“I don’t know, Love…”
“Please! I have nowhere else to go and you said yourself that you could use an assistant.”
“I’m startin’ to regret sayin’ it.”
“I’ll do everything you tell me to. Just, don’t put me on the streets again.”
“… fine. On two conditions. One. You need to work hard and earn your keep.”
“Two. No one can know I’m caring for you or that you work for me. Understand? I ‘ave a reputation.”
“Can’t let anyone know that you have a heart eh? Hee hee! Don’t worry! Your secret is safe with me. Thank you so much. I promise, I’ll work hard and tell no one!”
“All right, Love. Welcome to your new home.”
“Spyke!” I call as arrive at our house and enter through the front door, “I got the coat! Exactly like she wanted too.”
“Very good Love.” He says as I enter the dining room, “Let me see. You eat. Your dinner’s nearly cold.” I sit at the table and he examines my find. “Noice, Love. I’m proud of you. Where’d ya get it?”
“Nicked it from a bag of clothes some chick was taking to a thrift shop. She won’t even miss it.” I smirk.
“You’re wonderful at this.” Notes Spyke, “Soon you’ll be able to move up a scale and do weapon jobs for me.”
I smile and eat. After a few moments I say, “I gotta admit, when I left home, I didn’t expect to be here… four years later? Yeah, four.”
“I didn’t expect it either Love,” he tells me, “Didn’t fink I’d ever get an assistant actually.”
“I could see why you’d think like that,” I admit. “No one really wants to steal for a living, except you and me, apparently.”
“Right, Love. Hurry and finish your food. I got some deliveries fer you to do tomorrow and you’ll need sleep.” He stands and leaves the room with the jacket.
“Yes, Spyke.” I eat quietly then slip to my room. It’s nice. Spyke had cleaned out so that I’d have my own space. Before, he used it for storage.
I lie down on my bed and begin to think. Four years ago was when I got abandoned by dad. Now I’m a thief living with an older thief. “I don’t think dad wanted this…” I murmur to myself, “This isn’t how he thought that this was gonna go… I wonder… if he had known… would he still have sent me here…?” I sigh and turn over. It does not take me long to fall asleep.
I awaken to Spyke saying my name softly. “Hey, Love. It’s time to get to work.”
“What time is it?” I ask sleepily.
“Six in the morning, Love. For a farm child you sure sleep late.”
“Ehh… no one asked you.” I scowl as I roll over.
He chuckles and pulls me into a sitting position. Spyke picks out some fresh clothes for me, tells me to get dressed and to be ready to go in fifteen minutes, then leaves my room.
I groan, but do as he’s ordered me. The shirt is a black long sleeve and the boots match the color. He always has me wear dark colors for deliveries unless there’s no time to change.
Once ready, I go to the kitchen. “Ok, so who am I meeting this time?” I ask him as I take a piece of toast that he’s prepared.
“A girl,” he replies, “She ordered that coat plus another shirt. Need you to deliver them for me.”
“She said to meet her in Black Belly Skate Park. Here’s the package. Try to get there in good time, ok?”
“Ok.” I nod. Before long I’m on my way. The package in one hand, toast in the other, and my Splatter Scope on my back. It’s a cool morning and I’m grateful that Spyke picked out a long sleeve shirt for me.
I walk quickly, arriving a few minutes earlier than the appointed time. There are no battles taking place at the moment so I go to the center tower to wait. From there, I can see most of the stage.
Just as I’m finishing off my toast there’s a sharp laugh behind me. I look around. There stands a girl with light blue tentacles and an ink brush.
“Sorry. I didn’t hear you come up,” I tell her.
“Spyke told me that I would be meeting his assistant, but,” the girl begins, “YOU? I wondered what had happened to you, however, I didn’t expect this.”
I stare. That voice is one I recognize. “C- Coral?!”
“Oh, the pathetic remembers me.” She smirks. Her words still hurt. “How nice. So where’s my package?”
“Right here.” I stand and hand it to her. “That will be…”
She cuts me off. “Nothing.”
“Wha- hey!” Coral is leaving. I follow her. “You have to pay up!”
“Ummm…. no. Actually, let’s do the opposite. Give me your gun, cash, and that necklace.”
I back away. She’s still way stronger than I am, I can tell. “N-no! No way!”
“Then I think I’ll take them from you.” She turns on me and makes a grab for my locket. I jump out of the way, then run. She chases after me.
“Y- you can have the shirt and jacket! Leave me alone!” I have no desire to fight with this girl that I could never over power.
“Why should I?” She asks, “You’d steal from me. Can’t I steal from you.” I run harder.
Before I know it I’ve made it to the Plaza. No one is in sight. At first I think to run to Spyke, but he isn’t there. I hear Coral behind me. Then I spot the weird, old guy’s grate. My last hope. I squid through it.
I’m not sure what I expect to find, but what is really there is not it. I basically go from panic to chaos. A fight is going on.
A girl that seems familiar from forever ago is there along with another chick and the weird guy. They’re up against five strange looking kids in masks.
“Gramps, get out of here!” The second girl gasps, “Agh!” Her weapon is knocked from her hands. I can see that the other girl is unarmed. Making a quick decision, I take aim and shoot one of the kids attacking the old man. They’re gone in an instant.
The girl I think I met previously looks up and recognizes me. “You?!” She cries, “That’s the one I kept telling you about, #2!”
“Noice timing #3.” The second girl gasps as she dodges an attack. I shoot the attacker. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.” I tell her.
“A new squid in town, eh?” Says one of the kids as they turn to attack me, “No problem!” They charge me. I’m not prepared for up close combat. Fortunately the second girl is and she comes to my defense.
“Oh, no you don’t, Octo.” The girl splats the kid and I take out another going after the first chick.
There is now only one left and they are retreating. The girl I remember takes them out swiftly. Then she turns and grins at me.
I gasp, “Black Belly Skate Park, three years ago!”
“Hey, she remembers!” The girl laughs before becoming serious again, “You ok, gramps?”
“Fine.” The old man pants.
“What about you?”
“I’m ok.” Says the second one, “That… was close.”
“Yeah…” suddenly the first smiles at the second, “I told you that girl would be the one!”
“You couldn’t have known for sure. She’d never even heard of this place.”
“Um, excuse me.” I interrupt knowing that they mean me, “Sorry, what are you talking about?”
“You, Agent #3.” The girl from before tells me, “I told them that you would find your way here, but they didn’t believe me. Anyway, you can call me Agent #1. She’s my cousin, Agent #2. That’s Captain Cuttlefish.”
I’m bewildered. “Wait. Wait. Slow down. Agent?” I repeat her, “I’m not an agent. I’m just a normal-“
“Thief apparently.” #2 says.
I stare. “How… how…”
“#1 has been watching you.” The Captain tells me, “And thinks you’re good enough to join us. Which I agree, now.”
“Wait. Hold up… I’m not joining anything.” I inform the agents, “I have a job to do.”
“You have a job all right. To protect Inkopolis.” Frowns #1.
“Come and sit down and we’ll explain.” Cuttlefish suggests, “Please don’t leave until you’ve heard what we have to say.”
I think for a moment, wondering what I should do. Then the menacing faces of those kids come to my mind. “Ok.”
They lead me to a strange shack. It looks like a home, but not a good one. We sit down in old chairs and then #2 begins to explain.
“Those kids who were attacking us are known as Octolings. They work for the Octarian army and are led by DJ Octavio.”
“The Octarians,” #1 tells me, “have been at war with us Inklings for years. However, the war has gone underground. Most of Inkopolis has forgotten about the war and if you asked the average squid on the street, they would not be able to tell you what an Octarian is.”
“The…” #2 hesitates, “three of us are the only ones fighting the war right now.”
“Wait.” I say again, “Just you three against an army?!” They nod sadly.
“We’ve held them off, but we need help.” Admits #2, “If we don’t get it, all of the Inkling nation is doomed…. That’s why we need you. You can help us. I know you can.”
“How could I help?” I ask, “I’m… pathetic.” It hurts to repeat the words that Coral had said to me, but they’re true. I steal for a living. I ran instead of fought. Coral is right.
“Now listen to me squido.” Captain Cuttlefish says sternly, “I don’t care who you are, what level you are, or whether or not you can use a gun. You. Are. Not. Pathetic. No one is. And whoever put that thought in your mind deserves to be whacked upside the noggin.”
I smile a little at his expression.
“Gramps is right.” #2 adds, “Also, you just saved our lives and Inkopolis. That’s the closest they’ve ever gotten to the city. You stopped them. You saved the day this morning.”
“Yeah, you did. And we’ll need you to help us do it again. Will you join us? Please?” Begs #1.
My mind spins. So much could depend on my answer. On one hand there’s Spyke and my job for him. On the other, the fate of Inkopolis. A war? I can’t imagine what what it will be like. Fighting for my life. Protecting the city. If I don’t… who will? My choose is made.
“Of course I will.” I say. The three light up with excitement. “This is too important to ignore. I have to join.”
“This is great!” #1 exclaims, “Oh, and don’t worry. You can still stay and work for Spyke.”
“It’s truly wonderful.” Agrees the Captain, then says, “Welcome aboard, Agent #3.”