#1: The Start Of A Long Walk

He carries my weak and tired body to a safe place. I need help. That fight was too much for me on my own. Fortunately he came in at the last moment, but… it might have been too late. I feel myself slipping away. I might not be truly saved from… death without regeneration.

He glances over his shoulder at me then repositions my body so that I don’t slip. “Hold on,” he tells me, “We’re almost to a safe area. Are you feeling any better?”

“No.” I say weakly.

“Don’t worry. You will be fine.” Arriving at a small shelter, he sets me down, pulls out a rag, and begins wiping off the Octarian ink. “How long have you been out here?”

I think back, but my memories are foggy. “I dunno… three, no, four days?”

He looks a bit surprised. “Wow, I’m glad I found you. You better rest up. It’s a long way back to the surface.” He sits down across from me, the small shelter hiding us from any unwanted eyes. “I doubt we should stay here for long,” he notes quietly, “let’s wait for dark.”

I look about the place and then at him. He’s got green tentacles and is dressed in agent garb. So he’s with the agency… but I’ve never seen him before. Neither #1 nor #2 have mentioned him. He’s too skilled to be a newbie agent. Wait… #1 and #2!

“H-how are #1 and #2?” I ask. They had been with me, but we got separated. I don’t know what happened to them.

He smiles reassuringly. “Don’t worry about them,” he tells me, “They got out. They would have come to get you out, but they had to deal with some sudden attacks from some Octostrikes. So they sent me instead.”

I nod. “Ok.” I feel myself slipping farther away. I want to go to sleep.

“Wait… do you hear something?” Looking around for whatever grabbed his attention, he peers out of the shelter while reaching for his Splattershot. The guy glances back at me and sees me falling unconscious. “HEY!” He shouts to me. My eyes fly open. “Focus! You need to stay awake.” He hands me his Splattershot. “Take this. I need to look around.” Sternly he adds, “You better be aware of your surroundings when I get back.”

I hold the gun loosely. I can’t grip it. “Please don’t.” I moan. Then I say the only thing I can think of that might make him stay, “I’m gonna die.”

“What?!” He cries. I don’t think he realized previously how hurt I actually am… and he certainly doesn’t know about… the boy interrupts my thoughts, “Ok. New plan. We need to get you to the Captain.”

Hoisting me onto his back and taking gun in hand, he starts carrying me down the old abandoned street. He’s trying so hard to save me. Risking so much for a girl that he doesn’t know. It… isn’t right.

“Just leave me.” I tell him, “If we’re attacked out here, we won’t stand a chance. Go.”

“Hey now,” he frowns at me over his shoulder, “I don’t travel half a day looking for a lost inkling just to turn up with a dead body. My task is to bring home a missing agent and that’s what I’m… DUCK!”

Ink from an Octosniper narrowly misses us. Dragging me to cover, he pulls out his Splattershot and fires a short burst. “Who am I kidding? He’s way out of range!”

I force myself to focus and look about. I soon recognize the place. This is where I lost it. “Run around the corner,” I order, “to the left, about two feet ahead. I lost my gun there. It should be powerful enough.”

“Um. Ok!” He carries me around the corner, looking for the weapon. “To the left?”

“Yes.” Another shot whizzes past us frightened kids. He puts me behind a wall so that he’ll take most of the fire.

“Hold tight.” He says, “I’ll get the gun.” He makes a dive for the weapon and a sprint for cover. When he returns to my side, the boy looks over my Fresh Squiffer. “Clean, good power, well maintained, nice!”

I smile a little. My friend will be glad to hear that her work has been approved. The feeling of wanting to sleep comes over me again.

Another shot, this time dead on. Thankfully there’s a barrier between him and the octopus. The boy looks at me. “You holding on? Hey! Talk to me!”

I open my eyes again. “I’m tired…” I moan then add, “and scared.” A shudder runs through my body.

“That’s ok.” The boy tells me softly, “I’m scared too.” As the next shot flies over the kids’ heads, he pops up from behind the wall and fires a quick burst. “Did I get him?” He asks as he ducks back down,

“I didn’t see.”

“I don’t know…”

Again a shot flies over head. “Guess not.” This time, he took careful aim before squeezing the trigger. A satisfying splat is heard a moment later. “Yes! Got ’em!”

“Yay… I feel bad.” I expect him to be irritated by my constant complaints, but he isn’t.

“I know,” the boy tells me patiently, “You’re wounded. I wouldn’t expect you to feel good, but we should not stay here. Something may have heard the fight.” Picking me up in his arms, he hurries down the road.

I shut my eyes. I can’t see him now, but I feel his gaze on me. “When was the last time you slept?” I hear him ask me.

“… I… I don’t know… I couldn’t sleep due to pain and fear.”

“Where are you hurt?”

“I’m not sure where I got hit. The pain is all over.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why we’re you and agents #1 and #2 out here?”

I suddenly realize what he’s doing. This boy is keeping me talking and my mind working so that I don’t fall asleep. He knows if I sleep now, I won’t wake later. Still, I begin to answer his question.

“We were looking for my… my…” Tears come to my eyes at the memory.

“Hey, hey! It’s ok. Don’t tell me if you don’t want to.” I don’t think he knows how to deal with crying girls and would rather avoid that situation. I’ve started telling him, however, and am determined to finish. This kid seems like he would care if I told him. After a moment, I continue.

“We were looking for my brother. We heard a rumor that my bro turned rogue. Also, a friend was taken captive by Octarians.”

“Oh… I’m… sorry to hear that… wow.” After a while of silence and walking, he looks around at our surroundings. “It’s getting late. We won’t be able to get to the outpost till’ tomorrow. I know a place where we can be safe.”

“Ok…” I feel weaker than ever. Talking of my brother has drained me, both physically and emotionally. I rest my head on his chest and hope I can sleep.

We walk for half an hour to a building that looks very very old. He carries me inside and up a flight of steps to a room. I am vaguely aware of my surroundings, but I manage to see that the place is filled with weapons and a variety of provisions and survival gear. Also, tucked away in the corner, is a bed.

He lays me down on the bed and covers me with a blanket. “Rest now.” He tells me gently, “We need to get your strength up.”

I murmur under my breath, so that I am barely audible, “I wish I could have seen my bro once more.” This will be where I die. I know it. Between the wounds and poison… there’s no way I can live. At least I get to sleep, though… I shut my eyes and this time, he does not shout at me to keep me awake.