He stepped out into the plaza. He couldn’t believe it. Just like the news said, the Great Zapfish was back on Inkopolis tower.
He wondered where it had gone and how it got back. He wondered about the flying saucer that had been sighted. He wondered, but didn’t understand.
The boy shook his head, “I guess we’ll never know, Clam. Just like with Splat, we’ll never know where the Zapfish went. Let’s just be glad it’s back.”
“I wish we could say the same about Splat.”
The boy looked at his friend fiercely. “She’s not going to come back. She left years ago. Get over it, Clam.” The two boys turned and headed for the lobby.
A low moan escapes my lips. My eyes flutter open. I see ceiling tiles and lights. Weakly, I look around me. There is a monitor connected to one of my hands and an I.V. in the other.
I lay among the folds of soft blankets. My head rests on a comfortable pillow. It feels wonderful.
The door opens and a woman in white clothes walks in. She looks at me, then smiles broadly. “You finally woke up.” I don’t say anything. “You’ve been sleeping for a long time.”
“Where am I?” I ask. My voice is scratchy and my throat hurts.
“A hospital in Inkopolis.” Is the answer, “You can thank the Squid Sisters for bringing you here. They found you all beat up in some alley. They got you here as quick as possible.”
It takes me a moment to understand why that lie was told. Then it hits me. I’m part of the secret agency. No one can know what really happened.
A sudden thought strikes me. “I- I should be dead! I died! Why am I- how am I-?!”
“Calm down! You’re too weak to get all worked up,” the nurse tells me, “You’re heart did stop for a moment, but you’re ok now. You have been healing fine and will be back to normal soon. Just rest for now.” She pulls the covers up to my chin and dims the lights.
“Miss,” I say before she leaves, “The Squid Sisters, will they…?”
“They said that they’ll be here this afternoon. Also, some sea urchin is coming too. Now you get to sleep.”
The lady exits the room and I try to rest.
When I awaken, Callie and Marie are sitting next to my bed. Captain Cuttlefish and Spyke are having a quiet conversation near the window.
“Hello, #1, #2.”
“#3!” Callie exclaims and throws her arms around me.
“Ungh!? Hey, take it easy girl. You’ll stop my heart again,” I laugh lightly.
“Sorry!” She sits up, but holds my hand. Spyke and the Captain are at my bedside now.
“‘ow do you feelin’, Love?”
“… besides the pain in my side, very comfortable. But I don’t understand… how I’m alive.”
“Well,” Marie begins, “You’re alive thanks to somebody we don’t know. We tried to find whoever it was, but couldn’t. They ran up behind you in a bubbler at tapped you. It spread so that you were also encased in a bubbler. Then whoever it was dashed off and left the saucer before I could see their face.” We are quiet for a time.
“Splat,” Cuttlefish says, breaking the science, “Thank you.”
Three weeks pass. I’m let out of the hospital, but am told to take it easy. So, of course, I go straight to Octo valley. Each day I go down to one of the areas that I cleared and just sit for hours.
On one of these days, I am walking through old ruins, trying to find a good spot to chill. A noise behind me makes me stop. I whip around.
“Please don’t hurt me!” The octoling exclaims, holding up her hands in defense.
I study the girl, my sniper gun at the ready. She is dressed like an Octarian soldier, minus the mask. Her clothes are ragged and her face dirty. She has short tentacles, weary eyes, and looks like she hasn’t had a proper meal in a long time.
I lower my gun. My mind goes back years, to the time I was starving on the streets of Inkopolis. “What… happened to you?”
“I’ve been living on my own for a year. I’ve been abandoned by my family and I’m going to die if I don’t get something to eat. I know that you are naturally hostile towards my kind, but please! Please help me.”
I look the girl over. She’s seems my age. “They won’t like it if I help you, but…” I reach into my bag and pull out my lunch. I hold it out to her. “Here. Take it a go. You don’t want to be found here.”
She takes the box slowly and opens it. The Octo swallows hard. “Thank you! Oh thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Good bye.”
“Bye.” The Octo turns and dashes off. I watch her go, wondering what will become of the poor thing.
That night I return home and go straight to bed. It’s dark out. Spyke is asleep. A crash wakes me.
I sit up in bed, startled. Carefully I listen. Someone is in the kitchen. I grab my hero shot and leave my room.
I am quite as a mouse. Through the living room and to the kitchen. I can see the silhouette of someone that isn’t Spyke. Quickly I click on the light.
The Octoling from earlier spins around. She has a bag and an old gun, but makes no move to use the weapon. We stare at each other.
“What are you doing here?” I demand.
“I’m sorry!” The girl cries, “I followed you here! I need food… and I wanted to return this.” She reaches into her bag and pulls out my lunch box.
“So, you broke into our home?”
“Er… yes…?” She answers shyly.
I have mixed emotions. “You know, if I wasn’t a thief myself, I would be mad at you for stealing. However, I don’t think I have much room to talk on the subject.”
She smiles a little. Hesitantly, the girl says, “You are agent #3… I have been… um… watching you, sort of.”
“Now you’re a stalker. Great.”
“Please don’t be mad! I did it for good reason. And if I hadn’t, you’d probably be dead!”
I stare. “It was you. You saved me from all the Octarians when I was in the valley. You told me to move and sent the rocket at Octavio. You’re the one with the bubbler. You… you saved my life.”
The girl nods. “That was me… look,” she takes a deep breath, “I don’t like what the Octarian army does. I don’t want to work for them anymore. For the past year, I have been trying to find out a way to join you Inklings, but I didn’t know how. When I saw you… I decided that the way I would do it is through you. I thought you, if anyone, could make the agency understand.”
“Why me?” I ask, “Why not the others?”
“They would shoot me on sight, I’m sure of it,” she tells me confidently, “The night I saw you for the first time you reminded me of myself. You were alone and you asked a question I frequently ask myself. ‘Was it right?’. Logic told me that you would be my only way to join you.”
“…how do I know you aren’t just a spy?”
“My parents are dead because of them!” The girl growls, “And so is my sister. She was nine years old and she was killed for their cause. I would never spy for them. I will die before I do anything to support them again!”
We both fall quiet. I try to take in what she has said. Both her parents… and her sister… dead. It could be a lie…
I look at her face. She’s not lying. A liar could never look so deeply pained. This girl is telling the truth.
“My name is Splat. I believe you.”
“R-really?! Oh, thank you! I’m Cirrina.”
“Nice to meet you. Let’s get something to eat while we think of a way to make you an agent.”
The Octoling is extremely happy and grateful. We fix some sandwiches and are just sitting down when Spyke comes into the room.
He takes one look at us then says, “Do I even want to ask?”