Once we are all back in the mission room, we relax. I didn’t realize how tense everyone was and I don’t think they realized it either. A couple of us collapse into chairs others lean against walls or just stand. Mud and #2 leave the room for a few minutes.
“Wow,” #6 gasps. “That was intense.”
“Oh, yeah it was,” agrees #5.
When the other two return, #2 looks to #4. “You ok kiddo? I know you’re a bit soft at times.”
#4 stiffens. “I’m fine, #2.” He sounds like a kid reassuring his mom. “I’m tougher than I look, ya know?”
She smiles a little. “I know.”
“What about you, #3?” asks Mud. “You good?”
I nod. I’m actually surprised that I’m not more bothered by what Mud did. The thing that really bothered me was what Ryder- RYAN- told me.
There is a moment of quiet. After we’ve caught our breath and regained our senses, it’s time to get back to work.
“Ok,” Marie says. “We should get going then. #4, #5, and #6, can you two get Ryan portable? Remember, we’re taking him with us. You three also.”
#6 nods and the three agents move back into the room where the prisoner is. Mud stretches.
“Cool,” he yawns. “Say ‘hi’ to Grandpa for me when you get back.”
“Will do!” grins #1, “We’ll see you guys later.” #1 and #2 follow the other three agents, leaving me and Mud alone.
The boy looks over to me. “Now, we should get ready.”
I nod. “I need to get my weapon from the bedroom.”
As the others head out to Inkopolis, Mud and I prepare for the up coming mission.
Mud looks over his wall of weapons. I sit nearby, polishing my Splatterscope.
“I think I’ll take my Hero Shot,” he says absently. “What about you?”
“My Splatterscope.” I aim at a fake enemy with it. The scope lens is still dirty. “Hey…” I begin, slightly hesitant, “just curious, you told #1 to say ‘hi’ to your grandpa. Do you have much family in Inkopolis?”
The boy glances at me in surprise. “I thought you would have guessed by now. Captain Cuttlefish is my grandpa.”
“I kinda thought so,” I admit, “but I wasn’t sure.”
“Understandable. Do you have everything you need?” he asks. I check my gear and weapon quickly.
“Yeah, I’m good.”
“Good.” He smiles and sits down next to me. “Then let’s go over the plan. We’ll go through the tunnels and right underneath the fort. We should pop up in the middle of the prison, but, after that, I’m not really sure where to go. Once we find your friend, we make our way to the factory and make a distraction. Then go to the power plant and free the Great Zaplfish. Make sense?”
I give a firm nod. “Perfectly.”
“Fantastic! Then let’s get going!” He stands and helps me to my feet. Together, we make our way down into one of the tunnels and we start going through it. We use flashlights to light the way.
After a moment of quiet, Mud speaks. “So,” he begins, “what’s the story behind your friend anyway?”
I smile softly at the memory. “She saved my life. You said I single handedly defeated Dj Octavio… well that’s not really true. #2 helped me some, but I mostly got aid from a mystery person. I would have died without that help. Later, I was in the valley and I met an Octoling. She was dirty and starving. I gave her some food. That night she followed me home and broke into the kitchen!”
“She what?!” Mud laughs.
“I know, right? She broke into the kitchen so that she could return my lunch box and ask me to help her find a place in the agency. She told me that her siblings abandoned her and that her parents and sister died because the Octarian Army. So, she rebelled and joined us. Now she’s one of us and lives with me and Spyke.”
“So she’s a traitor. Turn right” He points to a fork in the tunnel. “Then she would be in cell block D. Good to know.”
I nod as I follow his directions. “So….” I say slowly, “are you a brother to Callie or Marie, or are they just your cousins?”
“Just cousins. The whole agency thing was like a family business until you joined.”
“I see.” I stretch as I walk. “Oh, by the way, do they know I know who the really are? I think they do their best to not let us know… their best isn’t very good.”
Mud grins. “Oh no, it’s fine. I’ve talked to them about it. It’s no big deal. Left here.” We make a turn. “You just can’t tell anyone about me, especially if you get captured.”
“I see. Ok.”
We are quiet for a little while. When Mud talks again, his tone is cold and serious.
“I understand that you and the other agents were wondering if I was a double agent for a while.” He looks at me from the corner of his eyes.
I redden a little in embarrassment. “Yeah. We were…. sorry about that.”
They boy lightens up. “Pfff. Don’t worry about it. Make a left here.”
Soon we come to a shaft that goes straight up. Together we look up.
“This is it. We are beneath the fort. This shaft should open up in the prison.”
“This is where the danger zone begins.” I shoulder my gun. “Welp, lets do it.”
We climb to the top, Mud going first. A man hole covers the gap, but it lifts with ease. Mud peaks out, to see where we are.
“See anything?” I ask from bellow my teammate.
“We’re in the right place,” he tells me happily. “Man, I love it when I get it on the first try! But… wha? We have a wee problem. Climb up and take a look.” He moves over so that he only has one foot and one hand on the ladder. I climb up the ladder next to him.
What I see is disheartening. The floor of the prison is covered in purply pink ink. The entire floor.
“Looks like they are using flooder machines in here. Clever,” he admits with a smirk. “We’ll need to shoot our way around the place, but we need to do it quietly. Too much noise will attract the guards.”
I nod. He’s right. “Yeah. Which of our weapons is quieter?”
“Hard to say. If we just be careful we should be fine.” He moves the man hole cover aside and fires a few shots for a place to stand. Then he climbs out. He leans down and helps me up to. “Here we go.”
The prison is a large complex with long straight halls with no windows. The cells have no bars or doors, but invisible walls are between us and the prisoners.
“This place is awful,” I note quietly. I really don’t like this place.
As he shoots a path through the ink, Mud says, “What did you expect?”
I shake my head. “I don’t know. I’ve never been to a prison…”
“Well this one is a doozy. One of the worst in the valley. Keep an eye out for your friend. I don’t know what she looks like.”
As we walk I look into each cell. I hate seeing all of these people locked up. After a few minutes, I see an octoling with her back towards us. Her tentacles are a mixture of red, maroon, and black. I’d recognize that pattern anywhere.
“There she is.” I smile lightly. I’ve finally found her.