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Color Me Surprised

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-2 years after the move to inkopolis-

Straw walked the short distance from her new apartment complex to the square for a bit of battling. She wanted to get a head start before the lobby’s rush hour to get acquainted with how everything worked. She was a bit rusty; since the last time she competed in the finals for her Pro drafts was about a year and a half ago. Sadly she was not picked for a league team and was content to sit on the side with her small earnings from her new job as a TWE (Turf War Education) teacher for inkopolis junior school.

While her thoughts began to drift to what she was going to be teaching the young squids, her eyes immediately caught a flash of green and dark gray. Curious, she looked to a fretting figure. They turned around to go back the way they came, the worried face of a female inkling stuck out to Straw like a sore thumb, almost as much as her white tentacles and golden eyes. The inkling seemed oddly familiar but Straw couldn’t exactly put her finger on it. Maybe she should check on this person. It could be something she could help with.

Straw took her first steps towards the lady, aiming to call out to her once she got close enough, but once she did the other inkling changed into her squid form and hopped into a grate directly below her. Baffled as she was, and admittedly a little scared, Straw was not one to turn away from someone clearly in need of help so with a leap of faith she turned into her forest green squid form and hopped down the drain after the mysterious inkling.

Surprised… was a little bit of a downplay on how Straw felt when she surfaced from the other end of the grate. No, she felt astounded at the landscape before her and in the distance she could see the city plain as day. How can a sewer grate lead to this?

The woman from the square was there too. She stood beside a small cabin with her back to Straw, completely unaware of the other’s presence. “Uh, excuse me? Are you alright?” She turned around, hearing Straw ask the question.

“The octarians?” She has on a fresh gray and green kimono, her hands hold a lime green parasol over her head to ward away the sun's rays. “No, just some random inkling, thank goodness. You don’t look built for combat but gramps didn’t pick the best looking either and his did fine.”

“I’m confused, can I help you? You looked a bit distressed back at the square.” This was becoming a mess. Octarians? Built for combat? Not the best looking!? Straw wasn’t sure if this squid was messing with her or needed mental help.

“Yes, you can help me. I’m Marie, I know you are probably a bit starstruck but get over it.”

“Who…?”

Still stuck in her one sided introduction Marie continues “yes, I’m THAT Marie. you know, from the Squid Sisters!”

“Uh…?” Straw couldn’t wrap her head around this. The name did sound familiar. Where had she heard of it before? Oh, right! Her old roommate had a bunch of those Squid Sisters posters plastered on nearly every blank space in her room.

“Wait, you’ve seriously never heard of me before?”disbelief was written all over Marie’s face and Straw looks away sheepishly.

“No, not really. I’ve never listened to your music before, but I’ve heard of you.”

“Well I guess distractions won’t be a problem with your work.” Marie disappeared into the cabin and came out a moment later with some clothes and tossed them at Straw. “Put these on. You can change in the cuttlefish cabin.” Before Straw could even utter a word she walked away at a brisk pace and out of Straw’s sight.

Sighing, She stepped into the cabin. “Looks like I’m not going to be getting some early warmups in today.”

———————-

Straw resurfaced from the first kettle she had submerged herself in, a mini zapfish snuggling into her arm. The little zapfish seemed content, however, the inkling carrying it was a different story entirely. Straw was a silent mess. She just gunned down a platoon of octarian soldiers like it was just normal old turf war!

A hand plucked the zapfish from her arms causing it to buzz slightly in irritation. The zap from the buzz pulled Straw out of her inner turmoil and she finally noticed Marie standing beside her. “How are you feeling after your first mission, agent 4?”

“Wait, what? Agent… 4? You mean to tell me there are 3 other agents and none of them could do this instead of me?”

“No one is available. Just before DJ Octavio, the leader of the octarian menace, escaped; agent 3 and captain went on some odd mission that they wouldn’t tell anyone else about, agent 2 is, um, busy,” She said that part with a bit less assurance than the first, “I have to stand guard over the cabin, and…. and shortly after DJ Octavio escaped agent 1 went missing.” she sighed and turned to face away from Straw, “Just focus on your mission I promise once we sort all of this mess out you’re free to go.” with no further questions Marie carried the little zapfish into the cabin.

Straw turned back to Octo canyon, “well, I guess I’ll go get more.” not hearing a reply, she went to find the next ‘kettle’ as Marie called it. Once she finally found one she inked it and the ground around it with her new weapon, the hero shot. Straw stood over the now visible grate, “I’d much rather prefer a set of dualies but I guess I can call this practice, in a twisted kind of way.” She slipped into the kettle with a bit more determination.

The dome she surfaced in looked almost like one of the battle stages in inkopolis, the Reef. Straw looked around and switched on her communicator. “Um, Marie, why am I’m in the Reef? Isn’t this a battle stage in inkopolis?”

“You’re not in the Reef. It’s currently an active battle stage. You went to school right?”

Oh, that struck a nerve, “what do you mean ‘did I go to school?’ Of course I did! I’m not some drop out turffer! I’ll have you know I’m a league champion, two time league semi-finalist, and a TFE for Inkopolis Junior High!” Straw was not in the mood for that kind of comment.

“Geez, I was just asking to make sure you’d know what I’m talking about.” She sounded annoyed, “anyway before you, so rudely, interrupted me; when the primitive species roamed the world 12,000 years ago, it was believed that they fought in wars of their own. To train fighters they would build structures similar to their enemies significant landmarks. The octarians have adopted that style of training their octoling force.”

“Fine, sorry I had an outburst. So octolings are in this too? Holy squid this is just getting weirder.” Suddenly Straw heard a strange high pitched beep in her headset. “Charge low. Plug into a power source for re-energization.”

Straw looked around the Reef replica and spotted a zapfish not far off from her position. “Well isn’t this easy? One zapfish coming up Marie!” She ran towards the cell charger, ready to splat open the ink-case.

Marie’s yell of warning was far too late as the head of a roller came crashing down onto Straw’s terror ridden face.