Mud prepares his bomb rush and I prepare mine. He smiles at me. “If this goes well, you should be back home tomorrow morning.” I return the boy’s smile. I like that thought. In addition, Cirrina will be there too. “Of course,” he continues, “we will need to lay low for a while. The Octos are gonna be all over the valley, looking for us. I’ll definitely have my hands full the next few days.”
“Yeah, but I’m ready for some chill time,” I tell him. “I can’t wait to get to Inkopolis and see Spyke. Won’t he be surprised when I show up with Cirrina?”
Mud laughs. “That would be a surprise! You should definitely take it easy for the next little while. You’ve earned it.”
Something catches the corner of my eye. “Look. There’s Cirrina’s signal.”
“Ok, get ready.”
He and I activate our bomb rushes and hold our bombs over the edge. Cirrina pulls the plug. At first nothing happens. Then the machines sputter to a stop. The building goes silent as the whole complex shuts down. Then the lights flicker and go out. Nothing breaks the silence for several seconds as the Octaians hold their breath, totally confused in the dark.
POP! BANG!!! POW! POP! POP!! BANG!! BANG! POW!!
The silence is shattered as the bombs erupt. The horrified Octos are in a full panic. Then silence falls again.
Mud yells out. “LIGHTS PLEASE!!”
Cirrina plugs in the wire again and now we see the lit room is a mess of green ink everywhere. A few dazed and confused Octarians are still standing, but the overwhelming event leaves them frozen in shock. Mud looks to me.
“#3! Snipe them! Quick!”
I hurry into position and take them out.
Mud pats me on the back when I’m done. “Nice job. That worked better than I expected.” We regroup with Cirrina again. “Great job, girls! All that’s left to do is break the big guy out.”
Before we can even think about that, though, one of the big doors burst open bellow. The Octolings before have found a way in and they look very mad.
Mud throws his hands up in exasperation. “Really?! I mean, REALLY?!”
I clap my hand over his mouth to muffle his outcry. “Stay quiet!” I whisper. “I don’t think they know where we are. Huh? Are you ok Cirrina? You look like you’re going to have a heart attack”
Cirrina has gone pale again. She was looking like her usual self, but know she is back to terrified. I let go of Mud so that I can focus on her.
“I need to get out of here,” the girl whispers. “I was safer back in that cell.”
“Why?” Mud asks in earnest. “Why are you so scared of these guys?”
“Not… Not all of them. Just those two.” She points to two in the group. “They’ve sworn to kill me… but I really don’t want to hurt them.”
“Are they the ones who were guarding you?” inquires Mud.
Cirrina shakes her head. “No. They don’t know I was captured. If they knew, I’d be dead now. They were probably going to be told after I’d given all the info I had to offer. Then they’d kill me.”
“So they are executioners?” Mud presses.
Once again Cirrina shakes her head. “No they’re…” She shuts her eyes and tears appear in them. “They’re my siblings.”
Whitemud and I freeze. I feel sick. He has a horrible look on his face as he tries to comprehend Cirrina’s words.
“They’re…. and you…” he begins, “but they… that’s… no… no no no. That’s not right,” His face turns red. “But siblings are… and supposed to…” He calms down and his face returns to it’s original color. “Ok. We need to take them first.”
“What do you mean by ‘take them’?” asks Cirrina.
Mud looks away. “My team is in danger and those two are the threat. We shoot them first. Then we take the others.”
“Wait!” Cirrina exclaims. “I don’t want to hurt them.
Mud looks at her sternly. “What choice do we have? We are out numbered and being hunted. Besides, they will just respawn back on a respawn pad.”
“… I… I guess your right.” Cirrina looks very uncomfortable though.
I put an arm on her shoulder. “Don’t worry Cirrina. We can do this.”
Mud pulls out a burst bomb and leans over the side of the handrail. “Are we good?” he asks us, almost not listening.
“Yes,” I tell him. “Let’s do this.”
“Good. Then stay here and shoot all you can.”
With that, he jumps over the side and throws his bomb. Then he shoots as many as he can while falling. I hurry to the ledge and lay flat on my stomach. I aim. I start shooting. Cirrina is more hesitant. I won’t force her to engage unless it gets desperate.
Mud’s bomb lands in the middle of the group, splatting three Octolings. He managed to pop on on the way down and lands on top of another. He knifes her.
It doesn’t take long for the Octo’s to figure out what is going on, but he is able to shoot another before they return fire.
My gun shoots straight and true, the blast from it hitting the Octoling behind Mud. Five left. Mud super jumps back to us. I continue the fight.
“Why the retreat?” I ask.
“I’m out of ink!” is his answer. He pops a green puddle and dives in, refilling his gun and tank. The Octolings scatter, looking for a way up.
“I’m running low myself.,” I admit as I take another shot.
Mud watches the Octoling running up the catwalks. “Just out of curiosity,” he says to Cirrina, “did I get your siblings?”
She approaches the rail and looks about. “One of them. My sister, but my brother is still-” The girl gasps suddenly.
An Octoling is staring right at her. Then the enemy calls out, in a male voice, “Cirrina?! Wha- you guys take care of the Inklings! That girl is MINE!!!” Then he runs towards us, doubling his efforts to reach our position.
“Wait what?!” Mud exclaims. “Male Octoling?!” He looks closer at the approaching threat. Suddenly, he becomes excited, “Oh oh oh! I want him alive!”
“What?!” I cry. “Why the heck?! We are in no position to take prisoners!”
“I know that, but I need something from him. His goggles. If he pops, I lose my only chance to get that piece for my armor!”
I face palm. So does Cirrina. Slowly, I growl. “Is… now… really…. the time?!”
“Darn right it is!” Mud hops out of his puddle and jumps to a lower level. “Being out here all the time gets boring! A dude’s gotta have some hobbies! Cover me and draw their fire!”
“You have to be squiding me!” I hop up and follow him.
“What are you doing?! Why aren’t you sniping?” A blast of purple ink lands close to us as an Octoling draws near. I turn into a Kraken. “Hokie Dina!!” He leaps out of the way and lets me past. “But Cirrina… she’s… oh poop.”
Cirrina jumps down and lands next to him. “Go ahead. I can defend myself from the others if you take care of my brother.”
“Um… ok,” he says and runs after me. I have popped nearly everyone except Cirrina’s bro. Mud looks to me. “How long did you have that thing?” he asks as he deals with the rest.
“Entire mission. I brought it and forgot about it. I do that sometimes.” I return to kid form.
Cirrina’s brother lies on the ground, the wind knocked out of him. Mud kneels down and removes the mask.
“Finally. Thank you sir. You just made my job easier,” Mud tells the boy in Octarian.
Cirrina’s brother surprises all of us by replying in Inkling! “Hey! Give those back!”
“Mud, let’s hurry,” I urge my companion.
Mud isn’t listening. He grabs the Octoling by the collar and lifts him so that the two’s faces are only inches away. “Say you are sorry,” Mud hisses.
“Sorry? Sorry for what?” asks Cirrina’s brother. “Hunting a traitor? You’d do the same if your girlfriend there,” he motions to me, “joined us.”
My face grows bright red. Mud’s does too, but with rage.
“She is your sister!” Mud yells, “You’re supposed to be her brother. Is this how you treat familly?! Do you know what you will lose if you do this?! How can you be such a fool?!”
Cirrina and I stare at Mud. He sees our faces and drops Cirrina’s brother.
“You think I’d be doing this if she hadn’t wanted it?” the Octo continues. “Bet Cirri didn’t tell you that she asked to be hunted, did you sis?”
Cirrina gasps and her hands cover her mouth. Her eyes are wide.
Mud gives her the most confused look he can, before turning back to our prisoner. He points his weapon straight at Cirrina’s brother’s face. “Thanks for the mask.”
“You are not welcome. Guess I’ll see you later sis. Hopefully it won’t be years this go around. Next time, you’re dead.”
Mud shoots him point blank and he popped in an inky green mess. Mud is head to toe in ink. “Pppptttthhhh! Oh gross!” he cries. “I thot thom in my muth! Ppppttthhh!” The sight of him makes me shake my head in amusement.
Cirrina looks scared and. She shudders and slowly drops to her knees. The girl rubs her arms as if she’s cold. She’s shaking… and crying.
Mud turns to look and point at her. “You *spit* young lady, have *spit* some explanations that *spit* need to be shared.”
“I- I know,” the girl tells him shakily, her eyes wide. “I know, but can we get out of here first?”
Mud sits on the ground with his legs crossed. “Nope! I’m not moving until I get answers.”
She sighs weakly. “Fine. I’ll explain now.” I join them on the floor and Cirrina looks at me. “Splat…” she says, “I’m sorry. You’ve been so nice to me for so long, but I still lied to you. This is the real reason that I left the Octarian army.”