I kneel down next to the first kettle. It hadn’t taken me long to find it. #1 and #2 have already left for Inkopolis and Captain Cuttlefish stands at my side.
“What’s waiting for me Captain?” I ask him seriously.
“Well, squido…” he says, “Octotroopers.”
Octotroopers. The standard soldier in their army. They aren’t all that tough, even when there’s five of them against one. They were the first enemy I had to learn about in training.
“That’s it?” I ask, feeling a bit more confident about this than before.
“A lot of them.”
“Oh… how many is a lot?”
“Not sure, bucko. You’ll need to keep on your toes though, and be careful.”
“Don’t worry. I will be.” I have no plan to take unnecessary chances with this. It’s my first mission and I am not going to screw it up.
So, I step onto the kettle and wave good bye to the Captain. “I’ll keep in touch, kid. I’ll be your guide through this, ok?”
“I’m counting on you.” I say and enter the kettle.
When I get down there it starts off pretty simple. I’m on top of an old building and can see the tops of others. A launch pad waits for me and I take it.
My feet touch ground on another roof. I see about three octos and a lot of boxes. I take them out swiftly. Next up comes a trooper with a shielding item. He is still a piece of cake.
I jump to the next roof. There are three guys waiting. They have higher ground and I’m forced to hide, using a sneak attack. It’s all pretty easy, though. I’m not sure what the Captain was thinking when he said a lot.
I take another jump. I land and begin to look around. I see nothing of interest. No Octos or anything. Suspicious.
“Cc, there’s no one around. It’s pretty quiet down here.” I tell him through my headset. I hear his voice come back, loud and clear.
“Don’t let that trip you up, squido. Keep your eyes peeled and your weapon ready.”
“Understood, Captain.” Cautiously, I begin going forward. My Hero Shot is at the ready and I keep a look out for any sign of movement.
I walk for five minutes, unopposed. Then I come to a small, circular pool of ink. It’s about two feet in diameter. “Captain?”
“Oy, what’s up Bucko?”
“I’ve found a launch pad. I can’t tell where it’s destination is, but it probably leads to an ambush. Do I take it, or no?”
“Anything else around?” I take a glance at my surroundings then reply with a negative. “Well then, I think it’s your only option. Be ready. Like you said, it’s most likely an ambush.”
“Roger that.” I step onto it and transform into my little squid form. It sucks me in then makes me do a forced super jump. I hate these launch pads because I’m not in control of my self during the jumps. It makes me feel vulnerable.
Midway through, I can come out of squid and back to kid. My feet hit the ground hard. I barely have time to look up before the dark ink hits me.
I gasp. This is different than in turf wars and ranked battles. It actually hurts a little while in our games it just feels sticky. I’m forced to back up, but I just step in more of the stuff.
The captain is basically yelling in my ear. “Are you ok?! Bucko, what’s going on?! Hey!” It’s very distracting.
“SHUT UP OR I’M GONNA BE KILLED!” I shout back. I throw a splat bomb at my feet and shoot the nearest Octotrooper. I get lucky. My bomb goes off just in time and has given me a place to stand, but I’m surrounded. Taking them out is easy. However, for each I splat, more come to replace it.
“Captain!” I call, “You have our maps linked correct? Woah!” I dodge some ink.
“Where’s the nearest, accessible, high place?”
“Let me see…” I fight off my enemies, hoping the Captain will be quick. “Ten feet forward, six feet left. There’s a tower.”
“I’m heading for it!” I take out a couple of enemies behind me and hide in my ink. I back away from the group. How I’m going to get around them is beyond me, but I’m fortunate that they have lost my trail for moment.
It’s not going to last long. They are covering my ink and I’m gonna be found. I’m about to panic, when I see a crate. Something #2 told me comes to my mind.
“One of our former agents had the tendency to hide weapon specials in crates around the valley.” She had said, “We have no clue where they are, but sometimes we find them. Keep your eyes out in a sticky situation. His strange habit has been our salvation in the past and may be yours in the future.”
I dare to hope. Coming out of my ink, I make a dash for the crate. When I smash it I find a bubbler. Relief washes over me until a glob of ink hits my back.
“Ungh?!” I grab the bubbler, open it, jam the item into the special activator in my gun, and pull the trigger. The shield swiftly expands and wraps around my whole body. I am now encased in the protective bubble.
I have to move before it wares off. I turn and, with renewed confidence charge into the enemy line. I take out many of them, clearing a path to the cliff as I go. I make it up the wall just before my bubble bursts.
The tower leads to a small platform and I crawl onto it. I lay down, resting before I go back into combat. Fortunately, Octotroopers cannot climb.
“Captain…” I moan into the headset. I’m hurting a bit, “I made it to the spot.”
“Thank goodness! Are you hurt?”
“No. I’m fine.” I lie, “I located a bubbler and managed to survive.” I peer over the edge of the platform, “Now, though, I’m a bit trapped. What do I do?”
“Er… just sit tight for a moment and I’ll contact the girls.”
“No. Don’t do that. I’ll figure it out without bothering them.”
“Yeah… just give me a moment to think.” I tell him, “There aren’t anymore weapons around, are there?”
“Sorry, I wouldn’t know.”
“That’s ok. I’m gonna see if I can take any of them out from up here.” I lean over the edge and take aim with my gun. Unfortunately I can only get the ones right next to the tower. “Grrr… where’s my Splatter Scope when I need it?” I mutter. Next option, is my splat bombs.
I throw one, refill my ink tank, and come up just in time to see a group of octos burst. Not enough though. I need to clear all of them. If I could get behind the group…
A taller tower catches my eye. If I could just jump to it I could get behind them, but it might be too far. I bite my lip, ink the wall, and take the plunge. I am just barely clinging to the wall and scared of falling. As fast as I can, I swim up to the top.
A small box waits me there. Hoping for another special, I open it. All that is contained is a rolled up piece of paper. It’s sealed. My first thought is “this is weird” then I wonder if it’s possibly a Octarian form of communication. I shove the paper into my pocket to read later.
Carefully, I look over the edge of the small tower. If I fall it will be bad. I drop one of my bombs down and watch as it splatters the ground with my ink. If I can land in it I’ll be fine. If not… an image of a hospital room comes to my mind.
I take a deep breath before jumping. For me falling is terrifying. I hate it and always have. I’m told it’s because I fell off of a ladder when I was little. I wasn’t hurt because dad caught me, but still.
It takes a lot of effort to jump, but I do it. I also manage to not scream. There is a bit of a splash thing when I land and I take a second to enjoy being not dead.
Then I pop up and attack the Octotroopers. It’s much easier because they have their backs turned to me and their reaction time is PA-THE-TIC… Mine isn’t that great either, but theirs is worse.
Well, I manage to eliminate quite a few before they can get their bearings. By that time, the ground is mostly my color. I have the advantage.
The enemy ink hurts me, but I’m sure my ink hurts them more. In fifteen minutes I am the only living thing standing there. Everything is an inky mess, including myself. Suddenly, a voice disturbs the quiet.
“Bucko! #3 are you ok?!”
“Captain! Captain I’m fine. I’m ok.”
“Thank goodness! When everything went quiet I thought…”
“All is good down here.” I report and look at my map, “I’ve cleared the area of octos. All that’s left is for you to direct me to the little Zapfish around here.”
“You got it, kid. Let me see here…” Through the com link, he took me to a way inside the building that I’m standing on. The place is old and dilapidated. Down. Down. Down I go, into the dark basement. From a corner a light shines.
I walk over to it. I move the old books and cartons. There, tucked away, are three, small Zapfish. A smile crosses my face.
“Captain.” I say, “I have found the Zapfish and are bringing them home. I’ll be at the kettle in an hour.”