The inside of the building is cold and dark. The marble walls reflect what little light is inside.
“This place is like something from a nightmare,” #6 tells us, her voice shaking.
I don’t know what kind of nightmares she’s having, but they must not be too scary. While I could see this place having a little bit of a spooky atmosphere if it was done right, as it is, the place isn’t really frightening.
“I’m liking it so far,” I admit with a smirk. “It’s too cool.”
#1 interrupts us. “Shh! Listen!” she orders. We fall quiet. Then I hear it. The sound of a distant fight echos from somewhere in the building.
I shoulder my gun. Ok, actually this one is Splat’s Splatterscope, but we share weapons. I look at the other girls.
“Shall we go help him?” I ask.
We all take off to where the sound is coming from. I’m fastest and get a little ahead of the others. I stop dead at what I see. Mud isn’t here though.
#6 calls after me. “Cirrina?! Hey where are you?!”
“Over here!” I yell.
“Wait up!” exclaims #1. “This place is massive! We can’t get separated.”
“Yeah, I can see that it’s huge.” I turn back and run the way I came. We meet up again.
“Come on, I think he’s this way,” #1 says, pointing in a different direction than where I went.
I point back the way I had gone. “Ok, but, just fyi, there is a lot of green ink that way.”
“Really?! Alright, we’ll go your way.”
The stone walls of the building create echos that throw off our sense of direction. I remember where to go though. I lead them to the place I had gone. I ignore the pain in my back.
The room is covered in both green and Octarian ink. Two enemy weapons lay broken on the floor. In the middle of the room is a large box.
#6 stares. “What the heck happened here?”
“How am I supposed to know?” I ask.
I notice that the box seems to be covering a gaping hole and I point this out to the others. We walk over to the hole and box so that we can inspect them. The box is extremely heavy. Together, we girls push it so that we can see into the hole better. It ends up being deeper than any of us expected.
“Think he’s down there?” asks #6 as she leans over the hole.
Suddenly, a voice comes from the gap. “Who are you?! Friend? Foe? The jerk who threw us into this thing?!”
The voice threw us off guard and startles #6 pretty good. She cries out, then falls backwards onto her butt.
Somehow the voice sounds familiar to me.
“You first,” orders #1. “You tell us who you are, then we’ll tell you.”
A different voice speaks. “My name is Castile and his is-”
Then I figure it out. “Argo?”
“Cirrina?!” the first voice cries out.
“Who?” asks #1.
#6 is confused. “What?”
“Wait wait wait,” I say. “Argo?! What the heck? Also, is that Callisto?!”
“Cirri?” the girl asks.
Argo lets out his exasperation. “Really?! We run into her twice in twenty four hours and I fail the first time and then the second time we’re trapped and don’t have our weapons!”
“Yeah,” Callisto agrees, “and I’m just gonna take a wild guess and say she won’t let us out of here.”
A frown takes over my expression. “I might let you out… if you hadn’t tried to murder me earlier!”
#6 and #1 look at each other. “… so confused…” #6 admits.
“Care to explain who they are, Cirrina?” asks #1.
“All you need to know is that Argo is my older brother, Callisto is my older sister, and they both want to kill me.” Another thought occurs to me. “Mud knows that. Maybe he’s trying to get back at them for it. You guys didn’t see how he was acting when he found out… anyway, come on. Let’s leave them for a while. The deserve it.” I turn and walk off.
#1 talks to my siblings. “Hey! Which way did the other guy go?”
“We don’t know. He threw us in and ran off after the little ones,” Callisto answers.
I stop dead. “The… little ones?” I haven’t heard that term in years. That’s what we called my younger siblings. I whip around. “The others are here?! I he-”
“He’s after them,” confirms Argo. “I think I saw Kapal last…”
“Another sibling?” #1 inquires.
I nod. “My little brother.”
“Kapal isn’t a fighter,” Argo warns us. “He has to stay out of direct battle.”
Callisto speaks up. “Argo and I both put up a fight against that guy, but were over powered. Kapal doesn’t stand a chance! Not that you’d care… traitor!”
“We need to find Mud. Now!” shouts #1. “Before he kills that kid!” She and #6 run past me and down one of the hallways in search of Mud.
“I’ll be back guys,” I say to my older siblings, “and I’ll keep Kapal safe. Even if he tries to kill me too.” Then I turn and run after the others. When I catch up, I address #1. “Do you really think hed kill my brother?”
Agent #1 sighs. “I don’t doubt that he would.”
“He knows, though, that I don’t want them hurt.” I frown sadly. “Why would he go after them like this? It’s not his family or problem.”
“I don’t know what his motivation is,” admits #1, “but he’s been through a lot lately. I don’t even know if he’s in his right mind.”
“Great. Very reassuring.” My voice is tense and filled with sarcasm.
We run through the building until the sound of a fight catches our ears. #6 points down a hall as she tells us, “That way!”
We run hard. Soon, I recognize the sound of a charger weapon and the voice of a boy crying out, “What do you want with me?!” We run for the sound, but the corridors of echos make it near impossible to pinpoint where the voice is coming from.
My mind feels close to breaking again. I can’t stand this. “Kapal?! Kapal where are you?!” I scream.
His voice echos around us. “Whoever you are, help me!!!!”
Then, just as soon as the shouting starts, it ends. The stone building drops to a dark silence. It’s like the world has stopped and everything stands still.
“Where do we go?” #1 ask impatiently.
I turn in a circle, confused. “I- I don’t know. Kapal?!” My voice breaks through the building for a moment and silence falls again. Fear overwhelms my mind. I am nearly ready to cry.
“There!” #6 points down a hallway where a train of green ink can be seen leading up a flight of stairs. I follow the trail without hesitation.
The path leads up the stairs, down one more hall, and into a large room. This room is filled with chairs, all facing forward, towards what resembles a group of thrones. Inkling ink and Octo ink covers the whole room.
On the smaller “throne” sits a younger Octoling. He has long black tentacles and wears a White Inky Rider and a pair of Punk Whites. I also notice that this boy has painted his nails, which is weird. He looks hurt, but all his wounds have been bandaged.
“Kapal!” I exclaim as I rush to his side.
He looks up at me. It takes him a moment, but then his eyes widen. “C- Cirri?!” To my surprise, he throws his arms around me. I hug him back.
“You’re so grown up now…” I whisper, “I’m surprised you remember me at all.”
“I have a few memories. What are you doing here?” As Kapal is asking this, the Inklings step into the light and begin looking for any indicators on the direction Mud went.
“I’m here to help you,” I tell my little brother as I hold him out in front of me.
He laughs. “You help me? Don’t kid around. You and I are supposed to be enemies.” His voice is sad and he pulls away from me. “You… you know that.”
“I don’t care. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”
#1 cuts into our conversation. “He was definitely here,” she says, referring to Mud. “I think he’s using an Inkbrush.”
“He must have just left,” puts in #6.
“I- Inklings?!” the boy cries, just now noticing them. “Cirri, you still hang with them?”
I roll my eyes. “Well, yeah. I mean, that’s what it meant to break Oath. Go join the Inklings.”
“I know,” he smirks, “but I thought you would have ditched them and were too scared to come back!”
“Wha- Why don’t you tell me what you really think of me?! Seriously bro.” I frown.
Something catches the attention of all of us. Another fight is heard back in the halls. #1 shouts. “We need to move! We cannot lose him again!”
“Cirri, he’s after Entero and Amphi,” Kapal informs me.
My body tenses. Amphi and Entero. Amphi is the youngest. She probably isn’t that tough. Entero… oh man I don’t want to face him, but I don’t have a choice.
“Stay here Kapal,” I order tersely. “I’m going to go find them, then I’ll come back for you. I stand and join the others.
The three of us run off to where we heard the fight before. It’s quiet again. #6 looks to me in wonder. “How big is your family? We keep running into more and more siblings!”
“There are six of us still alive, unless Mud….” I can’t finish that thought. “Anyway, Argo is oldest. Then Callisto. Then me. Enter and Ame are next. They were twins. Ame isn’t alive anymore. Please don’t ask. Then Kapal. Finally Amphi is youngest.”
“Wow!” both of the girls gasp.
“I’m an only child,” says #6, “so that many kids is crazy to me!”
I chuckle. “Heh, yeah…. oh I hope Amphi and Entero are ok. If he found one, he probably found the other. They tended to tag team a lot just before I left.”
A blood curdling scream rings out from the center of the temple.
“This way!” #1 exclaims.
We run through the hall, to the biggest room with the dome ceiling. There, in the middle of the room, lay a young, motionless Octoling.
“Amphi!” I scream and run to the girl. “Amphi! Amphi, speak to me!” I shake her, but the little Octoling remains limp. I fight back tears. “Amphi… Please don’t be dead…. I- I can’t check. I’m too scared.” I don’t look at #1 or #6.
Callie kneels down to inspect the body. After a tense moment she says, “She’s… ok?! She’s breathing and there’s no blood or ink on her. I don’t think Mud even touched her.”
I stare. “Then… what!?”
“I think she fainted.” Callie is smiling as she looks at the little girl. It takes a minute for me to relax. Finally, I look down at my sister, who is beginning to stir. Amphi is small, smaller than she should be, and is quite adorable.
“I swear Amphi! You scared me half to death!” Her eyes open and she looks around. The child begins to panic when she sees the Inklings. “It’s ok! It’s ok!” I tell her quickly. “My friends won’t hurt you.”
Her voice trembling, she asks, “Where’s the… other one?”
“I… we don’t know where he went. Where’s Entero? Was he with you?”
She nods. “Yes… he was. Until the scary guy attacked us. Did I go to sleep?”
“Sort of, but you’re ok,” I tell her gently. “Do you know where Entero or the scary guy went?”
She thinks. “No… he… he jumped out of no where and scared us.”
My ear twitches. Voices come from the rooms to the right and they are moving closer. I swallow hard.
“Stay behind us, Amphi,” I order as I hold my gun up and face the room. The others raise their weapons and brace for a fight. The door’s handle begins to turn, but gets stuck.
BANG BANG BANG
The unknown danger tries to kick down the doors.
The door is about to break. Then, unexpectedly, the door slowly creeks and swings open. Three Inklings are pushing the heavy, brass doors.
“Woah, woah!” #2 gasps. “Hold fire!”
I relax. “Don’t scare us like that!”
“Sorry guys, we didn’t know you were there,” #5 tells us.
#1 lowers her gun. “Fair enough.”
“Have you found him yet?” asks #2 serious. We shake our heads and agent #1 answers.
“No. He’s as slippery as ever. We’ve chased him all over this place, but we haven’t even caught a glimpse of him.
“And,” I put in, “we’ve found all but one of my siblings. This is Amphi.” I put my hand behind her and nudge her forward.
They others say, “Hi Amphi!”
She responds shyly. “… hi.” I notice her seeming to edge away from me. I push it from my mind for now.
“I need to go back and get Kapal. He’s alone right now and defenseless.”
#1 nods. “Very well. Come on team. This way!”
We follow #1. I stay next to my sister, holding the little girl’s hand as we go. She seems so scared. We return to where we left the boy Octoling.
Kapal is hiding behind a chair, but comes out when he sees me. “I- I thought you might be that guy.”
#4 gives us a sideways look. “Is he talking about Mud?”
“Yeah. He’s scared these guys pretty good,” confirms #1.
“Kapal!” Amphi exclaims. She breaks away from me and runs into her older brother’s arms. “There you are! I was so scared! Who are these people?! Where are the others?! What is-”
I stare, dumbfounded.
Kapal laughs. “Relax Amphi. It’s ok. Come with me.” He takes Amphi by the hand and guides her to me. She hides behind him, but he picks her up. “Amphi, this is your big sister. Her name is Cirrina.”
Amphi’s eyes widen. She whispers in Kapal’s ear. He smiles.
“Well,” the boy begins out loud, “yes. She did, but I don’t think she’s gonna do it to you or me or any of the others. Cirrina is safe.”
My face falls as I realize that he has to assure Amphi that I won’t kill her. It feels awful.
The girl whispers in Kapal’s ear again. He frowns at her. “If you think you should, go ahead and try, bu I don’t recommend it. Look at all the Inklings.” Amphi buries her face in Kapal’s shoulder. “Give Cirrina a chance… just this once. Once we find the others, everything will go back to normal. For now though, for Cirrina’s sake, let’s all try to get along… ok?”
“… fine,” the little girl mutters.
Kapal smiles. “Good. Then here ya go, Cirri.” To my surprise, Kapal moves Amphi and hands the small girl to me.
“Woah!? Heh.” I hold Amphi out in front of me. We quietly look at each other for a moment. Then I smile broadly. “I’ve missed you so much Amphi!”
“I don’t remember you,” she tells me bluntly. “I only know what the others told me.”
I put the girl on my hip so that I can hold her with one arm and use my charger with the other. “That makes sense. You were really small when I had to leave. We’ve chatted enough though. We should find Entero.”
“Right!” says #2. “So what is Mud doing out here?”
“We have no idea,” answers #1, “but we do know he has attacked all of Cirrina’s siblings.”
“And one of them is MIA,” #6 puts in.
“MI- what?” Kapal asks. I’m also confused.
“You know, Missing In Action,” explains #5. “MIA.”
#2 shakes her head. “I don’t think they use the same lingo we do, #5.”
“Yeah, I’ve never heard that before,” I admit.
“Regardless, we need to find where they are,” announces #2. “I vote we perform a sweep of the building. We can start at this end and work to the other side of the structure.”
I nod. “I like that idea. Er, should we get my other two siblings? Personally, I’m not sure. They will both are bent on killing me, but they care a lot for Entero.”
“What about your brother here?” #4 asks as he points to Kapal. “Are you willing to work with Inkling Agents?”
Kapal looks at the ground. “It… It’s kinda against the rules, but… I will. Just until we find the others.”
“Great!” #1 says . “Now let’s find the others.”