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Strangers Like Them

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The nature of those known as Inklings and those known as the Octarians is the nature of the sport known as 'Turf War'. It wasn't all fun and games in the beginning, by no means. One hundred years ago, the branching evolutionary lines of the cephelopods, the Inklings and Octarians, fought over the dwindling land and resources of the world. In the end, the Inklings managed to win, thanks in part to some foolish sucker on the other side accidentally unplugging the wrong thing.

Regardless, several centuries after the event known as the Great Turf War, Inkling society flourished, and Turf Wars became a thing of sport. Like soccer, only with real action, and people being allowed to get hit without penalty. Unless it was biting, but let's not go down that road.

One hundred years after the original Turf War, the ruler of the Octarians and one of their branched evolutions, the Octolings, stole from the Inklings the Great Zapfish, which was used to power the grand city of Inkopolis. Through the efforts of an Inkling known only as Agent Three of the New Squidbeak Splatoon, the Octarian menace that was lead by DJ Octavio was thwarted, with the populace of Inkopolis being none the wiser.

Then, two years after that, Octavio tried again. And failed. Because that's what happens when you mess with the Squidbeak Splatoon. During that time, however, there was a sort of... revolution, let's say, among the Octarian species. Specifically, the Octolings, and how they were touched by the song known as the Calamari Inkantation. Basically, it was a bunch of teenagers running away from home because dad wasn't 'fresh enough', whatever that meant.

Regardless, the Octolings began to integrate themselves into Inkling society, to a surprising amount of success. Of course, that was mostly to do with the fact that the average Inkling actually doesn't know what an Octoling looks like. To them, the Octolings are just Inklings with wacky hair styles. Those that known of the Octolings are also those that know of their change after the Inkantation, and those that later realised they were Octolings had already concluded that they were good people, and decided not to bring it up. You know, like friends do.

Naturally, there were still those that were not down with the idea of co-habitation with people that were once their sworn enemies, but those numbered in the few and far between. Most of the time.

Regardless of how one looks at it, though, the society of Inkopolis, and all of the world, teeters on the edge of utopia and anarchy. This, is but a few of those many stories.

 A lone Octoling ducked behind the inflatable cover, breathing heavily but steady. This was a rather typical situation for a Turf War, being cornered down middle of Moray Towers, one team mate down, and the other two trying to flank left and right.

This particular Octoling had a pair of dull blue eyes, and was dressed rather heavily, with a dark long-coat -Navy Eminence Jacket-, a pair of wooden sandals -...Wooden Sandals...-, and finished with a blue, wide cone hat -Bamboo Hat-. In her hands was her weapon of preference, the standard issue Heavy Splatling.

Peeking around the corner, the Octoling quickly pulled back as a rouge Charger shot went past. A Custom E-liter 4K Scope, at that. Perfect. Just what the squidding doctor ordered.

The indicator for a Super Jump appeared next to her. Good, meant that team mate has just respawned and is heading her way. The red line of the Charger was being aimed over her cover, keeping track of her team mates trajectory. Not good. If the past minute and a half was anything to go by, that Charger user was a crack shot. Unfortunately for them, however, the Octoling was rather cunning herself.

The exact moment her ally was within range of the Charger, the shot was fired. In response, though, the Octoling lobbed her sub weapon, an Ink Sprinkler, into the line of fire, perfectly intercepting the shot. It wasn't an easy strategy to pull off, but not many people were Agent Eight, or Eighter, as she had come to prefer.

Her team mate finally landed. He was a male Inkling of around average height and blue eyes, carrying what was by far the most ridiculous weapon in all of Inkopolis; a Squeezer (Foil branded, specifically). On top of that, he was dressed in what was known as the Old-Timey set, consisting of a white hat, black glasses, a green jacket, silver headphones around the neck, and a pair of black slip-ons. It was only fitting, then, that such a squid was named Timey.

“Thanks for the cover, Eighter,” he spoke. Timey had one of those voices that let a person known they were instantly trust-able. Of course, such a mindset to have for any cephelopod was rather dangerous, but then again, there were some surprising exceptions to the rules.

“Just don't expect that service every time, Timey,” Eighter replied. “You should have jumped to Deej or Shades, helped them flank.”

“And leave you alone on the front lines? Not a chance.” Yup. Timey was just that sort of person.

“Yo, Splat-birds! Ya mind comin' up with a plan right now?” the voice of a male Octoling, Deej, took the two from their conversation. Deej was a rather curious looking Octoling, with green eyes, a tentacle hair-style that amounted to an afro -how the heck anyone pulled that off was beyond Eighter's understanding-, and dressed in an Anchor Life Vest, a pair of Hero Headphones Replicas, and a pair of Angry Rain Boots. His weapon of choice, at least for this match, was the Dark Tetra Duelies. “Hate ta be that guy, but we've half a minute left!”

“I'm going to agree with him on this one,” an Inkling girl -and their final team member- by the name of Shades shouted as she flung a series of bubbles from her Slosher (Bloblobber style). Her tentacles were kept short, and the only thing of note about her attire was the pair of 18K Aviators she wore -everything else was standard beginner equipment-. “We've our backs against the wall as it is.”

Eighter pondered for a brief second, before an idea struck. “Then all we can do is push forward.”

Timey tried to ask what she was on about, but understood immediately when she pulled forth a rather sizeable weapon from the inky Aether. Specials, as they are known by, are powerful weapons much akin to sub weapons, only they require time to charge. In Eighter's case, the Special she pulled forth was a long barrelled rifle attached to a massive ink canister, known as the Sting Ray.

And one of its major properties, you might ask? Wall piercing ink beam.

The plan was simple and obvious: divide and conquer. Aiming the Sting Ray at the wall that kept the foes at bay, Eighter held the trigger.

 “Man, what a game!”

To say that Timey was feeling good right now would be an understatement. Then again, he was always like this whenever there was a close match. Eighter and co. simply learned how to deal with it. “Ya kidding? The only way we pulled that off was with Eight-balls quick thinking!” Deej responded, seeming not to notice Eighter's slight twitch.

“Aw, it wouldn't have been that bad,” Timey stated. “I mean, even with our backs to the wall, we still had fun, right?”

Shades gave a small sigh, though it felt as if it were mixed with a laugh. “Well, leave it someone like you to always see the bright side, right?”

Timey gave a cheeky, toothy grin. “Well, I'm about ready to call it a day,” the young Inkling said, “how about you three?”

“Seconded,” Shades said first, already departing the group.

“Yeah, need to check in with my homies,” Deej replied. “Eighter, how 'bout you?”

Eighter pulled her phone out, checking the time. “I've still got an hour to kill before I meet up with a friend of mine,” she explained, “so I'm probably going to hop back in for another game.”

“Sounds fun,” Timey said cheerfully. “Whelp, see ya tomorrow, then!”

And like the wind in a valley, the group had gone their separate ways for the day. This was basically routine at this point. Meet up, do some Turf Wars, shoot the squit, and go home.

Eighter much preferred it, truth be told. It was certainly better than the Metro, that was for certain.

Regardless, there was still time to pass, so she turned back around, and re-entered the lobby.

 Octo Valley, located directly underneath Inkopolis (somehow), was a place that spanned for mile upon miles. A fitting place for two factions to wage a war in the past.

Four, as she had come to be known as, found this place to be a cruel reminder of what could go wrong if her guard was dropped.

Well, it might be more accurate to say that everything these days was such a reminder.

Four did not like to think she was fundamentally speciest, heck, some of her good friends were non-cephalopods, but she could not deny the fact that she held a general dislike for anything Octarian. Perhaps it was the upbringing, being raised in a family who had lost many a member in the Great Turf War. Maybe it was their more present day actions, such as stealing Zapfish and squidnapping one of the famous Squid Sisters for their nefarious deeds.

Regardless of what the cause was, Four was no fan of Octarians, and by extention, Octolings. She may not have been the only one to have that sentiment overall, but among the Squidbeak Splatoon, she was a loner in that regard.

A familiar splatting sound was heard from the grating that connects Inkopolis to Octo Valley. She turned around to see... “Oh. It's just you.”

A male Inkling, at least two years older than her, dressed in somewhat older Hero Gear, and topped off with a tattered grey cloak. “Ah, the cold shoulder as always,” he said chipperly, hardly phased by Four's distasteful tone. “It's good to see you too, Four.”

Four let out a sigh. “Yeah, yeah. Just stop acting so chummy, Three.”

Agent Three, her 'immediate better' in regards to the Splatoon, was an annoying friendly person. This blue eyed Inkling with the top-knot in his tentacles seemed to make it his business to make sure just about everyone has a reason to smile on any given day. Most people found him to be rather endearing. Four just found him to be rather up himself.

“Guess some things just won't change,” Three stated, before giving a friendly wave to the imprisoned Octavio in the distance, who seemed to... wave back? So he was being chummy with the enemy now?

Well, Four couldn't care less. The field upon which she grew all the damns she gave on the matter of who Three is friends with had long since gone barren.

Sighing heavily, Four slung her Charger over her shoulder. “I should be getting back. It's late, and if I stay around that bastard any longer, I might kill something.”

“You do that, then,” Three said. “Besides, I doubt you'd actually kill a person. You don't seem like the type of girl to do that.”

Four gave him a sharp glare. “You know, Three,” she began, “you should really consider who your friends are. You never know who might stab you in the back.”

“Oh, I know,” Three replied. “I think you give others too little credit, though.”

Four let out a harumph of discontent, a sound that most people were, funnily enough, discontented with. With not a word extra, Four left through the grating.

Three let out a small sigh. “You know, I'd really wish she'd open up a bit more.”

“Asking the impossible, Squid,” Octavio shouted from his glassy prison. “Heck, when I fought her, she was nothing like you.”

“It's not that I want her to be like me,” Three retorted. “I just... I just think she might have a better time with a different perspective.”

Octavio cackled lightly. “Preaching to the choir, there.”

“I guess so,” Three muttered, before pulling something out of his satchel. “In any case, I brought you some more music, like you asked.”

“No more of Cuttlefish's grandkids, right?” Octavio pressed, as the CD was placed in his tank. “There's only so much of that flippin' Inkantation I can take.”

Three gave a light chuckle. “Don't worry, I got you something newer.”

Octavio grabbed the CD as it floated to eye level. “Off the Hook? Never heard of 'em.”

“They're not that recent,” Three explained, “only really coming on the scene a year and a bit ago. Heck, the singers are actually good friends of mine.”

Octavio gave the boy a look. “You know, for a little scrap Craig picked up off the side of the road for his Splatoon, you sure know a lot of people in the music industry.”

As Octavio placed the CD in the player built into the base of his prison (one of many perks allowed to him), Three chuckled slightly. “Well, I guess some things just work out that way.”

The CD began to spin, and the first song played.

Ebb and Flow.

An upbeat piano started the song off, before dropping into a techno rhythm. “Oh?” Octavio muttered. “There's a rather hefty amount of Octarian style in this group.”

“Just give it a moment.”

Then the lyrics hit.

Blast off!”

Give it all!”

Hey Hey!”

Don't give up and listen!”
“Don't give up and listen!”

Octavio's eyes immediately went wide. “That's... Marina Ida?!”

Three looked at the DJ king with warm surprise. “I had a feeling you might, but you actually recognise her?”

“How could I not? Ida was an absolute prodigy back in the day.” Octavio's voice took on a tone that was heavy with reminiscence. “Heck, we'd've had more of the Octoweapons repaired the second time around if she had been there.”

Three silently thanked the Inkantation for at least getting Marina away from Octarian society before that happened. He checked his watch briefly. “Good heavens, is that the time?” he exclaimed. “I've got to get going. The captain said he wanted us to finish up 'that place' today.”

Octavio raised a brow at the Inkling. “That place? What place are you talking about?”

“The Deepsea Metro,” Three answered. “We found a lot of weird stuff down there, including some group called...”

“Kamabo,” Octavio spat. “Felt like that hell hole would come up at some point.”

Three was not surprised that he knew of the Kamabo Group. He was, however, surprised by how much venom was in his voice just from uttering its name. “Not a fan, by the sounds of it.”

“Were it in my power,” Octavio began, “I would have dubstomped that group years ago.” There was a brief, sombre pause. “Do me a favour, would ya?” he asked. “When you're down there, ya mind keeping an ear open for an up and coming dj called Dedf1sh?”

“Dedf1sh?” Three muttered. “Sure thing, but do you mind if I ask why?”

“It's...” Octavio paused. “It's just a personal matter. I'll tell ya more another time.”

It was rather unusual for Octavio to use that sort of reason for not telling something. Regardless, Three nodded. “Alright. I'll keep an ear to the ground for you.”

 Her hour had passed, and Eighter left the lobby feeling... rather displeased.

There was absolutely no coordination between the slapped together team she was on. Not to mention the fact that she was on a team with three Chargers. Three! How's a Splatling main suppose to get anything done when her team's focusing in splatting the enemy rather than covering ground?

With a sigh, Eighter took a seat at the first free table she found. Pulling out her phone, she noticed she had one missed message.

MC Princess: Jst dropd Reena off @ place. B thr soon.

Eighter chuckled slightly. It was totally like her to short-hand a text like that.

“Get stood up on ya date or something?” someone spoke suddenly. Without reacting, Eighter turned her gaze to the male that took one of the free seats on her table.

“Deej,” she regarded her friend. “To answer that; no. She just texted me saying she's on her way.”

“You're not denying it's a date, though.”

Eighter noticed the smirk on Deej's face, and raised one of her own. “Well, even if I did deny it, you probably wouldn't believe it. So why try?”

Deej laughed slightly. “Alright, ya got me. But in all seriousness, who are ya waiting for?”

“You wouldn't believe me if I told you,” Eighter answered. “Just give it a moment or two, and you'll see.”

The moment she stopped talking, a particularly familiar holographic circle appeared on the rim of Eighter's hat. “Hey, um. I don't know how to tell ya this,” Deej spoke, “but I think someone's about ta Superjump onto ya head.”

“Yeah, that'd be her.” What proceeded to happen within the next five seconds could only truly be appreciated in slow-mo.

Second 1: Eighter leaned back in her chair, using her feet to push herself out.

Second 2: She proceeded to do a flip once she was in the air.

Second 3: The Inkling whom was currently Superjumping was caught mid-flight by Eighter.

Second 4: Eighter, with the pink Inkling in a not-suffocating-but-still-somewhat-tight hug, did one more flip, because why not.

Second 5: She stuck the landing, as her chair rocked back into its previous position.

Was the entire thing really necessary? No. Did Eighter believe it was necessary? Probably. Was it an awesome sight to witness from barely two metres away? Yes.

Holding the surprisingly small Inkling at arms length, Eighter gave an amused smile. “Really trying to make that entrance, aren't you?”

“You know it, girl!” the Inkling stated.

Deej blinked in surprise. Not at the stunt that had just been pulled, but at the sound of the Inkling's voice. “I know that voice,” he muttered. “Aren't you...”

The Inkling took notice of Deej. “Ah, he a friend of yours?” she asked, to which Eighter nodded. “Well, a friend of yours is a friend of ours!” The Inkling leapt from Eighter's arms, shifted in mid-air, and...

“Holy Squid, you're...”

The Inkling -short though she was- quickly clamped Deej's mouth shut. “Yeah, I know I'm Pearl,” she stated. “Try not to blow my cover, yeah?”

Deej obeyed, but still could not believe what he was seeing. Off the Hook, as far as bands go, was a shining beacon for the Octolings that migrated into Inkopolis society. They were living proof that Inklings and Octolings could work together without fail. Before, there was a question on whether Pearl was aware of the Octoling presence. This was answered when, one day, she was seen wearing a shirt that read 'I know' in Octarian script. Safe to say, that won her many, many fans in the Octoling communities.

The fact that she also bought several apartment buildings so that Octolings could live comfortably on minimum rent? Forget being an idol, Pearl was a Cod damned saint to them.

And here she was, in the flesh, talking to Eighter like nobodies business. He wondered briefly what they were meeting up for.

“So, Eighter,” Pearl started, “how's the injuries holding up?”

Injuries? This was news to Deej. “Pretty well, actually,” Eighter responded. “Thanks to that cream Marina made, I'd say I'm good for today's trial.”

“Hold on, yo,” Deej interrupted. “Injuries? Trial? Whatchu talkin' 'bout, girls?”

Eighter had a look on her face as if remembering where she left an item she was looking for. “Oh, right, I haven't told you or Shades about it, have I?” A small part of Deej's mind was thankful she specified him and Shades, and not 'you guys', meaning that Timey at least knew to some extent. “A few months ago, I was in a rather... dangerous situation. It resulted in a lot of wounds on my back. While it was healing, I had to keep my back in a certain posture, which happened to coincide with how a person would hold a Heavy Splatling.”

“Wait, that's why you mained the Splatling?” Deej exclaimed.

“You know it,” Pearl answered. “So, today, we're planning on getting her some more weapons. See if she can't get comfortable with something that doesn't weigh a ton and a half.”

Deej mused the idea for a moment. “A'ight, then. I'll tag along, if that's fine.”

“Hell yeah!” Pearl shouted. “Ain't nothing wrong with that.”

Eighter allowed herself a smile. It was plainly obvious to her that Deej and Pearl were birds of a feather.

Honestly, though, she wouldn't have it any other way.