geez, Bass,” said Angel. “I know you wanted to get his attention, but did you have to hit him?”
“I didn’t!” I said. “It was just a tap!”
“I know. I was just messing with you,” said Angel.
“You know what?” I said, staring at Deca Tower. “It’s been a while since I ever battled here. How ‘bout we check it out?”
“But there’s only two of us!” said Angel. “What? You wanna fight with randoms?”
“Sure, why not?” I said. “Isn’t that why we came down to the square?”
“Well, I guess,” said Angel. “But…”
“Then, I’m so glad I brought the Blaster,” I said. “Last one in is a fried Squid!”
I held my Blaster on my back and charged into the tower.
“B-Bass!” said Angel. “Wait for me!”
The Ink Battle lobby only had a few in the room we walked into. So, we had some time to chill. Three Inklings were on one side already, so we went to the other. Only the kid we ran into earlier was sitting there. He only gave me a slight glance, as we sat next to him, before going back to looking at his weapon.
“Um… hey,” I said.
“The boy turned to me at the immediate sound of my voice. His eyes were wide open as if surprised.
“Uh… Sorry about earlier…” I said.
“Um… That’s okay…” the boy said, shyly. He hugged his Splattershot close to him. He obviously seemed nervous about something.
“Uuuugh… Where’s the players?” Angel whined leaning back in her chair.
“Angel, we just got here!” I said.
In all seriousness, it had been a while since I went into a battle with random Inklings. It was getting really quiet and awkward, so I tried to make conversation.
“So… you got a name, kid?” I said.
“I am not a child!” the boy said, suddenly raising his tone. “And my name is Erray.”
“Uh, alright,” I said. “Well, I’m Bass, and this Angel.”
“Oh… um, hi,” said Angel.
“So, what brings you to Deca Tower, Erray?” I said.
“Practice…” Erray answered.
“Practice for what?” I said.
“Hey, mind if I join you?” said voice.
A boy with a boater hat came up to us. He had black t-shirt and a pair of black pants and shoes. His green hair was poorly covered by his boater hat. It was automatically clear he was an Octoling, but he didn’t seem all that nervous about it.
“Uh, not at all?” I said. “Go ahead.”
“Ah, thank-you!” the boy said, taking a seat. “I just got into town today! It’s very lively!”
“That… seems to be what attracts people here…” Angel said, avoiding eye contact.
“A lot of people here are so nice, too!” said the Octoling.
“We don’t see many Octolings around here,” I said.
“Oh… heh… Guess you saw, huh?” said the boy.
“Hey, I don’t care what you are,” I said. “It’s who you are that matters. I’m Bass, by the way!”
“Thank-you!” the Octoling replied, happily. “Oh! And my name is-”
“Attention, Lobby C,” said an automated message. “The match is about to begin.”
The two teams stood up and we met up in the middle. A pair of metal grates appeared on the floor and our teams went to the stage through them.
We appeared on a spawn point at Musselforge Fitness. It was as the name would suggest. It was a place for fitness. There were rock climbing walls and several gyms, but the area had been cleared out for the battles today. It was surprising to know that this area was now an Ink Battle stage.
Erray was here first, so we were the purple team. The other team was orange. We had our ink tanks on with the light glowing at the tops, indicating that we were linked to the Spawn Point. The Octoling had a Slosher, but I don’t think I’ve seen his kind of Slosher before. I didn’t even know what kind of weapon Angel had. I probably should’ve asked before we came in here.
“Ready?” said an automated voice. “GO!”
Angel and I covered the area around our Spawn Point with ink before we moved forward. Erray and the Octo boy had already begun to climb down from there and went in the opposite directions of each other down the side passages, so Angel and I went towards the center. There was a bridge with a walkable underpass underneath. I saw the Octoling run by, spreading ink.
Once we were at the center was when we actually encountered trouble. I threw a toxic mist to stop the opponents’ advance, but their weapons were longer ranged and they were pointing them right at me.
“I don’t think so!” Angel said, stepping in front of me. She held out her weapon and it folded out into an umbrella. It took the hits for us. Then Angel threw something onto the floor. It soared into the air and a purple cloud formed, making it rain our team’s ink. Anyone on the opponent’s side got splatted if they didn’t flee.
“I got this spot!” said Angel.
“Cool then,” I said.
I turned into a squid and swam through the ink to find more turf to cover. Erray had the left side when he threw two Burst Bombs at an opponent and fired a few shots, before running out of ammo.
“Erray!” I yelled, as the Inking, while mildly damaged, began to close in.
“Heads up!” said a voice.
The Octoling pushed Erray aside by the shoulder. The kid almost cried out in pain, but he was clearly trying to hold it back. The Octo boy swung his Slosher and finished the Inkling for Erray.
“Nice!” I said.
“Thanks!” the Octoling said. “I-AH!”
The Octoling was suddenly splatted from afar. An Inkling girl was on a perch with a charger.
“Sniper!” I yelled.
Erray and I scattered as the Inkling girl tried to shoot at us. Another Inkling was chasing after us. Angel swam up as we went through the underpass and threw a sprinkler to distract him and shot him down.
“Take out the sniper!” said Angel.
“Got it!” I said. “Let’s go Er-”
I couldn’t find Erray anywhere. I swore he was following me. Could he have gotten splatted on the way?
Angel held out her umbrella as another Inkling tried to shoot at her.
“Go! Now!” Angel yelled.
The Octoling met up with me back at the center. The sniper on the perch saw the Octo boy and tried shooting at him. His dodging provided a nice distraction, though. So I made my way into enemy territory and snuck up on the girl from behind. I got her in one hit.
“I did it!” I said, jumping back to the Octoling’s side.
Suddenly, the remaining enemies surrounded us.
“Wow! I’ve always wanted to splat an Octarian!” said an Inkling boy.
A mark appeared on the ground. Someone was Super Jumping to us.
“Ha! Idiot!” said the boy. But that opinion was put to rest when just before Erray landed, a field appeared and Erray landed with an explosion of ink. All the Inklings around us were splatted by the Splashdown.
“Whoa!” the Octoling said, excitedly.
The whistle went off shortly after that. We were sent back to the lobby.
Judd, a cat with tuxedo-patterned fur came up while accompanied by a little friend.
“Who’s that?” I said.
“It’s Li’l Judd,” said Angel. “Isn’t the resemblance obvious?”
Judd quickly held up a flag in our direction while Li’l Judd fell backwards, pretending to faint.
“Yes!” the Octoling exclaimed.
“All right then!” I said, with a smile.
“Guess I did it right…” said Angel.
Erray let out a relieved sigh. The other team groaned in disappointment.
“That was pretty fun, actually…” said Angel.
“Yeah,” I said. “What about you, Octo-”
I turned around, but the Octo boy had disappeared from the room.
“You okay?” I heard Angel say.
I looked back at Angel, who was looking at Erray. He was grabbing his shoulder again. His hands were shaking and he looked even more pale than he already was.
“I… I don’t know about you…” Erray muttered. “But… I’m battling again.”
Before Erray could walk off, Judd grabbed him by the end of his shirt.
“Huh?” said Erray.
“Are you injured?” said Judd.
Erray couldn’t even work out a response.
“We can’t have someone injured out on the stages,” said Li’l Judd. “You could get hurt even worse.”
“I-I… I’m not…” Erray tried to respond, but he grabbed his shoulder again.
“Come on, kid,” I said. “Let’s go find somewhere for you to sit.”
“I don’t need to-”
Angel tapped his shoulder and he backed away in pain.
“Yes, you do!” she said.
“Let’s just go,” I said, putting his other arm around my shoulders. “Let’s not make a scene. Thank-you, Judds!”
“No, purroblem!” said Judd. “And it’s great to see you again, Bass.”
Erray looked like he was going to say something in protest, but stayed quiet instead. I guided Erray out of the tower with Angel following closely behind.
“Would you let go?” Erray pouted. “I don’t need you Squid handling me!”
“Would you be nice!” Angel snapped. “He’s trying to help you!”
I lowered Erray into a chair at a table. Angel wanted to take a look at his injury, but Erray pushed her away.
“What happened to your shoulder?” I said.
“Urgh…” Erray moaned, rubbing his shoulder. It looked like he was desperately trying to ease the pain. It also seemed he there was pain on his leg, too. “What happened to your arm?” he sassed back.
I grabbed my arm.
“Touché…” I said. “Angel, keep an eye on him. “I’m gonna get some drinks.
“Oh! Try that truck over there,” said Angel. “They’re pretty good. Oh! You’ll need these!”
Angel handed me three tickets. They looked the same, but I headed to the truck anyway.
And wouldn’t you know it? A familiar tiger prawn was running the business.
“Sean?!” I said.
“What’s kraken, squiddo?!” said Sean. “I didn’t know you were back in town. You’re not causing trouble, are you?”
“Of course not,” I said. “I’ll just take three…” I read the tickets. “Swim Speed Apples.”
“You got it,” said Sean.
I took the drinks and headed back to the table. Erray took his and held it up to his shoulder to provide relief. He was winced a bit in pain, but eventually relaxed enough to take a drink.
“Thank-you…” said Erray. “It tastes pretty good…”
“So, Erray…” said Angel. “Where did you come from?”
“...The countryside…” Erray responded. “I… uh… ran into some trouble… on the way to Inkopolis… And, uh… That’s how I got hurt.”
Angel and I exchanged glances.
“Look, I don’t know what happened,” I said, “but you shouldn’t be pushing yourself.”
“I-I thought… I was feeling better,” said Erray. “That’s why I came here to train… But I guess the pain started acting up again.”
“Ohh…” Angel realized.
“Can I… ask you something?” said Erray.
“Shoot!” I said.
“Why… Why did you help me?” said Erray. “I barely even know you…”
“...It’s not in me to leave someone in need…” I said, staring at my drink.
“Bass…” said Angel.
“Huh…?” said Erray.
Suddenly, a bell went off. It played a melody and then ended.
“Oh… the hour bell,” said Angel. “It’s four o’ clock.”
“Wait, four?!” said Erray. “Ah! I gotta get back! Thank-you for the drink! I’ll see you later!”
Erray dashed off with his drink, but then I saw that he left his Splatter shot.
“Bass! Erray left without his weapon!” said Angel.
“Don’t worry,” I said, picking it up. “I’ll give it to him. Wait here.”
I went off in Erray’s direction. The sun was beginning to set, so I had to hurry. I wondered how Erray was supposed to get home through this dark alley he was in. Suddenly, he came running back.
“Erray?” I said.
“RUN!” he yelled, dashing past me.
“Huh?” Then I was almost hit by fuchsia ink. I ran behind Erray, as the Octolings chased after us. If they went to the Square it would only cause a panic, so I led Erray somewhere else.
We ended up at some remote dock. Erray tripped over the pain of his injuries, so I had to drag him behind a few crates. I leaned him against on of the crates, but he was shifting uncomfortably.
“Not again…” the boy muttered, softly. “Not again… I can’t do this!”
“Wait! Hold up! Hold up!” I said, grabbing him by his shoulders. “...What happened?”
Erray brought himself to look at me. He pulled down a gulp and tears were in his eyes.
“...I-I…” he tried to say.
“Where are you?!” said a voice. “You can’t hide forever, little Inkling!”
Erray grabbed his Splattershot from me.
“I’ve gotta…” He tried to get up, but the pain was too much for him.
“Erray…” I said, pushing him back down. I pulled out my Blaster.
“B… Bass, they’ll kill you…” said Erray.
“It’s not in me to leave someone in need…” I said once more, as I rose to my feet.
I walked out and the Octolings got close to me. One of them, a boy, walked out to approached me.
“What do you want?” I said.
“Straight to the point,” said the Octoling. “I like that. It’s a shame you’re an Inkling. You would do fine in our ranks.”
I shot him a glare.
“I will not stoop to your level,” I said, sternly.
“Well, then… today’s your lucky day,” said the Octoling. “We’re not here for you. We’re here for that little buddy you were with. So how about you just tell us where he is, step aside, and we’ll spare you?”
“What do you want with him?” I said.
“That’s none of your business,” said the Octoling. “The only business I have is with Erray. When I say I’m gonna splat someone, I intend to finish what I started.”
I pulled out my Blaster. The Octoling held up their weapons.
“Alright, then…” said the Octoling. “Get him!”
The Octolings walked towards me. One swung his Octobrush, but I pulled it out his hand and shot him in the face. Then I knocked the other Octolings away by swinging it at them, before throwing it into the ocean. Some of the Octos fell into the ocean with it. Don’t worry! They were linked to Spawn Points. I saw the light on their ink tanks. The others that weren’t fell on the crates and broke them on impact.
Before the survivors got close, I threw a Toxic Mist Bomb at the floor. As they tried to get close they quickly ran out of ink from it. I ran up and used Splash Down on them. The explosion took them out, but destroyed more of the boxes. Then I immdiately moved my head out of the way as a sniper shot flew past me. I tossed a curling bomb at her and swam in its trail. She kept trying to shoot me and got out of the way when it exploded, but I was right behind her before I shot her down.
I looked around and saw the damage I caused. Heh… Whoops. Those who weren’t splatted got up and ran.
“Yeah! You better run!” I yelled.
I let out a sigh and walked back to check on the kid.
“Stop right there!” yelled a voice.
I turned around, thinking that the Octolings were back for more, but they weren’t Octolings. A group of Inklings wearing orange overalls, green boots and gloves and green and white caps surrounded me with their weapons out.
“What the heck did you do?!” said an Inkling girl. “You realize you just destroyed Grizzco property?!”
“You’re in a lot of trouble, kid!” said an Inkling boy.
“N-No! Wait!” I said. “I can explain!”
“STOP!” yelled a voice.
Erray walked out and pushed me out of the way. I was shocked to see that he changed his hair to match the color of the fuchsia ink left on the grounds. I forgot that Octarian ink took longer to disappear than Inkling ink.
“It was me…” Erray lied.
The Inklings looked at each other.
“His hair matches…” said the Inkling girl.
“Fine! Fine!” said the boy. “You! In the sweater! You’re coming with us!”
Erray surrendered his Splattershot and the Inklings escorted him away. He gazed at me one more time, and his eyes looked like they were saying thank-you. I decided to follow him to make sure he was okay and pulled out my phone to call Angel.
What kind of trouble has Erray gotten into…? I had no idea…
“Hey, Angel?” I said on the phone. “We have a problem…”
Chapter 8: Grizzco Industries
My fingers tapped the surface of the desk violently. I was trapped in a lone room with only a chair to sit on, the desk in front of me, and one light in the room. This situation was oddly and obviously familiar and that fact made me shiver. I wasn’t sure if I was being watched or not, so I tried to keep my fears suppressed.
Finally, after what felt like to be an eternity of silence, the door opened. That Octoling from earlier came in. I immediately stood up and backed into a wall.
“You won’t take me alive!” I shouted loudly, not caring if anyone else heard.
“Huh?” said the Octoling.
I grabbed the chair I was sitting in. This was a trap, wasn’t it?! Those Octarians always had a plan B!
“I’m not going back!” I yelled, raising the chair up.
Suddenly, an Inkling girl ran into the room. She was holding a Charger and pointing it right at me.
“Drop the chair!” the girl yelled. “Drop it, now!”
I dropped the chair… not because I wanted to, but because picking it up strained my shoulder wound. I fell on my knees and tried to ease the pain. The Octoling put the chair back in place and then reached out for me.
The Inkling sighed when I winced back in terror.
“He works for me, kid,” she said.
The Octoling guided me back into the chair. It was weird that he was being so nice to me about what happened… at least in my opinion.
“So… what happened?” said the girl.
“I don’t know…” said the Octoling. “ I walked in to see if he was okay and he flipped out.”
The girl checked her clipboard and wrote something down.
“Huh… Well… Go wait outside, I guess,” said the girl.
“Yes, ma’m, said the Octoling.
The Octoling walked out of the room and shut the door. I was still trying to catch my breath.
The Inkling girl had short orange hair that only went down to her shoulders. She wore a jacket that was mostly red with a broad gray stripe around the waist area with two pockets. A dress shirt could be seen underneath, since it wasn’t zipped up all the way. Her pants were plach and looked made of cotton cloth and she wore brown boots.
“So… Um… Erray… was it?” said the girl.
“Um… Yes,” I said.
“Right, then,” said the girl. “I’m Captain Arowana, leader of Squad Seven of the Salmon Run Brigade. Before you ask, no, I am not related to the guy who founded the Arowana Mall. Anyway… What are you doing here again?”
“I damaged Grizzco property…?”
Captain Arowana glanced at her clipboard.
“Oh! Right! Right…” she said. “So, according to this, you destroyed a crate of Grizzco weapons, shipments of Power Eggs and Golden Eggs and several cases of empty Splat Bombs. How do you plea?”
“Wait, I have a choice of a plea?”
“Ha ha ha!” the captain chuckled. “Of course not!”
“S-So, what are you going to do with me?”
“Well, under these circumstances the police would be here by now. But, luckily for you, I guess… Grizzco doesn’t roll that way…”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, my boss wants to talk to you or something…” the captain said, beginning to stumble to the door. She stepped out for a second and came back with a small wooden statue of an animal, with a fish in its mouth. A long radio antenna was attached to the top of its head. She pressed a button and there was the sound of a radio whirring on.
“You on, sir,” the Captain Arowana said.
“Hello, kid,” said a voice from the radio. His voice sounded low and raspy. I think whoever was talking was using some kind of modulator, too.
“Uh… hi,” I said.
“Welcome to Grizzco Industries,” the voice said. “I’m Mr. Grizz. My employees told me about what happened.”
“L-Look,” I said. “I… I’m sorry! I-It was an accident! I swear!”
“Yeah, well, saying it was an accident doesn’t fix my merchandise,” Mr. Grizz responded. “But, I will admit, that was quite a lot of damage back there.”
“Y-Yeah, I guess…” I said, shyly.
“Well, I’m sure Ms. Arowana has already informed you that we will not be calling the police.”
“Because I have a better idea than getting the fuzz involved,” Mr. Grizz said, confidently. “I want you to work here to pay off the damages.”
“W-Well… what would I have to do here?”
“Well, here at Grizzco, we’re tryin’ to make the world a better place,” said Mr. Grizz. “It just your run-of-the-mill manual labor type of work, but its for a good cause. So if you work here, no one goes to jail, and get to help shape the future of Inkopolis. It’s a win-win!”
“Well, I don’t want to go to jail…” I said.
“Well, I don’t either…”
“So, whaddya say?”
“Uh… Well, I guess I don’t have much of I choice,” I said. “I don’t have that kind of money.”
“Alright then,” said Mr. Grizz. “Captain Arowana?”
The captain was leaning against the door, but her eyes were closed.
“ANEMY!” Mr. Grizz shouted.
“Oh! What?!” Anemy said, jumping at the noise and dropping her clipboard. “I’m up!”
“Grr… Will you handle Erray’s training?” said Mr. Grizz.
“Huh? Uh, yeah… Okay…” said Anemy. She bent down to pick up her clipboard. “Come back here tomorrow and we can get started.”
“That sounds fine,” I said.
“Okay, then…” said Anemy. She placed my Splattershot on the desk. “You’re free to go, but don’t even think about running off on our deal. Mr. Grizz has eyes in more places than you think.”
Anemy left the room and took the radio with her. I got up to leave, but then Bass came in with Angel.
“Aw, there you are!” said Bass. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I said. “They just talked to me. That’s all.”
“What did they say?” said Angel.
“They want me to work here to pay off the damages,” I said.
“Are you sure you wanna do that?” said Angel.
“Well, I… kind of have to,” I said. “I don’t have any money.”
Bass and Angel walked me out of the building. Surprisingly enough, it was located near the square, right next to Deca Tower. It was slightly hidden by the shops near it.
“Don’t worry,” said Bass. “I’ll find a way to help you out.”
“How?” I said.
“There you are!” said a voice.
A girl with a black kimono and a green parasol walked up to us.
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” she said. “Thank-you for finding him!”
“Um… No problem,” said Bass.
“Let’s go, Erray,” the girl said, pulling me by the hand.
“Uh, bye,” I said, waving at Bass and Angel.
The girl led me away from the square and around the corner of a street.
“Um… Who are you?” I said.
The girl let go of my hand and moved the parasol away from her face. The facemask and hat…
“Agent 2?” I said.
“Yep,” said Agent 2. “Now do you mind telling me what the heck you were doing sneaking off like that?”
“I’m… sorry…” I said.
“Wait, wait,” said Agent 2. “Not here. Let’s just get you somewhere safe and then you can explain.”
Agent 2 guided me back through the secret way back to Cap’n Cuttlefish’s house.
“Guess who I found?” Agent 2 said, as she guided me through the front door.
Agent 1 ran into the living room.
“Hey! You found him!” Agent 1 said, cheerfully.
“Sit!” Agent 2 said to me, sternly.
I did as Agent 2 said and sat on the couch.
“Okay, now tell what the heck you think you were doing sneaking off like that,” she said.
“I went to the square to try and practice,” I said. “The cat they call Judd told me to leave after one match. He knew I was injured. Anyway, I was gonna head back, but I got attacked by Octolings.”
“What?!” said Agent 1. “Are you okay?”
“Well, I met a friend who helped,” I said. “But, he blew up some of Grizzo property, so I have to go back tomorrow and work for them.”
“Erray, I told you not to go out!” said Agent 2. “What if your friend didn’t show up to fight those Octarians for you? What then?”
“Well, I was sick of just doing nothing!” I said. “I-I’m scared, but I don’t want the Octarians to get away with what they’ve done!”
“I told you if you wanted to help, you have to rest and recover first,” said Agent 2.
“I felt useless!”
“Better you feel that way for a few days then have you dead in eight seconds,” said Agent 2.
“Uh, hate to interrupt,” said Agent 1, “but can you keep it down? The cap’n’s trying to sleep.”
“L-Look…” I said. “I’m really sorry… Today was just… really crazy for me, and I guess that’s what I get for disobeying what I was told…”
Agents 1 and 2 glanced at each other.
“But you know what?” I said. “I finally got to see Inkopolis. It’s beautiful… I’ve got to see Inkopolis. It’s beautiful… I’ve never seen so many creatures gathering to meet up in such a kind community, and Inklings using weapons not in the name of conflict, but for fun. The Zapfish is so much bigger in person. Again, I’m sorry for running off. It was selfish, foolish and irresponsible. Whatever you want me to do… I’ll do it.”
Agent 2 sighed. “When do you have to go back?”
“Tomorrow,” I said.
“Then off to bed with you,” said Agent 2. “You’ll need to be fully recovered by then. We can’t draw suspicion to us,”
“Okay…” I said, getting up. “Good-night.”
Agent 1 followed me into Agent 3’s old room. I kicked off my shoes and sat on the bed.
“Sorry about Agent 2,” said Agent 1. “My cousin has been pretty bitter since Agent 3 left.”
“Well, I was the one who ran off,” I said.
“It’s not just that…” Agent 1 said, looking solemn. “In… our line of work, we don’t have that many people to talk to…”
“What do you mean?”
Agent 1 tensed up.
“You… You said you really want to help us, right?” said Agent 1.
“When you’ve proven we can trust you, I promise to tell you everything,” said Agent 1. “Now get some sleep.”
Agent 1 walked out of the room. I laid on the bed and began to ponder Agent 1 and 2’s predicament. What kind of mess were they in since Agent 3 disappeared?
The exhaustion of today set in and I drifted off to sleep… wondering what tomorrow would bring…
Wait.. Did Agent 1 just say they were cousins?
My shoulder felt less painful the next morning. I hoped it would hold up today. Over in the kitchen, I found Agent 1 with Cap’n Cuttlefish.
“Mornin’, Erray,” said Cap’n Cuttlefish.
“Oh, hey,” I said. “Where’s Agent 2?”
“She’s out on an errand,” said the cap’n. “You really have a knack for getting yourself into trouble, don’t you?”
“I know,” I said. “I’m sorry, sir.” “Well… What’s done is done,” said the cap’n. “Agent 1 will take you to Grizzco today, and Agent 2 will take you back here when your shift is over. I don’t want you wandering into town right now. Those Octarians could be looking for you. Understand?”
“Yes, sir,” I said.
Agent 1 walked over with a bottle of medicine.
“I found some medicine that can help you today,” said Agent 1. “If the pain starts acting up, just take some of this. It should help. Swimming in your own ink will help you heal faster, too.”
“Thanks, Agent 1,” I said, taking the bottle.
“Alright, Agent 1,” said the cap’n. “Make sure he gets to Grizzco safely.”
“Yes, cap’n!” said Agent 1.
After breakfast, Agent 1 escorted me out of the base. We took the secret way to Inkopolis and took an alternate route to Grizzco that wasn’t through the square to avoid drawing attention.
“Okay,” Agent 1 said, as we approached the Grizzco building. “Is this the place?”
“Yeah…” I said.
“Okay,” said Agent 1. “I’ll watch you in. After that, I have to leave.”
“Okay… Thanks, Agent 1,” I said.
Agent 1 backed into the corner we turned from and didn’t leave until I entered the building. It was kind of chilly inside. Cans and coolers were lying around in somewhat messy stacks. The lights were a little dim. Nets were hanging from the roof with some sphere things caught in them. There were several screens on the wall and some kind of control panel on a wall adjacent to it. A lot of Inklings were around and the ones that were already in uniform were glancing over at me.
“Erray,” said Mr. Grizz.
I found the radio on top of one of the coolers and walked up to it.
“Glad to see you’re on time,” said Mr. Grizz.
“You can see me?” I said.
“Cameras,” said Mr. Grizz. “They’re everywhere.”
“Do you always talk through a radio?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why can’t you talk to me in person?”
“Are you crazy, kid?” Mr. Grizz said, suddenly raising his tone. “I can’t leave-Well, I think it’s better that I don’t tell you my location.”
I squinted slightly. This was getting really suspicious, but it’s not like I should question this place right now.
“Riiight…” I said.
“Just get over to the break room,” Mr. Grizz grumbled. “Orientation is happening there.”
“Um, yes, sir,” I said.
There was a hallway that led down to the breakroom. The room was lit with some dingy lights. The tables looked a bit scratched and there seemed to be a few stains on them. At least the wooden flooring and walls were a bit comforting. Many Inklings were sealed in the chairs and I took one, as well.
Anemy was standing at the front. She seemed absorbed in that clipboard of hers, before she saw the audience. She jumped when her phone went off.
“Huh?!” Anemy yelled in surprise. She pulled her phone and checked the time. “Oh….” After clearing her throat she began to speak. “Okay… Hey, everyone. Uh, I think I told you all yesterday, but… we have some new recruits. Due to, uh… unusual circumstances…” She stopped for a moment to look me in the eye. “I will be handling their training. So, uh, I guess Char will lead your shifts today. Is that okay?”
Anemy’s crew nodded.
“Alright,” said Anemy. “Newbies, come with me.”
I followed the new recruits with Anemy and we were outfitting with some Grizzco uniforms. They looked like the ones those Inklings wore when they confronted Bass and I.
After we were all in uniform, Anemy led us into a room and when she turned on the light, we were shocked to see pretty much every weapon in existence in the room.
“Take only one and meet me out on the deck,” said Anemy. “Splat Bombs will be provided for you… Oh, uh, and Mr. Grizz said to not even think about taking weapons off the property. He said that there cameras and went off to say a bunch of bad things and yadda, yadda, yadda… Anyway, get your weapons. I’m getting a soda.”
The new recruits walked around searching for the perfect weapon. I found a Splattershot and took it before anyone else.
As soon as everyone was on the docks, Anemy, soda in hand, led everyone onto the one of the ships. They had a big satellite stuck on each of them. We headed out to sea, and I hoped the driver knew what he was doing. It was dangerous for Inklings to be out on water.
Everyone stayed below deck until Anemy called us out. Weapons in hand, we went out onto the deck and Super Jumped to an island. We were all given life preservers to wear on our back and they somehow function as ink tanks.
A small island we stood on had a lot of metal platforms and ramps that led to higher points on the island. Grates hung over a lower level of the area. I wasn’t sure where on the ocean we were, but the water around us was green and a distinct smell was in the air.
A basket was set up near where they landed. The recruits assembled near it and Anemy stood in front of them.
“Welcome to the Salmon Run, kiddies,” Anemy said with a smirk. “Those of you standing before me have been assigned to my squad. I am your leader, Captain Arowana. Understood?”
“Yes!” the recruits said, along with myself.
“Alright, see those life savers on you backs?” said Anemy. “Basically, those are not only your ink tank, but are also the things that stands between you and a horrible death.”
The recruits gasped.
“See, unlike Inkopolis, there no Spawn Points out here,” said Anemy. “To substitute, those preservers are your Spawn Point, but a one of your teammates have to shoot it with ink for it to work. So, make sure your communicators are working. Now, I guess we should start today’s lesson.”
Anemy wandered to the side, quickly checking her clipboard.
“Okay, so there’s these creatures called Salmonids will come out of the water,” said Anemy. “Like those ones over there!”
Everyone looked over toward the shore of the island. Oddly shaped creatures were making their way onto the shore.
“Hey, Erray,” said Anemy. “How ‘bout you go take them out? Show the other recruits what you’re made of.”
“Sure,” I said, Splattershot in hand.
“Be careful,” said Anemy.
I carefully crept closer to the creatures. They were an odd shape. They had big eyes bulging out from the sides of their heads. Their hair pointed upward like a mohawk and… Were they holding frying pans?
Once one of them saw me, all three of them charged at me. Up close, I could see their strange crooked teeth.
I jumped back when a frying pan nearly hit my face. I ran and attacked the assaulter, then ran back a few feet to toss a bomb at the last two. Orange sphere looking things landed on the ground. Trails of green ink were left behind by the Salmonids.
“Good,” said Anemy. “Everyone grab those Power Eggs. We need them almost as much as the golden ones.”
“Gold ones?” I asked, as everyone ran in to gather the power eggs.
“Yeah, here’s where things get messy,” Anemy said, sounding like it was nothing.
“Captain, what’s that shiny thing over there?” said a recruit.
Anemy gazed at the shore with her binoculars.
“Golden Salmonid!” Anemy yelled. “Go get it!”
The recruits all yelled and ran at the Salmonoid. Some of them inked a path to swim in to go faster. I followed behind them and got to see the creature before wailing on it. It was bigger than those other Salmonids from before with shiny golden skin, which was probably why it took several shots to take it down and it wore what looked like a toga. The recruits picked up some Golden Eggs and Anemy signaled us to bring them back to the basket. I followed behind, but then I narrowly dodged the swing of a frying pan.
I was flustered and fell to the ground, but I managed to shoot the Salmonid in the face.
“Erray! On your feet!” Anemy yelled.
I pushed myself back onto my feet. More Salmonids began to rise out of the waters. Behind the smaller ones were a few bigger, more slow moving ones.
“You got specials on your head, kid!” said Anemy. “Use ‘em!”
I was wondering what those things on my hat were. I tore one of them off.
“What is this? An MRE?” I said.
“Just eat it!” Anemy yelled.
I tore into it like she wanted and suddenly, I was full of energy. I rose into the air and took out the surrounding Salmonids in an explosion.
“Nice Splashdown!” an Inkling boy said as he ran back over with a Roller. The rest of the recruits came to take out any stragglers.
“Wonderful!” Anemy said, twirling around. “Not bad for a training session. Let’s head back to the ship.”
We all saluted and Super Jumped back to the boat.
As we made our way back, I took a rest below deck. My shoulder and leg were only slightly sore, so I decided to take that medicine Agent 1 gave me.
“Sore?” said a voice.
I looked up from my seat and saw that the Anemy had followed me.
“Here,” she said, hand me another can of that soda she had earlier. “You’ve earned it.”
“Really?” I said, taking the soda from her.
“Meh, you were a bit jumpy, but you did good,” she said. “I’ll let Grizz know.”
I watched Anemy wander back above deck, whistling a song. I swore I’ve heard it somewhere, before…
“Thank-you…” I said.
After we got back to Grizzco, each of us were given a 338-page manual to read over, and we were each given a card used to check in and out with.
Once I stepped out of Grizzco, Agent 2 was waiting for me, still covering her face. I think it was only into the afternoon at the moment.
“So, how’d it go?” said Agent 2.
“Not bad,” I said. “It’s actually kind of fun.”
Agent 2 chuckled a bit.
“Glad to hear it,” she said. “C’mon. Let’s get you back.”
Manual in hand, I followed Agent 2 back. I was actually feeling a bit better. So, why couldn’t I escape the feeling that I was being watched…?
Chapter 9: Anniversary
Angel could still remember it like it was yesterday. She was finally in the city of Inkopolis. Inkopolis Tower was right in front of her, but she ran into another Inkling. Her hair was green and she had a Roller.
“Ooh! Another new Squid on the block!” she taunted, as she saw the Splattershot Jr. that had landed near her. Angel gasped when the girl took it.
“Hey, give it back!” Angel yelled, picking herself off the ground. She reached for it but the girl was just a bit too tall for her to reach.
“Are these stickers you put on supposed to be cute?” the Inkling joked.
“Hey! Leave her alone!”
The two turned their gaze to an Inkling boy with his tied back, blue hair. His sharp orange eyes focused on Angel’s assailant. He wore a white t-shirt, black shorts and a pair of sneakers.
“This doesn’t involve you, kid!” the Inkling girl spat.
“It will if you don’t give her weapon back!” he said, pulling out his Roller.
The girl rolled her eyes and threw Angel’s Splattershot back on the ground.
“Okay, tough guy,” said the girl. “We can settle this inside!”
The girl walked towards the tower with a smug look on her face. Angel ran over and retrieved her weapon.
“Are you okay?” said the boy.
“Uh… yeah…” Angel said, shyly. “I think so… Um…” She had to look away for a second. “Th-Thank-you. My name’s Angel.”
“Nice to meet you,” said the boy. “Oh! I guess I should tell you my name.”
“Angel?” Vichay said, snapping her out from her thoughts. She had been sitting on the couch in her apartment, lost in thought.
“Huh?” Angel responded, raising her head. “What?”
“You’ve been spacing out a lot lately,” said Vichay. “Is everything alright?”
“Yeah…” said Angel. “Did you do something?”
“I’m, uh… I’m gonna go out for a few hours,” said Vichay.
That made Angel raise a brow.
“For what?” she said.
“There’s… There’s something I need to take care of…” said Vichay.
“Um, okay,” said Angel. “Just be careful.”
“I always am,” said Vichay.
Angel saw her go. After she was gone, the Inkling lowered her head.
“Sounds just like him…” she muttered.
Bass had noticed Angel’s behavior, too. Luckily, he made one her favorite drinks and brought it over to her.
“Here,” he said. “I made some pink lemonade.” He set it down on the coffee table.
“Oh, you didn’t have to-”
“Please, it’s the least I can do for you letting me stay here,” said Bass.
Angel took the glass and had a taste. Then she set it back on the table.
“What? Too sweet?” said Bass.
“...Why?” said Angel.
“Angel… what’s wrong?” said Bass. “What did I do?”
Angel brought herself to look at her friend. Tears were streaming down from her silver eyes.
“How can you still care about me after everything?” said Angel.
Bass sat down next to Angel.
“Don’t talk like that!” said Bass. “You’re my friend, no matter what.”
“You were right!” Angel said, beginning to sob. “I blamed you… and Anemy! And everyone else! And when you gave up searching I called you all quitters!”
“Angel, it’s fine,” Bass said, pulling her into his arms. “I… I abandoned you after everything we went through in your time of need.”
Angel wiped her eyes. “I deserved that.”
“No, you didn’t!” said Bass. You managed to pick up the pieces even though you were alone. And I… I just ran away to a farm!”
“I didn’t do it alone,” Angel said, wiping away her tears.
“I know,” said Bass. He let Angel go, so she could sit properly. “I-I think-” He took a minute to gather his thoughts. “I think I’ve found some people who can help us find Agent 3.”
“Bass,” said Angel. “Not-”
“I’ll be careful,” said Bass. “I promise.”
Angel knew what he was talking about, but what could she do? It was that or talk to the Squid Sisters.
She turned to him with her lips trembling and her palms sweating.
“Okay,” she said.
“What is that?!” Erray yelled.
Erray, Anemy and two other workers were greeted by a massive Salmonoid that was covered in protective armor.
Anemy got out her charger.
“Boss Salmonid - Steelhead!” said Anemy. She held her teeth tightly as she saw a bomb appearing on the behemoth’s head. “Scatter!”
The squad swam a distance in their ink. The Steelhead threw down a large bomb, causing an explosion of dark green ink.
“Whoa…” said Erray. “Gah!” he yelled, as a green ray of ink barely missed. He began to run as the ray followed. Over by one of the edges of the small island was a small Salmonid with on top of a stack of pots and pans.
“I’ll leave the Steelhead to you,” said Anemy. “Shoot the bomb on its head before it throws it off its head. I’ll take the Stinger.”
Anemy swam away in her squid from form in our team’s orange ink. Erray swam up a inked wall, and stood on higher ground to shoot the Steelheads bomb while Coral and Char provided a distraction. Char’s Splattershot Pro had range, so he could shoot from the ground.
The next bomb exploded on the Steelhead’s head, dropping three Golden Eggs. Erray shot down a couple Salmonoids to help them secure them. Once all three were in the basket, they swam down to help their captain.
Ink Bombs were being through everywhere, wasting Salmonoids left and right. The Stinger had been taken down and we rushed in to secure the Golden Eggs lying nearby.
“Char! Coral! Get the eggs back!” Anemy ordered, as she continued rushing the enemies with bombs. Her glowing hair indicated she was full of energy, hence why the Bomb Rush.
“What about me?” Erray said, as Anemy shot down a Small Fry rushing at her. She walked up and put a hand on my shoulder.
“Step this way,” Anemy said, pushing me a few feet to the right
“What? Why?” said Erray.
Anemy turned around and threw a bomb at Erray’s previous location. A strange bobber was there and at that moment, an enormous monster emerged from the ink. Erray screamed and clung to the captain from behind as the monsters ate the bomb and exploded, leaving another three Golden Eggs.
“That’s why,” Anemy said, pushing the newbie off her, gently. “Keep an eye on your feet, kid. Let’s get those eggs back before the Snatchers show up.”
“Uh, aye-aye!” said Erray.
Erray was so glad after their shift was over. They had been working since the early morning into the afternoon. After returning the uniform, and changing back into his regular clothes, he went to go get his shoes.
Anemy sat down on the bench and set down a fresh can of cherry cola beside her. She relaxed for a few minutes before deciding to get her regular boots on. Several Inklings were chatting in the same room.
“I wish I had your confidence, ‘Miss’ Arowana,” said an Inkling girl. “I couldn’t imagine being so laid back as a captain.”
“How nice it must be to be Mr. Grizz’s favorite!” an Inkling boy said, shooting a glare.
Anemy paid them no heed and pulled out her phone to return a few texts.
“Fine then,” the boy went on. “Act like you’re better than us.”
“It doesn’t change the fact that you just another lowly worker, Anemy,” said another Inkling boy.
“Just doing run-of-the-mill manual type labor for the benefit for only one person… thing… Whatever Mr. Grizz is.”
Erray had walked in just then and sat by Anemy who had just finished messing with her phone.
“Captain, are you just gonna take that?” Erray whispered, angrily.
Anemy set her phone beside her and grabbed one of her boots.
“Why should words matter to me?” said Anemy
Anemy slipped on her right boot. Erray let out a sigh and gave up… until he heard his captain yell out in pain.
Quickly, Anemy pulled off her boot and slid her sock of her foot. She saw the bottom her foot bleeding. Ink dripped onto the floor. She shook her boot and saw a thorn fall out.
“Oh, someone get the first-aid kit,” said the first Inkling boy. “This fair captain appears to be bleeding.”
“Perhaps she got a blister?” said the Inkling girl. “She always seems to be working so hard,” she said rolling her eyes. And they started laughing.
“Hey!” Erray yelled. “You-”
Anemy reached over and covered his mouth. She stood up and walked over, despite her injury. The three Inklings seemed back away little.
“Very funny…” Anemy said in her usual, casual tone. “You’re all fired.”
“You can’t do that!” said the Inkling Girl.
“Page 25 of the Grizzco handbook,” said Anemy. “Assault on another employee is punishable by loss of employment.”
“We didn’t know that!” said the second Inkling boy.
“Well, if you spent more time reading the handbook than thinking about ways to torment a squad captain, you’d probably know that.” She pulled out her Splattershot from behind. “Now the get the shell away from me!”
“I thought weapons weren’t allowed in here!” said the Inkling girl.
“Well, I guess that’s what I can do for being ‘Grizz’s favorite’,” Anemy said, smirking. She readied her weapon and the other Inklings ran out of the room.
Erray walked over to Anemy’s side.
“Are you okay” said Erray.
“I’m fine…” Anemy said. Her eye was twitching slightly through the pain.
“Here,” Erray said, guiding her back to the bench. He ran over to the corner of the room and came back with first-aid kit.
Anemy tried to reach for the supplies, but Erray pushed her hand away.
“Relax,” said Erray. “I’ve got this.” He pulled out a cloth and put some disinfectant on it. “This might sting a little.”
Anemy held her teeth tightly at the stinging sensation and squeezed her eyes shut. Eventually, the pain faded and Erray wrapped her foot in some bandages. When he was done, he saw his captain drinking her soda, acting like normal.
“There you go,” Erray said, letting go of her foot. He closed the first aid kid and got up to put it away.
“Hm?” Anemy glanced downward. “Oh. Well done.” She set her foot on the ground gently, trying not to apply pressure. “Um, you didn’t have to-”
“It’s the least I can do after what they did,” Erray said, turning to face her. “You did offer me a soda, too.”
“Right…” Anemy said.
“Um, are you okay?” said Erray.
“Course I am…” said Anemy. She took a heavy drink from her soda. “Why should I care about what they did. I didn’t bleed out, did I?”
“Oscar!” Anemy yelled down the hallway.
The Octoling from the other day walkede in.
“Yes, captain?” said Oscar.
“Um…” Anemy couldn’t piece together the words. So, she just held out her right foot.
“Oh,” said Oscar. “Do you want me to help you back to your quarters?”
“Yeah…” said Anemy. She grabbed her soda with one hand and wrapped her other arm around Oscar. He helped her walk out of the room.
“Thanks, Erray,” Anemy said, sounding defeated.
Erray watched her go. It was the first time he had actually seen her so… vulnerable, and sounded so sincere. He wondered if she was going to be okay. Even though he feared and somewhat despised Octarians, he was sure Anemy was in good hands, so he decided to head back.
Marie sat on the couch in her apartment. She was finally able to go home and not be busy with work or being Agent 2. Cap’n Cuttlefish said he would guide Erray back today, so she was free to relax.
As usual, Callie wasn’t here. It hurt even more that this had become routine. She thought it would get better after they had worked together to rescue Erray, but she knew they had done missions alone, too. She tried to take her mind off things and watch TV, but the Off the Hook broadcast reminded her of Callie even more. It seemed they were spending more and more time apart…
The thoughts of the last Splatfest they hosted began to poke at her mind again.
How did Callie truly feel at the end of that last Splatfest? Marie thought to herself. She knew she was disappointed, but she was a good sport about it… right? She did notice they were fighting more. Is my popularity making Callie mad at me? She thought.
The memories of their last fight began to play again in her thoughts. Why couldn’t Calie accept that Agent 3 was gone and had no reason to come back?
“Agent 3’s gone! Geez, when will you get that?!”
“It’s been two years! Isn’t that a bigger sign than anything?!”
They had barely spoken since that day. Whenever they had a fight, they used to make up by the end of the day, but it had been days since they fought and they still hadn’t patched things up.
Marie lowered her head into her hands. It was times like these that she truly missed Agent, despite the idiot just up and abandoning them.
She leaned back against the couch.
Today was the anniversary, she realized. How long has it been since Agent 3’s desertion? Two years? She recalled the good old days. Her grandfather going missing did make her worry, but for the first time in so long, she had met someone who didn’t freak out at the mere sight of her and her cousin and liked them for who they were, not what they were.
It seems I’m driving everyone away nowadays… Marie thought, as green, transparent tears ran down from her eyes.
“I’m sorry, Callie,” Marie said, beginning to weep.
“Busy?” Callie said, as she peeked into Agent 3’s old room. Erray was sitting on the bed reading the Grizzco manual. There was a desk he could use, but she was glad that he respected her wishes to not touch Agent 3’s things.
Erray glanced up from his reading and looked at Callie.
“Oh, hey Agent 1,” said Erray. “I thought Cap’n Cuttlefish was here watching me.”
“He had to take care of something, so here I am,” said Callie. “The cap’n told me you’re feeling better.”
“Thanks to your help,” said Erray. He felt his shoulder, no longer feeling any pain. Then he lowered it. “It’s been a long time since I’ve met nice cephalopods like you.”
Callie smiled, but his compliment made her even more scared to finally tell him.
“U-Um… Look,” said Callie. “I-I didn’t just come here to check on you. I need to ask you something.”
“What is it?” said Erray.
“Well-” said Callie.
The two were interrupted when they heard a loud shattering noise.
“What was that!” Erray jolted back in shock. He rose to his feet, trembling slightly.
“Gramps?” said Callie.
There was no answer. Callie turned to Erray.
“Get the Splattershot,” said Calle.
Erray ran to the closet to get it. Callie reached into her room to get her Roller. She took the lead Erray followed closely behind. They entered the hallway and saw that the door to the basement had broken ope. Quickly, they rushed down the stairs and to their shock and dismay, Octavio was standing outside of the snow globe, that was now broken with Octolings at his side.
“Octavio!” Erray said, stopping as Callie went forward.
If Octavio was in in his humanoid form, he’d be smiling at Erray trembling. He was afraid of him and they both knew it.
Callie held up her Roller.
“How did you get out?” Callie yelled, harshly.
“It’s all thanks to your friend leading my followers here,” Octavio said, smugly.
Erray gasped. Callie turned to him when he heard him yell. He ran forward and aimed his weapon, but an Octoling shot it out of his hands. Octavio grabbed Erray and threw him into a metal shelf nearby. He fell to the floor, motionless.
“ERRAY!” Callie yelled.
The last thing Erray remembered through the pain in his head, was Callie jumping in to save him...
Chapter 10: the Next Step
I still remember climbing out that window and looking in my bedroom one last time. Then I took in the fresh air outside. It was warm for so late in the night. This would probably be the last time I would see my hometown.
I still remembered walking to the bus stop. How would they feel? How do they feel now? I only wish I could tell them I was sorry…
My mind was blank when I finally felt my senses coming back to me. My forehead was throbbing with pain, causing my closed eyes to tighten, but I fought through it to open them. The lights above were almost too bright for me. I had to block it out with one of my hands. Turning my head slightly, I saw I was back in Agent 3’s old room, lying on the bed. My facemask was on the nightstand.
“Erray!” It sounded like Agent 2. With a few quick footsteps, she came into view.
“Agent… 2?” I croaked. My throat felt really dry.
“Are you okay?” said Agent 2. “I came back here and I found the front door broken. I ran in and found you in the basement with a gash on your forehead.”
Immediately, I remembered what happened. Talking to Agent 1, going down into the basement, and-
“W-Wait!” I said, trying to sit up. “Wh-Where’s… Where’s Agent…” I felt my forehead, feeling the bandages. “Agent…” I became distracted by the room spinning.
Agent 2 lowered me back against the pillows.
“Where’s Agent 1?” I said.
“I don’t know,” said Agent 2. “I came in and everyone was gone.”
“C-Cuttlefish?” I said.
“He’s still out getting groceries,” said Agent 2. “Oh, where are you?” The Inkling looked around the room, shaking in worry.
I turned away and closed my eyes. How could I tell her what happened? I thought.
Agent 2 grabbed my shoulder and shook me.
“Erray, stay awake!” she said. “You just got a bad blow to the head!” She grabbed another pillow from the closet and set under my head so I could sit up. “Erray, where’s Agent 1?”
The memory continued to flash through my mind. My mouth struggled to form the words. I was dreading where she was, or what could be happening to her.
Agent 2 grabbed me by the shoulders.
“Erray, you have to tell me!” she pleaded, desperately. “Where's she?! Where’s my cousin?!”
“O… Octavio..” I finally said, my hands shaking. “I-I… I think he took her.”
Agent 2 set me back down and backed away. Her golden eyes began to fill with tears.
“N-No…” she said, her voice trembling. “H-He couldn’t have-”
I hung my head low.
“I saw her jump in to save me before I passed out…” I said.
There was silence. I forced myself to look up at Agent 2… and she was glaring.
“I’m sorry…” I said.
“Yeah, you should be…” Agent 2 said, storming to the door.
Agent 2 slammed the door shut. I heard her footsteps before they grew faint. Lying on the bed, I shuddered to think about what Octavio wanted with her.
It should’ve been me… I thought. She didn’t deserve this.
I had gone to Inkopolis Square and used working at Grizzco to try and get back on my feet to fight. Octavio was there, right in front of me… and in the end, I couldn’t do anything for Agent 1…
Cap’n Cuttlefish was back soon. I didn’t really understand what he and Agent 2 were saying, since they were in the living room. Their exchange sounded serious, though… as it should be.
I was bedridden for the rest of the day. Agent 2 would only come in to bring me food and nothing more. She wouldn’t even talk to me.
By nightfall, I was able to get up. I had to grab nearby objects for support. The cap’n made dinner and I insisted that I go to the kitchen and meet him.
With a hand against the wall and the other on my forehead, I made my way down the hall. Then I heard the whirring of a radio coming from Agent 1’s room.
I stumbled close to the slightly opened door and saw Agent 2 in there. She was sitting at a table with a radio in front of her and a mic to her mouth. Her hand wiped one of her eyes before she began to speak.
“Agent… Agent 3?” Agent 2, finally said. Her voice sounded dry. I assumed she had probably been crying. “Yeah… It’s me. Agent 2… I… I have tried being patient. We all have. We have tried to reason with you… I am done using reason! This is no longer a request. I am ordering you to come back!”
“When you signed up from the New Squidbeak Splatoon, you made a promise: To protect Inkopolis and the world. You swore to uphold that, even if it demanded sacrifice.”
I gasped, forcing myself to cover my mouth so I could be silent. Marie had stood up, slamming her fists into the table.
“She’s gone, Agent 3!” Agent 2 yelled, harshly. “She’s kept her faith in you this entire time and now she’s gone. Inkopolis, your home, is in danger! We’re the ones who took you in and called you family! DOES THAT MEAN NOTHING TO YOU?!”
Agent 2’s arms shivered. I could see her teeth out. This was actually the first time I had seen her mouth. Well, partially. Her eyes are shaded by the dimly lit room and her hair.
She sank back in her chair and I backed away from the door.
“I guess I have my answer…” she said.
Realizing I had spent too much time here, I continued down the hall. It began to be filled with the sound of Agent 2’s weeping…
I’m sorry, Agent 1, I thought, wiping away years of my own. I began to wonder if it would have been better if I never came here…
I didn’t know how I got to sleep that night, but I was tired the next morning. So, I knew I didn’t sleep much. After changing the bandages on my head, I headed out towards the living room. The house was a lot quieter and I couldn’t find the cap’n in the rooms I was allowed to go in. At least the mess had been cleaned up from yesterday. It would probably be a while before the door to the basement was fixed.
Then, out on the porch, I saw someone standing there. It had to be Agent 2, because of that kimono and parasol.
I tried to open the front door quietly, but it squeaked when I turned it. Agent 2 turned around, causing me to pull my hands away from the door. She was wearing that facemask and that hat again.
“Oh, you’re up,” said Agent 2.
I opened my mouth to speak, but no words would come out. She walked over and opened the door again to get inside.
“C’mon. I’ll make you cereal,” said Agent 2.
I followed Agent 2 into the kitchen and grabbed a seat. She asked which cereal I wanted and she grabbed a bowl and poured it for me. I stood up to get milk, but she pushed me back into my seat and got it for me.
“I’m sorry for what I said yesterday,” Agent 2 finally said. She set her parasol aside. “It’s just… my cousin and I had a fight, and I wanted to… Look, it’s been tough between us lately, but we were supposed to tell you yesterday.”
“Wait… tell me what?” I said.
“We think you’re ready to know who we really are,” said Agent 2.
“Um… Who are you, then?” I said.
Agent 2 reached for her hat and took off her facemask. Finally, I got to see what she actually looked like.
“My real name is Marie,” said Agent 2. The Inkling who saved you - Agent 1 - She’s my cousin, Callie.”
“C-Callie?” I said. Then I gasped. “D-Does that mean you’re-”
“Yes, I’m THAT Mare,” Marie said, holding up her arms to make a pose. “You know, from the Squid Sisters.”
“Whoa..” I said. My heart was racing. I was in front of a celebrity and now she’s also a hero. “I-I… I don’t know what to say…”
“Alright, I know you’re a bit starstruck, but I need you to get over it,” said Marie.
“Um… okay,” I said. “But, why didn’t you tell me this sooner?”
“We didn’t want to overwhelm you while you were still in a fragile state,” said Marie. “So, the cap’n, Callie and I thought it was best to keep our identities a secret until yesterday.”
My hands balled up into fists on the table.
“That’s what Agent 1… I mean, Callie. She was going to tell me this, wasn’t she?” I said.
“Yeah,” said Marie. “If you know anything about the Great Turf War, you would know that it’s left scars that still haven’t healed. What do you know about the Great Turf War, Erray?”
“Well, rising sea levels caused the two races - Inklings and Octarians - to fight over the remaining territory,” said Erray. “The Octarians were led by General Octavio and the Inklings were led by… Captain… Cuttlefish…. Wait! Is your grandfather-”
“Yes…” Marie said with a sigh.
I guess that explains why he’s been keeping an eye on them… I thought.
“Anything else?” said Marie.
“After the Octarians were defeated they were banished from the surface and forced to make a home underground,” said Erray. “I had heard stories of that law being lifted, but… some Inklings aren’t willing to change…”
“Hate, discrimination, prejudice…” said Marie. “These are some of the reasons of why the Octarians want to strike back. But Octavio… He just wants revenge. The surface could be completely equal to both races and he still wouldn’t be satisfied.”
Marie took a seat across from me.
“Two years ago, the Great Zapfish, the one hundred year old Zapfish that powers Inkopolis was stolen. The cap’n knew that this a part of Octavio’s plan for revenge. So, he got Callie and myself to try and stop him. Being pop stars, however, made us busy girls and we didn’t want to draw suspicion. So, we recruited another Squid who believed in cap’n’s story enough to not call him crazy. With that, we were called Agents and the New Squidbeak Splatoon was born.”
“The Inkling you recruited…” I said. “That was Agent 3, right?”
Marie formed a frown. She closed her eyes and fought it back to look at me once more.
“Yeah…” she said. “Obviously… When we defeated Octavio, we imprisoned him in that snow globe you saw in the basement. But he’s free now… and from the looks of things, Agent 3 has left us on our own.” She grasped her hands together. “I don’t know if I deserve to ask you, considering that I couldn’t protect my cousin, but…”
“You want me to join you?” I said.
“We’re a secret society of heroes who protect the world from the Octarian menace,” said Marie. “So, you can’t expect the city will throw you a parade for this, and I understand if you’re scared after what the Octarians did.”
I took a deep breath. Already, my hands were shaking, but I had to fight it.
“I… I’ll do it,” I said. “I’ll help you track down Octavio.”
“Are you sure?” said Marie.
“I thought you’d be happy,” I said.
“I just… I spent the whole morning trying to figure out how I was going to convince you,” said Marie.
“Look,” I said. “I have family back home. After what those Octarians did to me, I don’t want them or anyone to experience the same fate. Please. I want to help. Besides, I owe it to Callie to at least try.”
“...Alright,” said Marie.
Marie and I turned to the doorway and saw Cap’n Cuttlefish walking in.
“Mornin’, bucko,” the cap’n said. He sounded really. It made sense since one of his granddaughters was squidnapped. He turned to Marie. “So?”
“He wants to help us,” said Marie.
“Really?!” the cap’n said, joyfully. “You see, Marie? I told you things were about to change,”
Marie looked to the floor, but I could see a small smile.
“Well then, I guess it’s time we welcome the boy into our group,” said the cap’n. “Any opposed?”
Marie shook her head. She was the only one to say yes or no, given the circumstances.
“Alright, then,” said the cap’n. “Erray, stand up and come this way.”
I stood up and walked over to the cap’n. We stood in the light shining down from the window and Marie stood up to witness.
“Erray Trow. Do you swear to protect Inkopolis and the world and to keep the innocent safe?” said the cap’n.
“Yes,” I said.
“And to never share our secrets or tell anyone who we are unless it’s absolutely necessary and with my permission?”
“Wait!” Marie blurted out. She stepped over and firmly gripped my shoulder. A glare appeared on her face.
“Do you swear to stand by our side no matter what?” she said, seriously.
“Um… yes,” I said.
Marie sighed and stepped back, giving the cap’n a nod.
“Then we welcome you aboard, Erray,” said the cap’n. “Starting today, you are now Agent 4 of the New Squidbeak Splatoon!”
Chapter 11: the Night Shift
“Ugh… Shut up…” I groaned at the sound of my alarm clock. My right hand reached around for the button and I ended up hitting the snooze one.
After that, I sighed, sinking back into the sheets. Then my phone went off…
“Cod, dang it!” I said, reaching for my cell phone that was on my nightstand. It was Grizz. “What?”
“Are you still sleeping?” said Mr. Grizz. “It’s almost way into the afternoon.”
“Ugh! Cut me some slack, Grizz,” I said. “I was up late dealing with those crew wipes from Marooners Bay yesterday.”
“What did they say this time?”
“Same old thing as last time,” I said. “Silver Salmonid this and silver Salmonid that… There’s no such thing as a silver Salmonoid!”
“Maybe, but whatever is out there, is interfering with getting those Golden Eggs!” Grizz yelled, clearly outraged. “Anemy, I need you to get to the bottom of this.”
“Fine,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Permission to use-”
“Granted. Just get that Salmonid!”
“Fine… Seventh captain out.”
I hung up and then my alarm went off again. I fell back, burying my face in a pillow and yelling in frustration. Finally, I dragged myself out of bed and let my bare feet touch the floor. I had to move the pillows and adjust the bed sheets to fold the bed back into a couch.
Just another day at Grizzco… I thought. I walked over to my closet in the back of the room and pulled out my dress shirt and Juice Parka sweater. By the way, that’s what my sweater was called. I didn’t make the name, I think Grizz did. I also got some new boots. They were Grizzco officials. They were black with edgings that changed color based on what your ink color is. I think Grizz called them Angry Rain Boots.
After folding the futon, I pushed the old coffee table back near the couch. Several old stains were on it and I never did know where they came from, or how to get rid of them. But hey, like I care.
I walked over to the back wall. That’s where I kept my weapons. Several were on the table from which I was trying to fix or improve. The manual written by Sheldon went on and on, thought and it sat on that same table, left open with a thin layer of dust.
Splat Charger on my back, and Splattershot at my side, I made my way out of my room, down the hall and into the break room. The next shift wasn’t for another hour or two, so not many employees were around.
I knew it’d be a bit before my coffee would be ready, so I switched on that TV stuck on the wall in the corner and watched for a few minutes. Off the Hook was on right now. Their banters were a little humorous.
“Pearl, stop giving shout-outs and read the news! I heard Marina say, as I pour coffee into a mug.
“Okay, fine!” Pearl said. I shook my head, giving a slight chuckle. “Guess we should show the Ranked Battle stages.” She paused for a second, while I waited for my drink to cool. “Uhh… Why is our producer freaking out?”
I glanced at the screen, seeing both Pearl and Marina staring past the camera. Man, I thought they’d actually show the producer freaking out.
“I’m not sure,” said Marina.
“Well, read the teleprompter!” said Pearl.
“Huh? Let’s see here…”
I sighed, beginning to take a drink. The turntables Marina had were turned and I heard a new image being displayed.
“Oh no! Pop superstar Callie of the Squid Sisters has gone missing!” Marina cried.
And like that, I spat out my drink.
“Cod, dang it!” I yelled, staring at the mess I made on the counter.
“NOOOO! NOT CALLIE!” Pearl shouted. “Do something, Marina!”
“Uh, okay,” said Marina. “I’ll put together a search part-”
“Whatever,” Pearl then said, leaning back in her bean bag chair. “I’m sure she’ll turn up at some point. In other news…”
“But shouldn’t we form a search party or someth-”
“And that’s all the time we’ve got!” said Pearl. She stood up from her seat. “Until next time… A-hem!” She signaled for Marina to come over. Marina sighed and moved her turntables.
“Don’t get cooked… Stay off the hook!”
Pearl and Marina held their pose as the broadcast ended.
Callie… missing?! How the heck does that work? I wonder what happened? Last time I checked, Marie was more popular than Callie. Even then, they were probably the biggest thing in Inkopolis right now. I’ve never heard a story of a currently popular celebrity dropping off the radar.
Well, whatever. I guess I’ll worry about that later. I had a Salmonid to hunt down!
After cleaning up that mess in the breakroom, I went back to my room. I walked over to my desk seeing all the clutter of reports from last night. I sat in my chair and read over them. After reading several, I began to see a pattern. So, I made a note of its movements and drew on a map I had of Marooners Bay.
Grizz called me after hours into my investigation.
“Yes?” I said.
“Did you find anything?” said Grizz.
“I’ve read over the reports, and noticed a pattern,” I said, leaning back in my chair and putting my feet up. “This ‘silver Salmonid’ only appears at night on Marooners Bay. And, from the looks of it, the tide has to be low for it to happen.”
“Well, that’s all I got,” I said. “I’d like to assemble a group and head out on a night watch there. I’ll send you the list of volunteers when I have it.”
“Alright. Go ahead and try to recruit Trow while you’re at it,” Grizz responded. “Tell him I’ll take a huge chunk off his debt if he decides to help you.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said. “Seventh captain out.”
So, I got out my squad list and started calling in employees one by one. Some were up for it, some weren’t. Oscar said yes in a heartbeat. I swear, that kid is up for anything. Coral was afraid of the dark so that was a no. Char was up for busting some Salmonid heads.
And then there was Erray…
I was taking inventory in the storage house. Then Grizz called.
“Talk to me,” I said.
“Erray’s here,” said Mr. Grizz. “I sent him to your room.”
“Fine. I’ll meet up with him. Seventh captain out.”
I left the storage house and made my way back to the main building. Erray was probably in my room by now. I just never thought he’d be a snooper.
When I got there, he was looking at my weapons. The one roller I had was in his hands. It was blue with multiple Squid Sister and star stickers on it.
“Hey, don’t touch that!” I snapped.
Erray gasped. He set the roller back down on the table and backed away.
“S-Sorry,” Erray said, pulling his hands close to him. “I-I didn’t mean…”
I walked over and examined the roller for myself. There didn’t appear to be any damage.
“I-It’s fine…” I said, setting it down. “Just be careful around it. This is custom.”
“Oh. I didn’t know you used rollers, too,” said Erray.
“I don’t,” I said, walking back to my desk. “It’s my brother’s.”
“You have a brother?”
“Finn,” I answered. “But that’s not why I called you here.”
“Of course,” Erray said, slowly making his way to my desk. His head hung a little low in embarrassment, but he kept his eyes on me. There, I showed him the map I’ve been marking on, but also noticed the light green bandana he had around his forehead.
“What’s with the bandana?” I said. “Is that one those things you Squids call…”
“Gear?” Erray said.
Erray reached up and adjusted it a bit. I saw a thin layer of bandages.
“Oh, sorry,” he said. “I, uh… got injured a few days ago.”
“How?” I said.
“Uh, it’s kind of personal, captain,” said Erray.
“Fine. I won’t pry. I glanced down at my map. “Do you know what this place is?”
“Uh, no?” said Erray.
I reached under my desk for a cherry soda.
“This is Marooners Bay,” I said, opening the can. “It’s the sight of an old abandoned ship. It’s been plated with metal for our convenience, of course.” I pointed to the shore far from the ship. “Now, Mr. Grizz has been given dozens of reports of a suspicious looking Salmonid that’s been appearing at night or when there’s fog, but this one is silver.”
“What?” said Erray. “But that’s-”
“Not in the Grizzco manual,” I finished. “Exactly. Regular attacks can’t do the guy in and by the time the employees think to use their specials, they get splatted.”
“So… you want me to help?” Erray said, as I took a drink from my soda. I held up my hand to tell him to wait a moment.
“Well, there’s you…” I continued, setting the can down. “I already asked Oscar. Coral’s afraid of the dark, so she’s out.”
Erray gasped, but it looked he tried to hide it by covering his mouth.
“What?” I said.
“D-Dark?” Erray said, nervously.
“Yeah,” I said. “The Salmonid only comes out at night when the tide is low. That’s why I wanted to ask if you wanted to come here tonight and help out instead of now. Grizz said he’d take a huge chunk off your debt if you do.”
“Uhh… Is night really the only time?” said Erray.
“Well, there’s no reports of it in the day. What? You afraid of the dark or something?”
“Wh-What? N-No! Not at all!”
“Sounds like it,” I said, before taking another drink.
“I’m not!” said Erray. “I was just about to accept!”
“Cool.” I searched my desk for that dang clipboard, so I could write his name down. “Okay. I’ll make sure they let you in tonight. Now get out. I need to sleep for tonight.”
“Ugh! Fine…” said Erray.
“What was that?”
“Yes, Captain Arowana.”
“Okay, now you can go,” I said. I kepting filling out some paperwork as he walked out.
This is classified to the other employees, but Mr. Grizz demanded that I continue my investigation of the incident at the docks. Not that there was much of a crime scene to work with…
If Erray fessed up then he’s guilty, right? True, but Grizz saw something was amiss. According to Erray’s report, he said that he and Bass were playing around and Erray caused all that damage, because he got too rowdy.
I’ve been watching how Erray behaves and he doesn’t seem like the rowdy type. In fact, he’s pretty shy. He minds his manners… for the most part, but how he acts around Oscar is… questionable. He’s not the only Octoling to work here, but Erray keeps his distance from all of them. I don’t know how he is outside of work, but he’s a bit jumpy, if not paranoid. It’s almost like he’s constantly looking over his shoulder. Sorry to say, but this is far from someone who’s rowdy. Erray constantly kept his ink color on purple, but the color found was pinkish. If he was gonna confess, anyway, why change ink color for the crime?
So, that’s basically what I jotted down for my report. I’m no private investigator, but the contradictions are clear.
Ooh, boy! But tonight was all the more crazy…
So, I was in the breakroom. The map of Marooners Bay was on the wall and a table was set aside for tonight’s workers. An hour would go by before anyone would be allowed in tonight, so I caught up on sleep.
Too bad Grizz’s radio was right next to me.
“Uh… What?” I said, raising my head from the table.
“The meeting is about to start in five minutes,” said Mr. Grizz. “Can you PLEASE pretend you care?”
“Fine…” I grumbled. “I really don’t think this Salmonid is real, though.”
“How about, if you nab this Salmonoid, I’ll give you a raise?” said Mr. Grizz.
I gasped, a palm slapping down on the table.
“Really?! No fooling?!”
“Have I ever been fooling?”
“No, I guess not… So, did you get that report I sent in?”
“Well, you certainly have been doing your homework on Mr. Trow. Even drew a doodle of him, huh?”
“Yeah, you know… Like a suspect artist,” I said, crossing my arms.
“But we already know what he looks like,” said Mr. Grizz.
“I do. You don’t… until now.”
“Well, I didn’t expect you to draw him so cute.”
“Hey, it ain’t cute!” I said, sharply, while point at the radio. I’ll mess you up… wherever you are.”
“Whatever,” said Mr. Grizz. “It should be time to open up. I’ll tell security to start letting the people on the list in.”
“Alright,” I said, getting up.
One by one, the employees I called here tonight started to come in. Soon, everyone was here… including Erray.
“We all here?” I said, taking a count. “Yeah, I guess so. Alright! Hey, everyone! It’s very important to Mr. Grizz that you’ve decided to assemble here tonight. So, you’ve all been informed of that ‘silver Salmonid' business, right?”
I looked around the room, seeing most of the employees nod.
“Well, Grizz has asked us to take care of it. I’m gonna warn you right now that the night shift can be a little more dangerous. If you haven’t read your Grizzco manuals, you best read that section on night jobs on the way to Marooners Bay. Any questions?”
Char raised his hand.
“Um, how are we gonna take down that silver Salmonid?”
“Oh. Right,” I said. “Mr. Grizz has given me special permission to use special gear not normally allowed on regular shifts.”
Oscar sat in the chair next to Char, swinging his feet excitedly.
“Oh! What weapons are we using?” he said.
“Well, Grizz is allowing the use of items that are not Splat Bombs as sub weapons,” I said. “I’ve modded some of the Ink Mines to a remote control, but I couldn’t disable the trigger that activates when you trip over it. So, if they don’t work…”
I reached into the cabinet and pulled out our secret weapon. It basically looked like a Blaster, but it’s been altered to the extreme. Various parts of the exterior were taken apart from it for modifying and adding other parts to power it up.
“Workers, I present to you the Grizzco Blaster,” I continued. “This lovely little machine has the power of a regular Blaster, with the firing rate faster than the Clash Blaster.”
“Whoa…” Most of the workers stared in curiosity.
“Sheldon would never let that be used at Deca Tower…” said Gill.
“Yeah, well no telling anyone!” I said. “Now grab your weapons and head to the dock.”
“Yes, captain!” the squad all said. And they began to head to prepare.
Once we were on the boat, we headed out to sea. It wasn’t long until we got to Marooners Bay. There stood a decommissioned ship, surrounded by land. Metal covered it with ramps to make it accessible. A set of platforms with switches were on the sides of the ship for quicker access on and off it.
We super jumped to the ship and set up the basket. While the others inked the area for faster movement, I scanned the area with a pair of binoculars. The sun was almost all the way down, but few lights had been put up… too bad they were dim.
“Yeah?” I said. It sounded like Erray.
“Why did we bring the basket?”
“Well, we don’t know if that Salmonid is gonna turn up tonight,” I said, lowering my binoculars. “But I guess we might as well get some golden eggs.” I turned to face him. “Are you shades?”
Maybe it was the soda, or maybe I’m just that stupid. How did I not notice that he came in with shades. And why did no one report this?!
“Um… yes?” Erray responded.
“How are you gonna see with those on?” I said.
“Uh… They look good on me, okay?” said Erray.
“You can’t bring additional stuff out on Salmon Run without permission,” I said. “It’s against Grizzco policy!”
I tried to reach for them, but Erray backed away.
“Erray, hand them over!” I said. “That’s an order!”
“Captain, please!” Erray pleaded. He held out his hand to keep me away. “I’m fine!”
I shot a glare.
“Erray…” I said.
Oscar walked up during our struggle. Erray struggled to keep my hands away, but grabbed my wrists. We ended up falling onto the ground. Even when I was on top of him, he continued to fight.
“Well, this is embarrassing, now is it?” I said.
“Only because you’re making it that way!” Erray barked.
“Um, Captain?” said Oscar.
“Yes, Oscar?” I said, fighting against Erray’s strength. “I’m kind of busy here.”
“Look what I found!” Oscar said, excitedly.
I looked over. Oscar had a glowing bug in his hand.
“Isn’t it cool?” He said.
“Is that a glowfly?” said Erray.
I stood up and ran over to Oscar.
“Cod! Oscar, get to the back of the ship!” I said, pushing him away from the basket. I then pushed the button by it, setting one loud siren to alert the others.
“GLOWFLIES!” I shouted. “Everyone return to the basket!”
“What’s going on?” Erray said, stumbling to his feet.
“Get your weapon and start shooting!” I ordered.
“Y-Yes, captain,” said Erray.
Quickly, the other employees were gathered back by the basket. Oscar looked around as more glowflies surrounded him. He didn’t seem bothered at all.
Then they came. Salmonids rushing in single files towards the source of the light. Their eyes were red with crazed fury. The squad open fired, some sneaking off to get the golden eggs the Goldies dropped.
“Careful,” I said. “Don’t get caught in the trail.” I held my teeth tight as the glowflies began to surround me instead of Oscar. “Carp! Oscar, take over!”
I jumped to the back. Oscar stepped forward with his Slosher to provide assistance. Full of energy from an MRE I threw an array from Splat Bombs at the frenzied Salmonids while the other recruits reloaded.
“I’m going for it!” Char exclaimed. He summoned his Stingray and open fired at the line, buying the fellow employees more time to nab some Golden Eggs before the Snatchers showed up.
The glowflies began to leave after that. The Marooners Bay was soon quiet once again.
I looked over at Erray, trying to regain his breath.
“Wh… What was that?” said Erray.
“The Salmonids are attracted to glowflies,” I answered. “There are theories as to why, but none are concrete. All I knew is run for your life if a glowfly is on you out here.” I turned to the rest of the crew. “Good work. Now keep an eye out. The tide is sure to go out soon. We’ll have to set up the basket down by the shore once it does.”
Everyone wandered around on break. Then I saw Erray alone by the back. He was adjusting his shades.
“You realize if you don’t take those off, I’m going to have to report this,” I said.
“Th-That’s fine…” said Erray.
The kid lowered his hands to his sides. I raised a brow.
“You know, for someone trying to hide something, you’re doing a terrible job at it,” I said.
“Well, you’re not making it easy!” Erray spat.
“Hey, watch your tone, sir!” I said back, sternly.
Erray flinched at those words. HIs posture suffered as a result.
“Y-Yes, Captain…” Erray mumbled.
I tried to not let my anger get the better of me. Think, Anemy! What’s up with this kid? Then I remembered how he came in earlier.
“Erray,” I began. “Are you being bullied?”
“What?!” Erray sounded shocked to hear that.
“I know I said I wouldn’t pry, but you came in with that handkerchief on your head and now the shades,” I went on. “Is it someone here at Grizzco? Because I swear I’ll-”
“N-No! Captain, it isn’t like that at all!” said Erray. “Thank-you for being concerned, but it’s not that!”
“Then what is it?” I said.
Suddenly, there was the sound of water going down. The tide was going out and the shore could start to be seen. There was no time to waste.
“I’ll deal with you later,” I said. I turned to the rest of the crew. “Assemble by the shore.”
Everyone inked a path with their weapons and to get to the shore faster. The basket was moved below and the crew spread the ink around to get around faster.
So I went up and started setting up the Ink Mines. They were submerged in ink, hidden from sight. Then the cannons appeared.
“Cohock wave!” I announced. “Two take the cannons.” Normally, I’d tried to utilize one, but we had more than four employees out here, so why now? “Keep them off the trap path.”
Erray and Oscar were with me until they took the side routes while I stayed in the middle, securing the traps. I threw a bomb or a shot or so to help the others or to revive anyone who got splatted. I mean it was pretty chill where I was at. Meanwhile it was chaos where the others were… Well, at least they had the cannons. The only things that came my way were a few Chum and some Small Fry.
“Goldies ahoy!” I exclaimed, as three of them came ashore. The other swam towards them to take them down, but it seemed to be a distraction. Not long after splatting them, the Stingers showed up. Trying to shoot them down, I waved to the cannons to aim at them, but I guess they had already been taken out.
So I got the Grizzco Blaster and ran in. Cohocks were in front of me and I was lobbing bombs and shooting like crazy and they were out in seconds. Soon I was getting shot at by Stingers, and the pots they were standing on came down in loud crashes. Then I ran back and revived some of the employees before the next wave of Cohocks got too close.
“Get to the cannons!” I yelled. “Go! Go! Go!”
I swam in my team’s ink to get back to the middle path to defend it. I opened fire, but there were a lot more Cohocks than I thought. Geez, that Grizzco Blaster is an ink eater. With no time to reload, I ran in and tackled the nearest Cohock.
“Gimme that frying pan!” I yelled. I saw the shadow of another one behind me. “Carp!”
Suddenly, Erray came in and used Splashdown on all the Cohocks around us. Once I reloaded I rose up and shot the remaining ones. The rest of the employees took the eggs back to the basket, and the Salmonids stopped coming.
“Captain, are you okay?” said Erray. He ran up as soon as the wave was over. I was so distracted by the mess, I almost didn’t notice until he grabbed my arm.
“Oh. Yeah, I’m okay,” I said. “Retake the turf and secure the area.” I announced it to the rest of the crew.
Everyone went off to do as they were told. I pushed Erray’s hand away and went to take a break.
The others were chatting by the shore and I sat on the ship, watching them. There was the sound of footsteps and there was Char. He had taken off his hat, showing his hair. It was cut mostly to the scalp, except the lines of spiky hair that went down the middle.
“Hey, I thought you might be thirsty, so I saved a soda for you,” he said.
“Oh,” I said. “Noticing it was cherry. Thanks.”
“No problem,” Char said, setting it down next to me. And then he jumped off and swam back to shore in our ink.
I opened the can and took a drink, and stared at everyone below. Some were patrolling and others were chatting. Despite the danger, everyone sounded in a good mood… together… Huh…
It’s lonely at the top… literally… Heh…
Then I saw Erray, staring up at me. He wouldn’t stop, so I just tilted my head to point him towards the lift platform.
“Um, Captain, Erray said, once he met up with me. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I said, after taking another drink from my soda. “Why?”
“I-I… I just thought, you’d like to come down and chat with us,” said Erray.
“Not much of a talker…” I said.
“Well, you seem excited whenever we go out on our shifts.”
“Yeah, but no idle chat wise.”
The kid put his hands behind his back. He looked to the floor with a frown.
“Hey, that doesn’t mean I feel bad about being alone,” I said. “It let’s me appreciate more things.”
“Like what?” said Erray.
“Well, take off those shades and maybe I’ll tell you.”
“Heh…” Erray nervously chuckled.
Suddenly, we were interrupted by the sound of Inklings getting splatted. I turned to the shore, and cod! There it was!
The Salmonoid! It was as big as Goldie, maybe bigger! It’s silver shined in the moonlight and the employees who weren’t splatted made it go on the middle path.
“Erray!” I yelled, pointing towards the shore below. The kid nodded and dove down to help the others.
Charger in hand, I used the other hand to hold a button to detonate the mines. They all went off at the same time, and the Salmonids was engulfed in orange ink.
“YES!” I yelled.
The remaining employees cheered, while the ones who were just floating around the ink in their life preservers jumped around. Then we saw the Salmonid emerge from the explosion. A few dings were on it, but it was still going strong. I got the Grizzco Blaster and jumped into the fray.
I was front and center, firing at the dang thing, but it didn’t seem to be doing much and it was coming right at us. The other employees continued to open fire.
“Captain!” Erray yelled.
Suddenly, he pulled out a Stingray and fired at the Salmonoid. The others did the same and I could see it really slowing down. I grew a smile. They remembered to use their flipping specials. So casted the Blaster aside and used the Stingray, too. Thank cod for its piercing effect!
What was shocking was that I then heard the sound of metal snapping. Our specials wore off and the Salmonids head had broken. Pinkish ink was spewing from it like a wild fountain.
“What the-” was all I could say before it exploded.
I awoke to the others moaning. Metal shrapnel had flown all over the place. Green and pinkish ink was on my skin and uniform. The others looked okay. They were helping each other up. Nothing but metal remained of that Salmonid. I looked around and a figure round a corner led to an underpass beneath the ship.
There was a grunt. Erray had gotten up and started after it… and I noticed his shades had been left behind… in pieces.
I grabbed the Splattershot and followed him. We then came up on a strange grate that was in the space under the ship. It kind of resembles one of those things for carrying tea in.
“Is that… a sewer grate?” I said.
Erray gasped and looked at me and there I saw it. His… His eyes! They were glowing in the dark. He quickly looked back at the grate in question.
“Erray, I saw a figure,” I said. “What do you think it was? Could it have gone this way?”
Erray wouldn’t answer.
“Erray?” I said.
“It doesn’t matter…” he grumbled. He tore into an MRE and he summoned that device one uses when using Splash Down. I had never heard that kid yell so loud before he broke that kettle beyond recognition.
“They’re not coming back!”
Well… This was certainly going in my report...
Chapter 12: the Splatfest Before the Struggle
Marie sighed. She walked over to the cap’n’s desk and handed the maps over. Her heart was sinking and it crashed as she felt the map being snatched from her hand. She refused to look at the perpetrator.
She wanted to scream. She wanted to shout. Wake up from this and make it just a dream.
The barrel of the weapon pressed against the back of her head.
“I’m sorry it’s come to this…” For once it actually sounded sincere.
Marie swallowed hard and closed her eyes. A single tear escaped her right eye.
“Yeah…” Marie whispered. “Me too.”
I was a mess. I was in my room - Agent 3’s room - speechless. Carp! I really messed up. The fuschia ink and that Octarian kettle. I just… reacted! After the shift ended, I ran out of there as fast as I could. Why did I let her see my eyes in the dark? Why did I decide to do that stupid night mission?! She couldn’t know! No one could know!
I don't know how I got to sleep last night. The Octarian kettle made me wonder about informing Marie and Cap’n Cuttlefish. I didn’t think Anemy was going to follow me back there. So, I sat around, wondering what I should do before my next shift. Should I even go to my next shift?
No! I thought. No more running! I had to talk to the captain about this before my next shift.
Marie said she wanted to introduce me to an ally of the New Squidbeak Splatoon who could help us out. All I had to do was wait for her to get back from recording this new show she’s been working on.
When I got back last night, the cap’n said that Marie got me a present for deciding to help them out. So, when I got to Agent 3’s room, I found a new phone. As much as it’s so fresh that I’m basically becoming friends with a celebrity - Well, I’d like to think of it as such - I’m finding it hard to trust her. They still haven’t told me the plan to rescue Callie yet, and not a word of what happened to Agent 3. Well, at least my head was fully healed.
Anyway, I got the TV working in the room and Off the Hook was doing a broadcast.
“I’m so excited for the Splatfest, Pearlie!” Marina said, cheerfully.
“Oh, right!” said Pearl. “We’re gonna krill it on stage tonight! So, bring your friends… if they’re on the same team as yours, though.”
“Pearl, it shouldn’t matter what team you’re on!” said Marina. “We’re just supposed to have fun!”
“Competitively!” said Pearl.
“Okay…” Marina said, shyly. “Um, in other news, here’s an update on the Callie situation. Super popstar Marie was interviewed about this problem and she was really torn up about it. She said Callie left to go live on a talk show and that was the last time she saw her.”
“Look, Callie, I don't know where you are or whatever, but I hope you can see tonight’s Splatfest,” said Pearl.
“Well, against Pearl’s judgement, I did set up a search party,” Marina said, while Pearl leaned back in her chair, glaring. “I know a lot of people are worried about our super popstar, but we’re going to start searching tomorrow. Who knows?! Maybe if we play our hearts out tonight, Callie will hear it.”
“Yeah, yeah. That was beautiful, Marina. In other news…”
“Um, Pearl, that's all the news we had…” said Marina. “You said that last time, too, and we were also out of news.”
“Uhhh… whatever!” said Pearl. She stood from her seat. “Until tonight…”
“Don’t get cooked… Stay off the hook!” they said, doing their signature pose.
Just as their broadcast ended, I heard a knock on the door.
“It’s open!” I said.
“I’m back,” Marie said, as she opened the door.
“Oh. Hey,” I said. “I was just watching stuff.”
I grabbed the remote and switched off the TV. Mentioning Callie probably wouldn’t do much good.
“Just an Off the Hook broadcast,” I answered. “They were talking about the Splatfest tonight.”
“Oh, well, I assume you’re going tonight?” said Marie.
“What? No. I thought we had to focus on finding Callie.”
“Well, gramps and I have been scouting in the Octarian domes, but we still don’t have any clear leads. He’s been writing clues on all these maps and stuff in his room. Until then, the Splatfest could be good training for you.”
“Well, I guess you have a point,” I said.
“But, I expect you to come back at a certain time.”
“Well,” Marie said, tightly gripping the handle of her parasol. “I know gramps told me to, but I still don’t trust you yet.”
Likewise… I thought.
“Well, that notebook I saw this morning suggested as much…” I said.
“What… notebook?” Marie said, squinting.
“The one labeled ‘Agent 4’s Factopedia’? Ring any bells?”
“Hey, that was supposed to be classified!”
“Well, it’s not really classified if you write in it out in the open during breakfast.”
“Look, do you want new weapons or not?!” Marie shouted.
I flinched at her outburst. It was weird to see the usually chill Squid Sister this angry.
“Sorry about Agent 2,” Callie had said. “My cousin has been pretty bitter since Agent 3 left.”
“S-Sure,” I said.
Marie sighed and brushed her bangs up a little.
“Fine,” she said. “Let’s go, and wear your facemask.”
I put on a sweater that was like the white one I had, but it was black. The facemask was on like Marie requested and we went out. She told me we were going to Ammo Knights, but we went to the one at Inkopolis Plaza.
Generally, there were still a few Inklings and other creatures around, but there weren’t as many as Marie told me there was back in the day.
“Why didn’t we just go to the one in the square?” I said.
“Because there’s less people here,” said Marie.
When we approached the door, Marie looked both ways before we went inside. It was a store to buy ink weapons from.
The walls were gray and so was the floor. It was also a bit dirty. Some ink weapons were on display on a metal rack in the back and some were below it in protective glass. Ink tanks were off to the side and there was a small table on the other side where a weapon was there that looked partially on the way of being repaired or modified. Light fixtures hung down from the roof with a gentle yellow light illuminating the room. While a few Inklings were around, browsing, and I followed Marie to the desk.
“Sheldon?” Marie said, trying not to get too loud. “Sheldon are you there?” She tried not to get too loud. She tried not to flinch when a horseshoe crab popped up from below the desk. He wore a military shirt with a red scarf and belt. A pair of binoculars was strapped onto his head over his eyes and his shell was resting on his head, making it look like a helmet.
“Hello, hello. Welcome to Ammo Knights!” he said, happily. “How can I help you?”
“Sheldon, it’s me,” Marie whispered.
“Oh! I see. Right this way!”
Sheldon stepped away from the counter and Marie signaled for me to follow. The shop owner opened a door in the back and we followed him inside.
It seemed to be a small office. A lot of schematics and parts of Ink weapons and bombs were lying around. A whole case of tools were scattered across some tables in the back. Only one light bulb was keeping the room lit and the only window in there had curtains over it.
“Sheldon, this is Erray,” said Marie, “but out on the field, he’ll be known as Agent 4.”
“Oh, this is so cool!” Sheldon said, excitedly, trying not to jump. “A-hem!” He grabbed one of my hands with both of his and shook it. “Pleased to meet you, Agent 4. I’m Sheldon from Ammo Knights, as you can already tell. This is the one of the only shops in Inkopolis with over 542 million years of trusted service.”
“Well, that’s… a lot of years…” I said.
“That’s right!” Sheldon responded excitedly. “Marie told me everything over the radio. To think that my signature weapons can be of help to the New Squidbeak Splatoon. I’m honored!”
“We’re looking to arm our new recruit with some new weapons to use out on the field,” said Marie.
“I-I thought the Splattershot I had was fine,” I said.
“Perhaps,” said Sheldon. “But most of the weapons you will find in the shops have been modded for Ink Battles. They make them have drawbacks to avoid unfairness and keep safety. And the Octarians out there don’t care about safety. So what I’ll do is make custom weapons, modded for more firepower to show those Octarians who’s boss. I guess I could start by making a new Hero-shot, since Agent 3 ran off with the last one.”
“Okay,” said Marie. “I think Agent 4 gets it. So, Erray, have you been interested in other weapons?”
“Well, back home, I was taught starting off with a Splattershot Jr.,” I said. “My sisters eventually took interest in other weapon classes, but I just stuck with standard shooters.”
“Well, if you’re gonna be an agent, Erray, your weapons skill need some variety,” said Marie. “Sheldon. Why don’t you show him one of the new weapons classes?”
“Wait, there’s new ones now?” I said.
“Of course!” Sheldon said, excitedly. “I think I may have something that may catch your interest.”
Sheldon walked over to a shelf and carried a box to the desk. Once the lid was off I saw a set of small shooter weapons. Small tanks were on the bottoms connecting to the rest of the barrel, with a green, pink and black color scheme.
“Kind of small, huh?” I said, peeking into the box.
“They’re new weapons to Turf War,” said Sheldon. “They’re called Splat Dualies.”
“Dualies?” I said. I did notice there were two of them. “So, you hold both of them?”
“Yes, you carry one in each hand,” said Sheldon. “Their propulsive exhaust nozzles allow you to perform high speed dodge rolls! In ink battles you’re allowed to use Burst Bombs and you can hit far off opponents with Tenta Missiles.”
I grabbed the Dualies, holding one in each hand like Sheldon instructed.
“So, these must be rapid fire, huh?” I said, pointing it around. Marie backed away.
“Hey, watch where you point that thing!” said Marie.
“Don’t worry, Marie,” said Sheldon. “It’s empty.”
I twirled one around in my hand.
“Cool,” I said.
“Well, you’re certainly getting the hang of holding them already,” said Marie. “So, ya want it?”
“Yeah!” I said. “Ah!” The Dualie I was twirling slipped and fell on the floor. “Okay, maybe I need a little more practice.”
“Well, that’ll be 2,400 coins!” said Sheldon.
“Wait, what?!” I said.
“I can’t let you treat my shop like an all-you-can-ink buffet! I still have a business to run.”
“Okay…” I said. I still thought it was a bit weird since I’m trying to protect Inkopolis. “I think I have…”
“Erray, relax,” said Marie. “I’ve got you.”
“Wait, really?” I said.
“Just this once.” Marie reached into her purse and pulled out a card.
“That’s very nice of you, Marie,” said Sheldon. “Let me ring you up.”
Sheldon let us back outside. He went behind the counter, took Marie’s card and swiped it on the machine. After that, he handed the Dualies to me.
“Enjoy, Erray,” said Sheldon. “I know you’ll give them a good home.”
Marie took her card back. Then her phone rang.
“What is it?” I said.
“Hang on.” Marie pulled out her phone and answered it. I half-expected that it was green. “Hello? Yeah, I’m in the area. Right now? Alright, alright. I’m coming.” And she hung up.
“What was that?” I said.
“My agent,” said Marie. “Called me in to film something. Apparently, some people need to leave early or something. It’s probably about the Splatfest tonight.”
“The Splatfest Pledge Box should be in the square,” Marie went on. “Just make sure you’re not followed. I will text you when I need you to come back.”
“Okay. Thanks, Sheldon!”
“Come back anytime!” he said, waving happily.
Marie and I parted ways once we were outside of the shop. I began to head to the square, when I saw Bass coming out of some back alley. He then walked over to Inkopolis Tower and just stood there.
I also saw he had a new outfit. He wore a black jacket with a yellow stripe going down the middle. He had sneakers that were gray with red laces and a beanie.
“Bass?” I said.
Bass gasped when he saw me.
“Oh, right.” I moved the mask off my face. “It’s me, Erray.”
“Oh…” he said, taking off his beanie. “I was hoping I’d see you again.”
“Well, Angel and I are trying to get four people for the Splatfest tonight. You want in? We’re going on Team Ketchup.”
“Actually, I was going to head over to pick a side,” I said. “Sure.”
“Great!” said Bass. “We still need one more person. So if you find anyone, let us know.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Sure thing,” said Bass. “I’ll see you at the square tonight.”
I thought to get this out of the way before the Splatfest tonight. So, I made my way to Grizzco, but I basically stood outside the whole time, trying to find the guts to go in.
Oscar then came out about twenty minutes later.
“Sir, security’s complaining about… Oh, it’s you, Erray.” He perked up, showing a little smile.
I crossed my arms, regaining a good posture.
“Oscar,” was all I said.
“The captain wanted to speak with you before your next shift,” said Oscar, “but since you’re here, why don’t you talk to her now?”
“...Sure,” I said. “I sounded flat, but my heart was pounding.
“Okay,” said Oscar.
Oscar led me inside and to the door to the captain’s quarters. He knocked on the door and the intercom came on.
“Speak,” said a voice.
“Captain, Erray wants to talk to you,” said Oscar.
“Trow?” said Anemy. “He doesn’t have a shift today.”
“Wait, wait… I was gonna talk to him, anyway. Better get it out of the way. Send him in.”
“Go ahead,” said Oscar.
“Thanks,” I said, before waving him off.
Once I was in the room, I found Anemy by her desk. A set of cards were laid out on it.
“Um… hey,” I said.
“Erray,” Anemy said, laying a card down. It looked like she was playing solitaire.
I walked up as close as I felt safe going.
“You realize I had to put what happened last night into my report?” said Anemy.
“I know,” I said. “I-”
“Did I say you could destroy it?!” Anemy yelled.
“Anemy, I can explain!” I said.
Anemy’s glare grew deeper.
“Ugh! I can explain, Captain,” I said. Her glare softened a little after that. “L-Look! It was coming right at me and I got really scared.” I hugged myself trying not to spill my guts about the truth. “I was already flustered because you saw my-”
“Eyes,” Anemy finished.
I lowered my arms. Anemy didn’t seem so mad anymore.
“So, is that like a mutation, or what?” she said.
My hand moved over my left shoulder.
“Yes, you… could say that,” I said.
“Hey, if that was the case, you should’ve just said so,” said Anemy. “In all fairness, though, that Salmonid was looking to splat all of us, Trow.” She let out a sigh before putting the cards down.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” I said.
“Well, as much as I would’ve liked to know what thing was, Mr. Grizz is just happy that it’s gone.”
“So… I’m not in trouble?”
“I guess I’ll let this slide with a warning…” Anemy said, rolling her eyes.
I sighed in relief.
“Thank-you, Captain,” I said.
“So like, is there anything else you need?” said Anemy.
I thought about leaving after that. Then the thing Bass wanted surfaced.
“Um, how about I make it up to you?” I said.
Anemy leaned back in her chair.
“Go on…” she said.
“Well, I met a fellow squid and I think we’re starting to become friends,” I said. “He’s looking for someone for tonight’s Splatfest.”
Anemy leaned forward, putting an elbow on the desk and the hand it belonged to on the side of her face.
“Uh, how do I say this…?” she began. “I… don’t have a lot of experience… battling at Deca Tower. That’s what it's called, right?”
“Yeah, yeah! You’re not wrong,” I said. “I just thought maybe you’d like change from fighting Salmonids.”
“Hey, there’s more to do at Grizzco than just fighting Salmonids.”
“Uhhh, it’s classified for legal reasons. So shut your mouth!”
“Yes, Captain!” I said, sitting up.
“On the other hand, it might be fun to try and understand the mind of a fellow Cephalopod as an opponent for a change.”
Anemy tapped her fingers on the desk and then nodded.
“Okay. I’ll accept your offer. I’ll see what I can get that I can use for clothes at the Splatfest.”
“Um, it’s called gear,” I said.
“Riiight…” said Anemy.
“Don’t worry about a shirt,” I said. “They’ll be complementary there. Just bring headwear and shoes.”
Anemy pulled out her phone.
“Yeah, I’m texting Grizz right now… So, meet at the square tonight?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m picking Team Ketchup.”
“As am I…” Anemy continued to look at her phone. “Okay, Grizz said it’s fine.”
“Yes!” I jumped. “I’ll see you in a few hours!”
I began to head towards the door.
“And Erray?” said Anemy.
I looked back.
“If there’s anything, you want to tell me… you know where I am…” said Anemy.
“Yeah…” I said.
The square was unbelievable tonight. A stage had been set up for the performance. Inklings and other fresh creatures had come out for tonight. Lights were shining upward towards the sky, showing the giant Zapfish that powered the tower and the rest of the town.
Bass told me to meet him by the window where we can see those girls from Off the Hook. They weren’t actually in there right now. The performance had yet to start, but the people in the Square were already getting antsy. I had already gotten a Splatfest shirt and it wasn’t long before Bass came along.
“Hey! You made it!” said Bass.
“Of course!” I said, excitedly. “This is my first Splatfest! I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Oh, I also found someone who wants to join us. She usually works at the Grizzco, so her skill at Deca Tower may be shaky.”
“That’s fine,” said Bass. “Let’s go get Angel and we can meet this friend of yours.”
“Okay. Where is she?”
“Probably in there…” Bass said, pointing at the studio.
“She works there?!”
“As a stagehand,” said Bass.
“Here we go, Marina!” a voice said, excitedly.
The crew began to come out carrying equipment. Among the people of various shapes and sizes was Angel with those girls from that duo, Off the Hook.
“Angel, over here!” Bass yelled.
Angel held out her hand to wait a bit. She had a box of equipment, so she probably had to help set up, and she went on stage. The singers saw us and waved.
“Aren’t those the singers on TV?” I said.
“Yeah, Off the Hook,” Bass said, as the two went on stage. “That’s Pearl, the Inkling and the Octoling is Marina. And they’re rappers, not singers.”
Bass and I turned to the rest of the plaza. It looked like they had noticed the final touch ups before starting.
“Off the Hook!” they chanted. “Off the Hook!” The audience started cheering once the lights came on and the two girls were on stage.
“Y’all feeling fresh out there?” said Pearl.
“We’re Off the Hook! Coming at you LIVE from the middle of Inkopolis Square!” said Marina.
The screen above them turned on, showing the designs of the two sides.
“Which is the better condiment: mayo or ketchup?” said Pearl.
“Head over to the Splatfest terminal and pick a side!” said Marina.
The screen showed a picture of a place called Moray Towers.
“There’s something magical about Moray Towers at night,” said Pearl.
“You know what else is magical?” said Marina. “Winning instead of staring at a parking garage.”
The second one was Sturgeon Shipyard.
“The night sky makes me want to sing!” Pearl exclaimed. “WOOOOOOOOOOO!”
“Pearl! Save it for our next concert!” said Marina. “We made a special stage for tonight’s Splatfest.”
There was no picture for this, but it said “Shifty Station”.
“You helped make a stage, Marina?” said Pearl. “That’s amazing!” She turned back to someone who looked like the producer. “Oh, right! And, uh… Grizzco Industries is now hiring. Anyone of any age or background is allowed to join. Apply now!”
“Let’s do Salmon Run shift later, Pearl,” said Marina.
“Until next time…”
“Don’t get cooked… Stay off the hook!” they said. And the crowd cheered as they struck a pose.
Music amped up and “Off the Hook” started dancing and singing on stage. Some people were heading into the tower and some were dancing along and letting loose.
I began to smile. I have dreamed of these Splatfests and now I was finally here, living it!
“Bass…” said a voice.
Angel had finally come back down from the stage. She had her Splatfest t-shirt on and she wore a skirt with shorts underneath. Her ink color had already changed to red like the rest of us.
“Angel, you remember Erray, right?” said Bass.
“Oh. Right,” said Angel. “I can’t believe you took the fall for the fight Bass was in!”
“Well, it was the least I could do,” I said.
“Well still, thank-you,” said Angel. “So did you manage to find anyone since Vichay bailed.”
“Uh… Vi… chay?” I said.
“My roommate,” said Angel. “Why?”
“Uhhh… Why did she bail?”
“We’re not sure,” said Bass.
“Yeah, she’s been acting really strange lately,” said Angel. “She’s been going out at night and telling anyone where.”
“Oh…” I said.
“Yeah, we’re trying to figure it out,” said Bass. “You can meet her after the Splatfest, I guess.”
“Um… yeah…” I said, trying not to sound nervous.
“So, who did you get to join us?” said Bass.
“My boss,” I said. “She’s kind of a pain, but she should be here soon.”
Past the two I saw someone waving. They looked like they were from the direction of Grizzco.
“That must be her!” I said, running over. It was a bit weird to see my captain outside of work. She had a welding mask and her boots were also Grizzco issued. I think they were called “Angry Rain Boots”. She already had her Splatfest shirt on. Through the dark, but transparent enough window on the mask, I could see her blue eyes.
“Sorry, this was all I could find on short notice,” said Anemy.
“Oh, it’s fine,” I said, reassuringly. “So, guys. This is…”
I turned back to Bass and Angel. They were covering their noses.
“What?” I said.
“Um… no offense, but… do you smell that?” said Angel.
I looked back at Anemy, and began to notice that same smell that was at Grizzco. I was used to it by now, but I guess Bass and Angel weren’t since they didn’t work there.
“Whoops! Guess the smell is still in my clothes…” said Anemy. “You guys just… go in and I’ll stay at a ten foot radius.”
“Good plan!” said Bass.
Anemy shrugged as Bass and Angel went ahead, and then we went in together.
The first place we battled was at Moray Towers. It was, as the name would suggest, high up. The regular path would zig-zag downward to a large center area. In fact, the entire arena was connected on the tops of towers. Bass had a Blaster, Angel had her Splatbrella, Anemy brought a charger and I had my Dualies.
“Whoa! High up!” said Anemy. She waved her arms around trying to keep her balance.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “You’re completely safe.”
Our ink color was red while the opposing team was a very bright yellow. It was almost white. Once the buzzer went off, Anemy charged ahead, diving down towards the center. Bass dove down, too, but stayed a level above Anemy. Angel left a sprinkler to cover turf beneath the Spawn Point, before going off to ink more turf.
I dove down after Anemy to check on her. She was by the middle area on a ledge. Inklings on the opposite team were trying to ink the turf there. A lot of turf wasn’t covered where she was, so I decided to help her with that.
“What are you doing?” I said.
“Well, this guy needs to ketchup on his skills!” Anemy said. She cackled, as she splatted an Inkling from afar.
“Um, Captain?” I said.
An Inkling to our left turned on the Ink Line and was coming up towards us.
“Ha ha! Ya silly kid!” Anemy said, sinisterly. She threw a Splat Bomb and it splatted the opponent before he landed. “YES! Are we winning?!”
“Um, great defense,” I said. “But the point of the game is to get the most turf, not just splat people.”
“Ohhh…” said Anemy. “Oops.”
“Hyah!” Anemy yelled from afar. A ink cloud appeared from above and began raining down red ink. Bars threw toxic mist to block out our opponents escape.
The Inklings that did make a hasty retreat were no match for the Tenta Missiles I sent out towards them. Well, it didn’t splat any of them, but it was enough damage for Bass to finish them without a direct hit.
It wasn’t long before the whistle went off at the end of the match. We won by a knockout! Okay, by 68.47% of turf covered. Once we were back in the lobby, we began to wait for the next match.
“Salmon Girl did great,” said Bass.
Anemy was standing across the room.
“He said you did great!” I yelled back.
“So, another round?” said Bass.
“Yes!” I cheered.
about you?” bass turned to Anemy who nodded in agreement. “Angel?”
Angel was staring at one of the TVs. It was showing a live broadcast of Off the Hook performing.
“Angel?” I said.
“Huh?” Angel said, turning away from the screen. “Um.. yeah. Sorry. I was distracted.” She stood up and grabbed her Splatbrella. “Let’s go.”
For our next match, we were to go to the infamous Shifty Station. Once we were clear, we went through the grates.
When we ended up at the Spawn Point, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Oct… Oct… We were in Octarian territory! I recognized those screens anywhere. The billboards and streamers of lights did help. This was Octarian territory!
I struggled to keep my hands steady. Why were these squids happy? I thought, as I observed them.
My entire body jolted at the sound of the buzzer going off. Bass, Angel and Anemy got a head start without me.
“You okay?” said Anemy.
“I’m fine! I’m fine!” I said. “Let’s go!”
So, this place was pretty standard. The side areas, however, were rigged to move to and fro from the center. When they were outward, the only way to enemy territory through the middle ramp.
Keep calm, I thought. No one but you knows what’s been going on. I continued to ink turf and slowly made my way towards the center.
It wasn’t long before I encountered an enemy. Once she started shooting me with her Splooh-o-matic. So, I used a dodge roo and it worked like a charm. The shots just barely grazed me and I threw some Splat Bombs to send her running… before I shot her down.
“Erray, we need a little help!” Bass called from our intercom. I saw the Splashdown and ran towards the center of the arena.
The platforms moved before I could get there, leaving a huge gap between Bass, Angel and myself. Angel was faced with another Blaster wielder. Her umbrella unfolded, but it wouldn't be long before it broke. Seeing no other option, I super jumped to her side… only to get splatted instead.
When I returned to the Spawn Point I heard a scream. Suddenly, the buzzer went off early. So, I ran back to investigate.
Judd and Lil’ Judd were already on the scene. Angel was standing in the same spot with her hands over her mouth. Bass and Anemy were on a ledge and the Inkling who was attacking her, was on the ground, holding his nose, with his teammates behind him. Ink was running down through his hands.
“She bashed me with her brella!” He winced at the pain.
“Mew?” Lil’ Judd looked over at Judd.
“Sorry, I’ve gotta give the match to Team Mayo for this one,” said Judd.
“Yeah. That’s fine…” said Bass. “Angel, what were you thinking?!”
Angel said nothing. She turned away and started running.
“Angel, wait!” I said.
I ran after her and was led back to the lobby, where I saw her exit the tower. She took a right, leading to the studio.
The inside appeared to be empty, but I could still hear the music playing in the square. I was led outside through a back door to some kind of warehouse district.
“Angel?” I said.
I looked around and saw her turn a corner, so I pursued. SHe led me to a warehouse that said “D-2” on it. The door wasn’t that hard to open, but pushed it aside to keep quiet.
I couldn’t believe my eyes once I was inside. A bunch of things like Splatfest items were in there. Logos, billboards and posters of the Squid Sisters were in there on the walls and in stacks. Angel had fallen onto her knees in the middle of it. Thank goodness the lights were on in here.
“Angel,” I said.
“I told him… I couldn’t do this…” Angel mumbled. I heard her cover her mouth as she began to weep.
“Angel, what’s wrong?” I said.
“Why wouldn’t he just listen?!”
I walked closer and Angel tried to regain her composure.
“Sorry, I was talking about Bass… I didn’t actually want to come out tonight… but he wouldn’t listen…”
“Why not?” I said.
Angel lowered her hands, hugging herself.
“You saw what I did to that poor boy…”
Angel began to cry.
“You should go…” she said in between sobs.
I got on my knees and removed my facemask.
“Angel, I want to help…” I said.
“Well, I don’t have a lot of friends here, yet,” I said. “But… even though I don’t know you well, I want to know what’s wrong so I can help.”
“I just… I…” Angel trembled, struggling to sit up. I put a hand on her shoulder and she threw herself at me, embracing me. “I haven’t been the same since…” Her crying only became louder.
“Angel, since what?” I said.
“If I tell you, you won’t believe me…” she cried. Red, transparent tears continued to run down from her eyes. Well, good thing this t-shirt was red.
“Well, at least if you tell me… you might feel better,” I said.
Angel nodded. She broke away and raised her head to look at me, wiping the tears from her eyes.
“The Squid Sisters ruined my life…”
My heart skipped a beat.
“Angel!” said a voice.
Bass came in. As soon as she did, Angel stood onto her feet.
“What are you doing here?” said Bass.
“I told you I didn’t want to do this,” Angel said, as she stormed over to him. She was right in his face, making him lean back a little.
“You wouldn’t stop trying to persuade me! I’m NOT ready!”
“NO!” Angel yelled, pushing Bass to the ground.
“Whoa!” I quickly got on my feet. “Angel!”
Tears came down from Angel’s eyes.
“You shouldn’t have come back…” she said to Bass. And she ran off. He held out his hand, but she was already out of reach.
“Bass?” I said.
Bass wiped his eyes. What the heck was going on.
“I’m sorry…” he said. “You… You should go…”
I said nothing else. I walked away, leaving Bass alone.
I made it back to the square and found Anemy at Crusty Sean’s. She got a Seanwich and sat herself at a table.
“Oh. there you are,” she said. She took off her welding mask and set it on the table. “Everyone just left so I got myself some food. Want some?”
“No…” I said. And I took a seat across from her. “Bass and Angel had a fight, so they’re done for tonight. Sorry…”
“Well, I had fun,” Anemy said. She finish her Seanwich in a few bites. “Apology accepted. I know we’re not supposed to pay you, but… here!”
Anemy reached into her pocket and passed me some tickets to Crusty Sean’s food truck. She then stood up and patted my shoulder.
“You know, you’re alright, Erray,” she said. She picked up her welding mask. “Well, I guess I’ll see you at Grizzco.”
“Bye,” I said.
I thought about going back, but I couldn’t get my mind off what happened. So, I bought some food from Sean and just watched Off the Hook. I’ve had my doubts about Marie and now… I don’t know what to think…
Suddenly, my phone started going off, so I answered it.
“Uh, hello?” I said.
“Agent 4! You need to get back!” It sounded like Cap’n Cuttlefish. “Someone broke into the house!”
“I’ll be right there!” I said.
I ran back to the house as fast as I could. Once I got there, I found that the door was still open. It didn’t look busted, though. There was no ink on the floors and I checked carefully before pressing forward.
“Cap’n?” I said.
“Erray! In here!” said a voice.
I ran over to the cap’n’s room. What I saw was a mess of maps and papers on the floor and Marie lying unconscious in the cap’n’s arms.
Chapter 13: Callie's Conflict
“What’s this? Where mah beats?!”
“Agent 3! Can you hear our song?”
“Radio override activated!”
“That heavenly melody... It’s the one and only Squid Sisters!”
The notes of that classic hit song rang in my head. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt very reminiscent at the moment. I’ve been feeling like that for a while...
A harsh smack hit me across the face. I woke up screaming, struggling to open my eyes. My vision was blurred, but the room was mostly dark. Only a single light was illuminating the room. Someone was standing right in front of me.
“Marie?” I said, weakly. The laughing that came after I said that, probably meant a no. I tried to focus on who it was. It was Octoling, who wore a black jacket and pants. Her boots had fuschia edging that glowed in the dark. Two locks of her hair hung on the sides of her head and the rest was tied back in a ponytail.
Immediately, I lunged forward, only to find I was tied to a chair.
“Don’t bother,” the Octoling said. “The cords are covered in ink. We would have been happy to take back our little Squid who slipped away.” She leaned and I could see her red eyes, making me squirm. “But once we realized you were a Squid Sister, we had a better idea.”
“Why didn’t you just take the both of us?” I said.
“Because your house is too small for a massive team!” said the Octoling. “But don’t worry! We’ll come back for him soon enough.”
“What do you want with Erray?!” I shouted.
“Last time I checked, I was the one asking the questions!” the Octoling yelled back. “And that is none of your concern!” The Octoling turned to the one-way glass door behind her. “As we speak, we’re heading to our HQ. So get comfy. Our DJ has big plans for you…”
“Yeah, I’m sure he does…” I said. “What is it? Bait, like the cap’n?”
“For who?” said the Octoling. “Isn’t Agent 3-”
“SHUT UP!” I shouted.
“-not around to help you?” she finished. I didn’t dare give a response on that. “That’s what I thought. My name’s Jade. Hope to see you again. Maybe I can get your autograph?”
“Whatever. I’ll get it… one way or another…”
Jade left me alone. I quickly looked around, trying to think of anything I could use to escape. Everytime I moved, though, the ink continued to sting my skin and I couldn't find the knot that tied it. I could feel this room moving, so I knew she wasn’t lying that we were moving. Maybe we were on some sort of train?
Marie will come and get me! I thought. She has to! Until then, I would have to find my own way out. Or at least try.
Suddenly, the door opened again and the next Octarian that came in was Octavio.
“Aw, shell…” I said.
“Yeah, nice to see you, too,” he said. “I guess Jade filled you in on the ink.”
“What do you want?!”
“For you to behave. You wouldn’t want to miss one of my best remixes yet.”
I formed a glare.
“I think if I heard any of your ‘sick beats’ I’d actually get sick!” I said.
Octavio’s usual glare grew deeper when I said that.
“I had to sit through one of your shows!” he yelled. “Now it’s your turn to attend one of mine!”
Whatever we were in, suddenly came to a stop.
“Let’s go,” he said. He headed out the door and Jade, with another Octoling untied my torso and legs, but kept my hands tied behind my back, pulling me along with them. Once we were out of the transport train, I saw the dome screens above me, showing a night sky. We were heading towards a large facility ahead. If I slowed down for even a second, Jade would push me forward.
“Callie,” said Octavio.
“What?!” I said, as flat as possible.
“...How are things with Marie?”
“Why the shell would you care?!”
“Gyah ha ha! My soldiers have filled me in on what’s been happening.”
“Your cousin appears to be the better Squid Sister…”
“That's not what your Splatfest said!”
“Shut up! What are you getting at!”
“I’ll tell you once we’re there.”
I growled, continuing to try and break free, but the conflicting ink was just too painful. The facility was huge, but I could tell we were high up. A lot of Octavio’s secret bases were like these to keep this a secret and some of the domes were off limits to the public. There had to be some way out.
As we got closer, I started thinking about Marie again. Why did our last words to each other have to be of us fighting? I thought. I should’ve apologized. I-
Suddenly, I heard Octavio scream as if he was in pain. An Octoling that was next to me was shot. Octolings rushed in front of the DJ to defend him. A figure was in the distance and when the Octolings tried to counter attack a Splash Wall blocked their shot.
I tried to run away, but I tripped. So, I could only watch what was happening. Whoever was there, fired several more shots at the Octolings. They looked like charger shots.
“Marie?” I said, craning my head up a little.
When the remaining Octolings got close, the charger was set aside for a shooter. The figure dodge and then grabbed it, knocking off the edge, skillfully. Then they threw one of them to the ground, before they were grabbed and thrown as well.
“Get up!” I yelled. “You have to win!”
The figure scooted back as the Octoling closed in, but just before the Octoling could deliver the blow. A ink mine went off, splatting it instantly.
Wait. One ink mine doesn’t splat an opponent anymore, I thought. They should only take damage and alert the user to their presence. Was that the older model?
The figure stood up, grabbing their right hand as they stumbled. They walked over and I saw a knife! It was covered in ink. Maybe it was a new ink weapon. I struggled to break free, but nothing was working. Tears formed in my eyes as the figure got closer.
I opened my eyes and saw that figure didn’t go for me, but for DJ Octavio instead. Only, when I checked, he was gone. The figure was standing where he was, with that knife still out.
“Well, Octavio, you may have escaped me this time… but I will get you!”
Wait… It couldn’t be.
I didn’t recognize anything about this person. I didn’t recognize the hoodie, the facemask, the beanie, the gray sweater, the black pants or even the black boots, But I did remember that glowing headset and those… piercing orange eyes.
“Agent… 3?” I said.
There were no words. Agent 3 walked over with the knife still out.
“Ah! I know we’ve had our differences, but-” I closed my eyes tightly, but then the ropes on my hands were cut. Finally freed, I stood up. My wrists were really sore from the ink.
“Agent-” I was stopped in my talking when I met the gun end of the Hero-shot. I was relieved to see it, since I hadn’t seen it in so long, but obviously, I was still scared at what could happen next. At least Agent 3 had taken really good care of it.
“This changes nothing!” The shout carried an echo. “Where is Octavio?! I would’ve gotten him, but you ruined my shot! What are you doing here?!”
“I got captured…” I answered quickly. I felt so vulnerable without a weapon out here. “They knew where we were because they followed followed that-”
“Squid you saved?”
“You were listening!” I exclaimed. The deeper glare I was given signaled me to shut up. “Um… yeah.”
Agent 3 stood on the bridge edge and then pointed south.
“There’s a kettle that way. It should take you back to the surface. Get moving before the Octolings respawn. Too bad I missed the only one that wasn’t linked to Spawn Point.”
“W-Wait!” I said.
Agent 3 jumped off the ledge. I ran over immediately.
“Agent 3!” I yelled.
I only saw a bus-like lift on the rail and on the roof of it was Agent 3. We had been looking for so long and now our target was right in front of me. What could I do unarmed? Not much, duh! But maybe that was exactly what I needed. I jumped off and landed on the bus lift as well.
“What are you doing?!” Agent 3 yelled.
I stood up on the roof, holding my arms out to try and balance with the swaying. When the Hero-shot was pointed at me again I almost fell.
“I can’t let you get away!” I said. Agent 3 said nothing, so I just kept talking. “I know you’re upset, but what you’re doing is wrong! This isn’t what you or any of us wanted.” Already, tears were filling my eyes. I held out my hand. “Come back with me. At least we can help you if we’re all together.” I reached out my hand. “Please…”
Agent 3 looked around. Then the orange eyes narrowed.
“You sound just like your grandfather… You should’ve gone back to your cousin! I gave you the opportunity to leave!”
“I can’t leave without you!” I said. “We need you.”
“You’ve gotten on fine without me… Your hit songs and success says it all.”
“You’ve got it all wrong!” My vision was blurred by the gathering tears.. “We’ve been miserable without you!”
“Really? Because Marie wanted me to come back… but it sounded like an order.”
“What?” I said, wiping my eyes.
“That’s what I am to you, isn’t it?” Agent 3’s voice grew more and more aggressive. “Just a weapon! I’m just a GAME you play to get what you want!” I saw the finger beginning to press the trigger. So, I ducked under the shot that came from it and tackled Agent 3, making the Hero-shot fall near by. We struggled, throwing punches and kicks until I took a forehead to my forehead and was knocked onto my back. Before Agent 3 could get to the Hero-shot I jumped from behind holding on with all my might and we fell off the bus.
With the Hero-shot firmly in Agent 3’s grasp, a few Burst Bombs were thrown at me. I held out my hand, but that only resulted in conflicting ink burning my hands. Already, multiple specks of ink were in the air, but I didn’t remember the Hero-shot being fired while we fell. More was thrown at me and I could only remember screaming as more conflicting ink hit me. Then I was grabbed by the arm and thrown down to the roof an Octarian building. I cried out as I tumbled across the surface and almost fell off the edge, but managed to grab on with my hands.
Agent 3 stood over me as I clung for dear life.
“H-Help…” I whispered. “Please…”
“I helped you escape Octavio, because you saved me before,” Agent 3 responded. “I now see that doing it again would only be a mistake.”
My eyes began to water. Agent 3’s sharp orange eyes, narrowed as the weapon was lowered.
“You’ll never change. You’re just like your grandfather… You’re just like Marie…” Agent 3 turned and walked away.
“Agent 3!” I pleaded. “P-Please! Come back! Come back!” I started to cry. “DON’T LEAVE ME!”
Someone suddenly grabbed my wrist and pulled me up onto the roof’s surface. At first, I was relieved, but then weapons were in my face and I saw it was the Octarians.
“Such a shame, really?” said Jade. “Maybe you should’ve listened to your friend, there. If you had, you’d be back home by now, huh?”
I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it, but it was true! Marie wasn’t around, and Agent 3… abandoned me. It didn’t matter what those Octarians thought. I started to cry. I didn’t care what happened to me anymore.
Gramps, Marie and I… We created a monster...
Chapter 14: Lows and Below
Marie was out cold on the floor. The cap’n held her head gently.
“I’m not sure!” said the cap’n. “I came and just found her like this. She has a pretty bad bump, but she should be okay.”
“H-Here,” I said, kneeling down. “I’ll carry her to her bedroom.”
“Thank-you,” said the cap’n.
I gathered Marie in my arms and lifted her off the ground. The cap’n followed me out of his room and into Marie’s. A lot of her furniture was green, even the walls and the carpet. A few photos of her with Callie were on the walls. At her desk was a mirror with some makeup kit, it’s contents spilled out on the desk. Dust had been settling on the surface of it. Marie’s draws were forced open. Clothes and other contents were lying on the floor. Even Marie’s bed sheets had been messed up.
“Great Zapfish!” The cap’n exclaimed, looking around. “Even Marie’s room is a mess!”
I set Marie on her bed, making sure her head was neatly on the pillow and set her shoes on the floor.
“What do you think the perpetrator wanted?” I said.
“I’m not sure,” said the cap’n. “Take a look in here. I’m gonna check the rest of the house.”
The cap’n left me alone. Nothing looked missing, but I had never been in Marie’s room until now, so I wasn’t sure. I just started picking up from the floor and checking for any clues. I folded the laundry and tucked them away in the draws and sorted Marie’s makeup bottles. Before leaving, I checked on Marie again.
“Rest easy, Marie,” I said. “I’ll find who did this.”
I went towards Callie’s room. Upon peeking in, I saw it was just as messy as the other room. Pink as it was, and the posters of music bands and family pictures aside, I found that radio I heard Marie talking into the other day. In fact, it looked like the only thing in the room that was untouched. Like Marie’s room, I didn’t find any clues and cleaned up the mess.
Then I went into Agent 3’s old room and found that barely anything was touched. In fact, it wasn’t a mess at all. It looked pretty much the same. Granted, some things one Agent 3’s desk were gone, but it looked like whoever was here left it alone. I checked the closet and some of the weapons and all the Splat Bombs were no longer in there, along with some gear.
I headed down the hall and into the living room and it looked almost as messy as the rooms. Even the couch cushions had been tossed aside. Once I went into the kitchen, I saw the cap’n trying to clean up.
“Did you find any clues?” said the cap’n.
“No,” I said. “But it doesn’t seem anything valuable was missing.”
The cap’n opened the fridge.
“Whoever was in here, it looked like they were looking for something.”
“And they stole all my crabby cakes!” he yelled. “Curse those Octo jerks!”
“You think it was them?” I said.
“Who else could it have been?!”
I checked the living room again from the doorway.
“It’s just… the Octarians don’t really care for discretion. They would’ve left fuschia ink on the floor.”
“It probably evaporated already.”
“M-Maybe. But… Octarian ink has a tendency to stay around a lot longer than ink from Inklings.”
The cap’n gasped. “You’re right!”
“Then, whoever was here…” I began to walk back into the living room. “It wasn’t an Octarian.”
“No…” the cap’n said. “It couldn’t be…”
The cap’n rushed past me and towards the hall. I followed after him and found him going into the basement. Once again, the door had been left open. I switched on the light, before following him down stairs. A lot of the storage crates had been broken by some kind of force.
“The damage…” I said. “It looks like… ink weapon shots…”
“Agent 3…” said the cap’n.
“Agent 3?” I knew that was a topic that both Marie and the cap’n avoided talking about. “What would Agent 3 want with this place?”
The cap’n looked up at the empty, broken snow globe.
“To finish the job…” he mumbled.
As the cap’n stared at the globe when he said that, I could only come to the conclusion that shook me to my core.
“W-Wait,” I said, slowly. “Agent 3... wants to... kill Octavio?”
The cap’n sighed. “Yes… That’s probably one of the reasons the bucko went awol. We wouldn’t let that happen.”
“Agent 3 came back to finish the job,” I pondered out loud, “only to find out he wasn’t here. That’s probably why all your maps are gone.”
“To find out where he is!” said the cap’n. “We need to find Octavio before Agent 3 does!”
The cap’n went back up the stairs and I followed after him. After we finished cleaning up the house, he went to go look after Marie and I went to bed. I sat down, but couldn’t take my mind off what happened. And… a thought entered my mind that I never thought would. Why not kill Octavio? He and his fellow Octarians are beings who allow the suffering of Inklings over a war that happened over a hundred years ago. The scars and my… eyes… were a constant reminder of that. As long as he stands, no Inkling will be safe. Just thinking about that was making knots in my stomach. Almost the whole house looked like it had been hit by a tornado.
Agent 3… what the shell happened to you?
When I woke up the next morning, it was pretty quiet. It was a bit unsettling to still be staying here, since it had been broken into twice. I stood up from the bed, put on a t-shirt and made my way out.
“Marie?” I said, peeking into her bedroom. Marie was still out cold, but it didn’t seem like she was in any pain. I began to guess that Marie was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and that’s why Agent 3 knocked her out. At least, that’s what I hope happened.
Once I had breakfast ready, I went into the living room and switched on the TV.
“...currently awaiting trial.” I tuned in just in time to see the end of a news story. “In other news, local rap duo, Off the Hook, unveiled their new song during last night’s concert at Starfish Mainstage.”
Footage began to play of the concert. Pearl and Marina were really into this song. Their ink colors of pink and green had changed to blue and red. The crowd was going wild.
“An interview with the duo has brought to light that this new song they’ve debut has been titled ‘Nasty Majesty’, and… Hold on.” The newscaster leaned closer to what I assumed was the teleprompter. “This just in. We now go live to Off the Hook who are currently standing in front of Deca Tower.”
The camera switched over to show Pearl and Marina. Other Inklings were there nervously chatting and pointing upward and taking photos. Some Inklings were waving at the camera.
“Are we live?” said Pearl. “Okay! Okay! So, in case you didn’t know, THE GREAT ZAPFISH HAS VANISHED!”
“What?!” I said.
The camera looked to the top of the tower. They weren’t lying. The giant fish that was there was gone!
“This is terrible!” Marina said, as the camera lowered to focus on them again.
“I swear, I’ve heard this thing somewhere before,” said Pearl.
“W-Well, yeah… M-Me too, but what’s been going on?! First Callie, now the Zapfish?! We should do something!”
“Maybe, but... Eh, I’m sure they’ll turn up eventually,” said Pearl. “I think that’s what happened last time, so… maybe that’ll happen again?”
“Um, I guess…?” said Marina. “Well, Judd and Lil’ Judd have set up ink battle schedules to save power for the time being. I hope we find that Zapfish soon. How are we gonna run Splatfests without power? NO! I CAN’T IMAGINE THAT!”
“Relax, Marina,” said Pearl. “I’m sure it’ll work out in the end. Probably... Well, we’ll be sure to keep you posted on this Zapfish business. Oh! And we should have the Splatfest results soon. Until next time…”
“Don’t get cooked… stay off the hook!” the two said.
I turned from the TV to see that the cap’n was up.
“The Octarians are coming!” he said.
“Yeah, no squidding!” I said, shutting off the TV. “They stole the Great Zapfish from Deca Tower. They’re probably going to use it to power something big.”
“Like what?” said the cap’n.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I do remember the Octarians talking about a huge project, just before Callie and Marie rescued me.”
“We gotta assemble the Splatoon!” said the cap’n.
“Yeah.” I stood up. “I’ll go check on Marie.”
I walked back towards Marie’s room. It was still quiet, but when I looked in, Marie was sitting on the edge of her bed. She was staring towards the window in the back.
“Marie,” I said.
She didn’t turn to me when I said her name. She seemed hunched over, her hand covering her mouth.
“You’re… awake,” I said, sounding more soft. I walked over slowly, not wanting to scare her. Marie straightened up gently, taking her hand off her mouth.
“Agent 3…” She turned towards me. “-was here.” Tears were filling her eyes. “I had to hand over the maps.”
“What?” I said.
“Agent 3 was going to kill me…” Marie said that in almost a whisper. She was shivering.
“But… you’re okay,” I said.
“Because I handed over the maps…” said Marie. “Then I felt the Hero-shot on the back of my head and… I thought…”
“Marie, don’t think about that!” I said. “You’re okay. Agent 3 is gone now.”
The cap’n came through the door and rushed over to his granddaughter, putting both hands on her shoulders. “Are you alright? Can you stand?”
“Gramps, I’m fine,” Marie said, pushing him away, gently. “My head just… hurts kinda.”
“Oh, you dropped this,” I said, picking up his cane. On closer inspection it looked more of a weapon. “Wait. Is this a Bamboozler?”
“Yep,” the cap’n said, his weapon back. “The old classic from the Great Turf War days.”
“So, what happened?” said Marie. “You guys were yelling about something in the living room.”
“Off the Hook went live, and… they said the Zapfish disappeared from Deca Tower,” said Erray.
Marie sighed. She began to stand up from the bed. “I think I know where we can go.”
“Whoa! Marie, you just took a nasty blow,” said the cap’n. “Are you sure you don’t want to… take a minute?”
“I’m fine,” Marie said, gruffly. “We have to track down the Great Zapfish, and possibly any other Zapfish they may have taken. She slipped on her shoes and began to walk towards the door. Come on, Erray. Let’s get you suited up. Gramps, can you make sure no one else breaks in?”
“Of course, Marie,” said the cap’n.
“Let’s go, Erray,” Marie said, grabbing her parasol.
“Best to do as she says, bucko,” said the cap’n.
“O-Okay,” I said. “Just let me put on my shoes.”
After Marie and I were ready, we headed out of the house and went from the outskirts of Inkopolis back into the city. We went back to the square, which seemed to be populated with a bunch of people of all kinds who came to look at the missing Zapish. There were also Inklings sitting sadly in front of the tower and on the benches, probably waiting for the chance to get into a match. We passed by Sheldon’s place and stopped near a grate.
“Through here,” said Marie.
“This sewer grate?” I said. “I don’t know.”
“Just go through it. I’ll be right behind you.”
“Okay,” I said. I looked both ways, to make sure no one was looking. Then I turned into a squid and went right through the grate into what felt like a dark abyss. There were a few twists and turns as I slid through it, but then I was thrown out of another grate back into the sun and onto solid ground. I turned back and stood up to get a look at my surroundings.
I didn’t know where I was exactly, but it was pretty clear this wasn’t Inkopolis. The area had some safety rails on the cliff. There was a couch with a TV near the grate and a small little abode was near this rock tunnel. It had these unique red lit lanterns on it and there was a green tapestry on the wall with the symbol of the Splatoon on it. The roof was red and a giant record player was on top, which was probably a satellite. There were also three targets set up for what I thought could be used for shooting practice.
“We made it,” Marie said, who came up from the grate after me. After she was back to her humanoid form, she pulled out her parasol.
“Where… are we, exactly?” I said.
“This is Octo Valley,” said Marie. “We’ve had an outpost here for quite a while, but I came here recently after Octavio broke into the cap’n’s house and found traces of fuschia ink up ahead. So, they’re probably nearby. Oh, and this house here, is like a little base. We call it Cuttlefish Cabin.” She walked into it and came out with some gear. “Here. This is for you.”
Marie put the items in my hands. It was a yellow sweater and a pair of snow boats.
“You’ll need them,” she said. “It’ll help protect you from the Octarians.”
“Okay,” I said. I slipped the sweater over my t-shirt and then took of my shoes to put on the boots. “There?”
“Not quite,” said Marie walked over and put some kind of headset that went around the back of my head. It also glowed whatever color my ink color was. “There. Not a bad fit for a hand-me-down. That headset you have will keep us in touch while you’re down in Octarian lairs.”
“W-Wait!” I said. “Y-You’re not gonna come with me?!”
“I’ve gotta stay and make sure no one come to the outpost,” said Marie.
“Don’t worry,” said Marie. “I’ll talk you through every step, and I won’t leave unless I’m hungry or something.”
“Just kidding! I won’t leave until you’re back out! Oh, and Sheldon finished this. Behold! The new Hero-shot.” She tossed me a yellow weapon with a black coloring on top. The handle could fit my whole arm for a good grip on the trigger and it was actually really light. Then I was given an ink tank and Marie turned the light on to link me to the Spawn Point nearby. “Now, come on.”
Marie and I went through the tunnel and on the other side was an open space. There were a few lamps that led up to these weird looking grates.
“Are these the entrances?” I said.
“Yeah,” said Marie. “How did you know? They’re invisible.”
“No, they’re not.”
“Um, they clearly are.”
“But I can…” I trailed off, realizing what was happening. Marie was already squinting at me. “Um, yeah, I’ll go… ink them right now!”
“Yeah…” Marie mumbled. “You do that…”
The first kettle I uncovered was near this giant one that was sealed off.
“So through there, then?” I said.
“Yup,” said Marie. “Now remember to use our code names while we speak to each other over the radio. I’ll be at Cuttlefish Cabin, talking to you.”
“O… kay,” I said.
Marie rushed back towards Cuttlefish Cabin. The darkness of the grate underneath gave me the chills. If I didn’t get the Zapfish back, Inkopolis would only be in more danger. I took a deep breath and went into the grate.
I came upon the familiarity of the screens around me when I rose up in my normal form and already felt the weight of the world on my shoulders again. I was high up since the buildings were held up high from many other buildings that were below. The screens looked hexagonal, and the sky they had at the moment was blue, but had an orange like hue on the other side, almost like a sunset.
“Agent 4, can you hear me?”
The voice came from the headphones.
“Yeah, I made it, Mar… Er, Agent 2,” I said.
“Okay,” said Marie. “There should be a swirling ink pool ahead. It’s a launchpad.”
“Okay,” I said.
I walked down the path forward, seeing as it was the only way forward. I spotted the swirling ink in front of me, so I turned into a squid and soared into the air as soon as I went into the vortex.
A whole field of fuschia ink covered the next rooftop I landed on. There had to be Octarians nearby, so I snuck around, inking a path to not touch the enemy ink, and hid behind the walls. Out around a corner I saw an Octo Trooper. It kind of just looked like a small octopus tentacle that piloted a small vehicle. It could also shoot these tiny blobs of ink when they see an enemy.
I immediately hid back behind the barricade, trying to hide my terrified gasp.
“What did you see?” said Marie.
“An Octo Trooper,” I answered.
“Does it have armor?”
“Well, no… but-”
“Then you’re fine,” said Marie. “Just take it out. You’re armed this time, remember?”
“Okay, okay,” I said. “Come on, Er… Agent 4!” I whispered to myself. “You can do this!”
I held the Hero-shot and then ran out yelling. “RAAAAAAAH!” I quickly fell forward to dodge its very slow shot that floated above me and splatted in in just a few hits.
“I did it!” I exclaimed, jumping in the air. Every limb I had was shaking, but I was happy.
“Yeah, yeah!” said Marie. “Good job, kid. Now just keep going.”
“Right away!” I said. And I inked a path and swam ahead. There was another Octo Trooper, but this one had a shield in front of it. All I had to do was through a Splat Bomb to distract it and shoot it from behind.
“Smart thinking!” said Marie.
“Well, I kind of remember these troopers not being the brightest,” I said. I super jumped to a roof that was higher up. “Okay, Octo slobs! Who’s next?!”
No one was around.
“Geez, Agent 4! Don’t draw attention to yourself!” said Marie.
I looked over the edge and saw more Troopers below. I could see through a grated platform. “Oh, here’s some more.” The Troopers immediately looked up.
“Um… hello?” I said.
They immediately shot upwards. I stumbled around and fell off the edge. Luckily, I threw a Splat Bomb and they lost me in the explosion. While they were distracted, I got them by swimming around quickly and shooting them.
“Phew!” I stood up from the ink.
“That sounded close,” said Marie. “Now, before you-”
I rounded the corner and threw a bomb at a pack of Octo Troopers who were stationed on top of a bunch of crates, yelling really loud. While they were startled by the collapsing pile and falling on each other, I ran in and splatted them.
“Take that!” I exclaimed. I ran towards the edge, feeling full of energy. A bunch of Octo Troopers with shields were below, surrounding a vault.
“What do you see now?” said Marie.
“Octo Troopers around a vault,” I said. “I got it.” With a round of Tenta Missiles, I dove down as they landed just to see them all get splatted, and a golden key landed near my feet. “Found a key.”
“Splatastic,” said Marie. “Try opening the vault.”
“Right away,” I said.
Another launchpad was in the vault, so I took it to see where it would land me. It was a lone platform, but at the end of it was what I thought we were looking for.
“What do you see?” said Marie.
“A weird looking yellow fish thing,” I said. “It’s surrounded by a barrier.”
“That’s a Zapfish! Bust it out and grab it!”
“Okay,” I said. “Easy does it, Zapfish.”
I shot at the barrier until it exploded, then I grabbed the fish gently, carefully freeing its antennas from whatever it was attached to and pulled it into my arms.
“I got it!” I said.
“Yes! Okay, just go back the way you came and come back to Octo Canyon.”
Since all the Octarians were gone, it was just a peaceful stroll back to where I came in. Soon I was back at Octo Canyon with the Zapfish in tow. Marie ran out to meet me when I made it back to Cuttlefish Cabin.
“You made it!” said Marie. She finally smiled at the results. “And the Zapfish looks okay. Here. I’ll go make sure it’s safe.” She took the Zapfish from me and went to put it in Cuttlefish Cabin. She came back out and picked up her parasol. “Did you find any clues about Callie in there?”
“No,” I said. “Sorry.”
Marie sighed. “Well, that was a low level security place,” she said. “You did a good job, though… even if you did a terrible job remaining stealthy.”
“They’re just low level troops,” I said. “Besides, I feel great! It’s nice to be the one holding the weapon for a change.”
“Yeah, but when you face the bigger opponents, you’ll be sorry you hadn’t mastered stealth,” said Marie. “I would know, since I main chargers and that’s all about stealth.”
“Okay, fine,” I said. “What do we do now?”
“Well, I lock up the tunnel and we can go back and see the cap’n. I’ll get the Zapfish somewhere safe, since his house obviously isn’t safe for hiding important stuff.”
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll meet you there.”
Once I made it back, Sheldon was actually there, waiting for me.
“Hello, hello!” he said, as I stepped into the living room.
“Oh, hey Sheldon,” I said. “What brings you by?”
“Well, Marie told me how your first mission went. Were there any problems with your new Hero-shot?”
“No, it works fine,” I said. “Average rate of fire and a good amount of damage dealing.”
“Well, that’s good to hear,” said Sheldon. “I hear you’ve also been fancying the Dualies. I can make upgrades to your weapons and make a hero version of the Dualies if you’d like. Of course, I still have a business to run, so you know.”
“Yeah, I still have to pay you,” I said.
“Well, I also wanted to talk to Marie about her charger. So I’ll be here until she gets back.”
“Oh, okay,” I said.
I wandered into Agent 3’s old room and sat around, thinking about what to do. So much has happened lately, I had completely forgotten about Bass and Angel. I wondered what they were up to right now? Angel seemed really upset, and it seemed to be tied to Callie and Marie, but… they would never do something so terrible to someone… right?
Then Agent 3 came to mind. Why did Agent 3 abandon them? Marie was demanding for Agent 3 to come back, but nothing. I wish I could ask, but something was telling me that they wouldn’t say if I did.
I got up and wandered into Callie’s room. The radio was still on the table. Agent 3 maybe wasn’t willing to talk to Callie or Marie, but maybe Agent 3 will respond to someone new. Once the radio was on, I grabbed the mic, hoping that it was still on the right frequency.
“Um… Hello?” I said. “S-Sorry, I’m new to this radio thing, but… Is this… Agent 3?”
There was no response.
“W-Well, I’m not sure I should give away who I am, but I’m Agent 4 of the New Squidbeak Splatoon.”
I fell silent after that, but there was still nothing, so I had to think of something else to say.
“U-Um, so obviously, I met Agent’s 1 and 2 and, in case you didn’t know, Agent 1 is missing. I don’t know what’s happened between you and them, but… I don’t think you should let that stop you from working together to defeat Octavio. I also think it would make everyone feel better if you came back.”
“Hey, I’m back!” It sounded like Marie. The radio still remained silent.
“Well, I should get going,” I said. “Sorry.”
I got up and set the mic down. That’s when I saw Marie in the doorway.
“Hey,” she said. “What are you-”
“Who… is… this?”
Marie and I turned to the radio. It was probably some kind of modulator.
“I was… just…” I said, but Marie pushed me out of the way and marched right over to the radio.
“Agent 3?” said Marie. “Agent 3, lose the modulator and talk to us normally!”
“What’s going on in here?” Sheldon was in the doorway.
“Agent 3?” said Marie. I guess whoever was there wasn’t responding anymore. “Sheldon, quick! Can you trace where that came from?”
Sheldon raced over and grabbed Callie’s laptop. He began typing rapidly.
“I-I can’t!” he said. “There’s some kind of interference blocking me from doing so. Let me just… Awwww, carp! I lost it.”
Marie growled, her shoulder raised and she formed fists with her hands. She then stopped and looked at me and Sheldon and took a deep breath. “S-Sorry. I know you did all you could. Come on, Sheldon. I need you to take a look at my charger.”
“S-Sorry, Marie…” I said.
“Just… stop touching things.” Marie hissed.
Marie said nothing else to me as she walked out with Sheldon. I couldn’t believe Agent 3 actually spoke to me. Maybe it was because I was new and so there wasn’t a reason to be mad at me? I don’t know. I wish I could know what was going on...