#17: Out of the Valley

I begin to head towards home, but I can hardly focus on what I’m doing. A few minutes pass. Mud comes over and leans next to me. “Are you ok?” he asks gently. “You seem distracted.”

“I’ll be ok after a while. That was just one heck of a mission. I’m exhausted… physically and mentally.”

“Well it’s not over yet. We still need to get out of here.” He put one hand on the control stick and lightly guides me out of the chair with the other. Then he sits, turns me around, prods me towards where Cirrina lay. “Rest while you can. I’ll fly us out.”

Slowly, I go sit next to Cirrina. She looks at me. “You ok?” asks the girl.

“Yeah. You?”

“I’ll be fine once we get back,” she answers and leans back, closing her eyes.

I study her. She looks as if she’s in pain, but is trying to hide it. Her hand is on her side… however she looks stiff. Like she’s scared to bend or else her back will hurt.

“Cirrina,” I begin slowly.

“Hmm?”

“let me see your-”

Mud cuts me off. “Girls! Battle stations! We’ve got Octostrikers and Octobombers inbound!”

Startled, I get to my feet. Cirrina tries to push herself up, but I stop her and force her to lie down again.

“You’re still too weak, Cirrina. Wait here.” Then I pick up my weapon.

Her eyes widen. “No way! Ngh?!”

“Unless you can follow me, you ain’t got a choice!”

Mud throws the throttle forwards, but the machine is so big that it can’t fly very fast. It’s still quick, but not quick enough. “Here they come!” Mud shouts.

Quickly, I open the cockpit and climb out, onto the ship. My fear of falling threatens to throw me into a state of panic, but I control myself.

The Octarians have the drop on us as the Octostrikers fire inkstrike after inkstrike and the Octochoppers move in.

“How are we doing up there?” Mud asks me through the headset.

“I’m hanging on. Getting into firing position now. Agh! Woah!”

An inkstrike hits the ship. The saucer rocks violently, but stays in the air.

“Hold on!” cries Mud. “This could be rough!”

I hold tight, but am nearly thrown off. Once the ship settles, I aim and shoot swiftly. As one falls, two more replace it. The enemy fire a salvo of inkstrikes. This time, Mud manages to avoid them. I continue to snipe, but feel overwhelmed.

“We can’t keep this up! There’s too many!” Mud shouts as he dodges another hit.

“You think I don’t know that?! I’m the one on the roof!”

“Right. Right. Sorry ab-”

POW

An inkstrike hits the front of the ship, making Mud loose control. The ship points straight down and we race for the ground. He pulls up with all his might at the controls, but the big ship is slow to respond. Slowly, the monster climbs out of its dive, but not fast enough.

“EVERYONE HOLD ON!!!!!” screams Mud.

For a moment things are a blur for me. Then I’m falling. I’m falling and I’m screaming. One of my worst worst fears is falling. I know. I know! It’s not the fall you should be scared of. It’s the impact. Well screw that! I’m scared of falling. You know why? Because the time while you are falling is the time when you get to look back at your life and regret EVERYTHING. Then you die.

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Soooooooooo…. Hi. I’m Cirrina… and I’m supposed to take over the narration for now… so where did Splat leave off? Ah yes. She is falling…

*************************

I sit inside the saucer. Mud is at the controls. Splat is fighting the enemy. My back hurts really bad.

Suddenly we get hit by an inkstrike and, next thing I know, we are plummeting downwards. I side across the ship, slamming into the wall. A cry of pain escapes me. Then he pulls up and I slam into the other wall. It. Hurts.

The flying saucer slowly, painfully pulls out of the power dive. Some sort of blur passes by outside and I think I heard screaming. We climb back up in a quick assent. It feels like we missed the ground by a meter. I force myself up, using my wall to hold most of my weight, I look out of the cockpit.

Splat isn’t on the ship.

Is everyone still alive?” gasps Mud.

“Not for much longer!” I answer him. “#3 fell off!”

“Really?!” he exclaims. “I mean, really?!” He turns the ship around and soon lands where she landed. The boy tosses me his headset. I put it on. He hops out, blasting any enemies he sees. “#3, are you with us?”

No response.

He runs to her, splatting anything in his way. He picks up her limp body and starts carrying it back to the ship. “Come on #3. Talk to me!”

Still no response.

They return to the ship, but the enemy fire is intense. They get pinned down next to the craft, unable to reach the cockpit. He puts on #3’s headset. “Cirrina, we need help! Can you move?”

Before I can answer, a voice comes over the headset. “Perhaps we could be of service.” I recognize the voice as #1’s just before a salvo of green inkstrikes lands all around us. They take out many of the threatening Octarians.

“What are you guys doing here and where did you get those?!”

“We raided your armory,” answers #2, “and took those forty inkstrikes you told us about.”

“Great thinking girl!” I exclaim. #1 and #2 both let out a sound of excitement when they hear my voice. Guess they didn’t realize the I have been rescued. I ignore them and talk to Mud. “I can move some, Mud. What do you need?”

“I need help getting #3 onto the ship,” he answers as more inkstrikes land around us.

“I’m coming.” Carefully, I walk, using the wall of the ship for support.

Mud hoists Splat up onto the edge of the ship. Then two sets of hand help him.

“Don’t think you can have all the fun without us!” laughs agent #6.

#4 smiles. “We got her. Take it easy.”

At this point I reach them and I see the other agents. Let’s get this straight. Splat has told me about them. She told them about me. We have never met and, as far as I know, they don’t know I’m Octoling. So they obviously think I’m an enemy. I realize this an things get awkward.

Agents #4 and #6 just stop and stare at me. Complete confusion sweeps over them as I, an Octoling, pop out of the ship we just stole. They drop Splat and stumble for their weapons.

“Hey! I don’t appreciate you dropping my best friend like that!” I scowl as I gently lower myself so that I am at Splat’s side.

They aren’t listening though. Adrenaline is pumping through their blood. Mud in front of them and I hope they will listen to him.

“Hold it guys! She’s-!?” POW! The two agents have shot Mud square in the face. “…… ow.”

#6 gasps. “Mud! I’m so sorry!”

“I’m fine,” he scowls as he wipes the ink off his face and spits it out of his mouth for the second time. “Relax. She’s one of us.”

The two look at me and I nod. Slowly, realization spreads over their faces.

“Ohhhh… you’re #3’s friend aren’t you?” asks #4.

“Yeah, that’s me,” I answer weakly. “Sorry to startle you.”

#6 waves it aside. “Don’t worry ’bout it.”

Soon, we are all back in the ship and flying to where the others are. When we land, Mud jumps out and cries, “Guys! You’re ok!” He throws his arms around #1 and #2, which makes me raise an eyebrow.

“We’re fine,” #2 assures him. “Are you guys all ok?”

Mud shakes his head. “#3 is down. She’s out cold.”

“What?!” #5 asks harshly.

“We need to get her back to Inkopolis.” I’m still in the ship, but am listening and speaking through the headset. “Spyke might be able to help her.”

“Good idea.”

The agents launch the last three inkstrikes on the Octarian base, then satisfied with the work behind them, make their way out of the cavern.

When #5 joins us in the cockpit and lays eyes on Splat, he cries out. The boy runs to her, kneeling down beside her. I am also sitting next to her, but he doesn’t seem to notice me. He pushes Splat’s tentacles out of her face and moves her so that her head rests in his lap instead of the hard floor.

The other agents sit in the front chairs, leaving #5 and myself to watch over Splat on the trip home. After a few minutes of quiet, #5 looks at me.

“I take it you are the girl that #3 has told me so much about?” he asks. I shrug.

“Maybe. Depend on what she told you.”

He smiles and a shiver runs through my body… but a good shiver.

“What’s you’re name? I’m agent #5.”

I swallow and answer. “Cirrina. People call me Cirri, though.”

“Cirrina… Nice. I like it.” He looks back at Splat. “I really hope she’ll be ok. I can’t imagine what I’d do if…” He doesn’t finish, but he doesn’t have to.

“She’ll be fine,” I say firmly as I cross my arms. “Splat’s tough.”

He looks at me again. “Splat,” he repeats then looks fondly back at the girl. “So that’s her real name.”

I give him a sideways glance. The fuzzy warmth I felt begins to fade. He has… plans already. Oh well…

The team flies out of Octo Valley and heads for Inkopolis. The Great Zapfish has already returned to it’s rightful place and is powering the city again. We take Splat to Spyke, hoping she will wake up soon.

As usual, we find Spyke in his place of dealings. Splat doesn’t move at all as we carry her or lay her down in front of the Urchin. Spyke cradles her in his arms, staring at the girl that he has raised since she was eleven.

“Whot happened to ‘er?” he asks.

I answer. “She fell off a flying saucer.” Spyke looks up when he hears me. His eyes land on me, but now I am wearing a hoodie to hide my tentacles and dark glasses to hide my eyes. I don’t like going into Inkopolis without hiding myself. People… don’t like my kind.

“How did that happen?” inquires Spyke.

Mud speaks up this time. “It was my fault. There was a battle, we took a hit, and she couldn’t hold on.”

“Of course it is,” says Spyke, distractedly. “’er injuries are beyond my capabilities. We need to take ‘er to the hospital.”

I watch as the agents lift my friend, but this time I hang back. Going to a hospital in Inkopolis probably isn’t the best idea for me… Spyke also stays behind.

Splat is quickly taken to a hospital and doctors examine her. Not long after they drop her off, Mud leaves. It’s almost an hour before they knew what was going on.

“Is she ok?” Callie asks the doctor. “How is she?”

“She took a big hit. I’m surprised she’s not dead!” admits the doctor. “She’ll have to stay here for a while, but I expect her to make a full recovery. However, she will have a bad scar on her back for the rest of her life. That girl got lucky. Also… can I ask you something?”

#1 nods “You can.”

He lowers his voice. “Why does she have Octarian symbols on all of her clothes?”

“She’s a bit of a rebel. She was going through a faze.”

“I see…”

When he leaves, #1 and #2 look at each other, concerned by this interesting bit of news.

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