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meeting again

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She freezes in her tracks, grip involuntarily tightening on her Splatterscope. It's custom made, coming straight from Kamabo Co. itself, and though she doesn't trust it too much, it's all the comfort she has in this unknown territory. She turns slowly in case the other will make any sudden moves, Splatterscope raising slightly.

Her voice is faint, more hesitant than anything. "Who are you?" She doesn't confirm nor deny her identity.

The Inkling in front of her has the Chaos symbol patterned across his left eye, his body battered and bloodied with a dark blue like he just smashed through a wall. There are shards of some strange dark plastic in the folds of his clothes. His hands are raised in surrender, attempting to placate her, but she knows that no one these days ever goes unarmed. Ever. No one is to be trusted. Ever.

"You don't remember me?" He sounds slightly hurt now and her hearts lurch slightly, though she takes no notice of it. "Pace, it's me. Eging Junior, remember?"

Eging Junior. She doesn't remember. This could be a trick, a trap to calm her, get behind her defenses. The goop scar on the side of her face stings and she raises her weapon to aim at the other's chest. "I have no idea who you are."

“Pace, c'mon, really? I knew you and Emp and Prince all joined Team Order, but--"

“How do you know?" She brings the scope up to aim at his face but she doesn't release the trigger yet. Her finger is shaking slightly. Emperor. Prince. Those are people she remembered, the people she loved like a family. 

"I was on your team before this, Pace. Before the division of Inkopolis. Before the damned Splatfest."

"I--" She hesitates. Whatever this Inkling was saying could be true; she doesn't remember anything that happened before... before she was partially sanitized. It's the pain. The pain, screaming, her companions, all of that was the start of her life. This life. The rest is just hazy fog, frustratingly out of reach. "I don't remember."

Eging's face softens slightly. "You don't? I can help you remember, Pace. The people here.. they're not forgiving. Maybe more than the Order at least, but there are gangs here, no rules. Murder is something that's-- that's frequent. You need help. I can help you. Please."

His gaze slides away from her before going back, and she's unnerved that he's staring right into her scope. He knows her, she realizes. Whether he's good or evil, she doesn't know, but he knows her, she's sure of it. She doesn't know him, but it's a good place to start, right?

She clicks on the safety and lowers the charger reluctantly, chest heaving. "I don't--I can't trust you."

“I understand that, Pace," Eging says. "And trust is a shaky thing here too. I only have pretty much one friend and he's brainwashed too so that's...pretty  unhelpful now that I think of it."

She doesn't know why she thinks it's funny, but her mouth hurts all of a sudden and he offers her a hesitant grin. "Hey, you're smiling."

“I am?" She touches her face. She's almost forgotten how to smile these days. It's mostly fear and confusion that rule her days now, not happiness.

Kill him.

She forces the sanitized part of her to shut up. She doesn't want to kill this guy unless he tries to jump her first. She keeps a hand on her Splatterscope just in case.

“Were you with Emperor and Prince by any chance? Do you know where they are? Or do you remember them at least?"

She hesitates. How much should she tell him? He knows their names, and judging by the mounting concern and desperation in his eyes, he was close to them too. But if she tells the truth, would he break? Would he refuse to help her now that they're gone?

She grapples with herself for a moment. Everything's so confusing and wrong right now.

"They're gone." She speaks before the goo can urge her to, emotion filling her chest.

“What do you mean by gone?" Eging looks like he's about to cry, scream, punch her in the face. She readies her charger just in case. "Pace. What does that mean?"

She's a bit wary now. He's obviously on edge and extremely volatile. It's dangerous. But it could be her only hope.

“Emperor... he-- he took sanitation instead of Prince and me. I was partly sanitized as a warning--"

The goo residue on the side of her face burns all of a sudden and she drops her charger with a clatter, clutching her head. Eging starts forward, concern written so openly, she wants to tell him to get as far away as he can from her. "Pace! Are you okay?"

No. No, she's not okay. Her mind--

She can feel Tartar take control and panic seizes her. Tartar knows where she is. It knows and it's going to control her--

Her hand shoots out and grabs the end of the Splatterscope, whipping the butt of it towards Eging, who barely manages to leap out of the way, eyes filled with horror. "What the-- oh cod, it's controlling you."

She can't speak. She only can watch as her body lunges forward against her will, lashing out with the Splatterscope in sharp, quick movements. Time with the Order has honed her speed and accuracy and it's only enhanced with Tartar's control, but Eging is somehow faster. She's thankful for that, because she doesn't need his blood on her hands when she's so close to figuring out who she is. 

The other Inkling dodges her strikes easily, like it's something he was born to do, and something about his movements jogs her memory.

We were kings, monarchs. Not real monarchs, though. What were we the monarchs of?

Tartar forces her to lift her Splatterscope to Eging who's perched on a nearby structure. A shot of turquoise ink and he vanishes from view, returning over the side, producing his own weapon, reminding her that no one went unarmed. The sight of it gives her backlash and Tartar's control relinquishes for a few seconds.

Golden ink. We were the turf monarchs, weren't we? Four years... until--

The Clash Blaster explodes in a burst of golden ink, the explosion knocking her back. The ink damage clears her mind even further.

Until Blue Team. Until everything. Until that Splatfest.

She can feel Tartar's presence draining away and a second explosion erases it completely. She drops her weapon when Eging draws close again, eyes wary. "Eging. It's me."

His eyes widen and a smile splits his face, and she remembers. She remembers. He drops the Clash Blaster too and hurls forward. She closes her eyes, expecting him to smack her or something, but a pair of arms instead wrap around her. 

“Thank cod, Pace.” His voice is slightly muffled by her tentacles and she leans forward into the embrace, tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. “Thank cod.”

“Emperor and Prince...” she manages when they pull away. 

Eging nods slightly. His expression is hard with determination, and she recognizes it on him like she did so many years ago. “We’ll find them. Bring them back.”

Find. That word sends some anxiety through her. “Tartar knows where I am.”

He glances to her, eyebrows raised. “The sanitation?”

She nods, chewing on her bottom lip. 

“Well, shit. We gotta move then.”

“No, you don’t understand,” she says, catching him by the sleeve. “They’ll kill me. They’ll kill you.”

“We’re in Chaos territory, Pace.” Eging tilts his head. “The Order can’t come in here.”

“Then Chaos’ll kill us. You for helping me. Me for being part of the Order. I—I need to go.”

“You can’t go back there,” Eging protests. “And I can’t leave you behind. Whatever we face now, we face together, alright?”

There’s a faint noise behind him and he turns, raising his Clash Blaster. “Who’s there?”

There’s no response; it’s eerily quiet now. 

Eging exchanges glances with her, who now has picked up her weapon as well. Tense, they both head towards the source of the noise, carefully moving across the broken sidewalk. 

Eging checks behind the wall and pops his head out from the spot. “There’s no one there.”

“No one?”

And that’s as far as she gets before the skies explode with gunfire.