It takes a moment for us all to relax. The others help me up again. My back hurts so bad.
Mud walks over to #1 and #2 and whispers something to them. They smirk, then #2 says, “Let those three go!” She points to the Kelp Octos.
“We’re just letting them go?!” #6 asks in surprise.
Mud grins. “We sure are!”
“What about these two?” I cautiously inquire as I hold my little brother and sister close to me.
“We’ll deal with them in a second,” #2 tells me. The agents free the Kelps and lead them to the exit. “Now listen here!” #2’s voice is sharp. “Tell Ryan this, we are coming for him, we know where he is, and there is nothing he can do about it.”
One of the Octos scowls. “How could you know where he is? You’re bluffing!”
“Your Octoling friend was very helpful,” drawls Mud. “What was her name? Callisto? She told us everything we needed.”
“She what?!” another of the Kelps exclaims, “That stinking, no good…. grrrrr.” The three Kelp Octos run off to freedom. “This is not over Inklings!”
Once they are gone, I speak up. “Now what?”
“Now,” #1 says with a sigh, “we go home. Frankly I could use a day off after all this.
#5 stretching, says, “I couldn’t agree more.”
“Then lets go home guys!” Mud turns to the two Octolings at my side. “So, have you guys ever been to Inkopolis?”
Their faces instantly drain of color. “We aren’t allowed to go there. It’s forbidden,” Kapal tells us.
“Callisto said so,” adds Amphi.
Mud kneels down so that he’s eye level with Amphi. “Look guys, I think it would be safer for you to come live with your sister for a while. Some crazy things are about to go down back in the valley… and I think you guys will like it in Inkopolis.”
“But we aren’t even supposed to SEE Cirrina,” Kapal frowns. “Plus, I have sch-”
“I want to go,” Amphi announces.
Mud pats her on the head. “Smart move, squidd- er.. kiddo. You aren’t a squid… anyway, the choice is up to you guys and Cirrina herself.”
“I want both of you to come with me!” I tell them with a smile. “I want you to meet Splat and Spyke. It would be wonderful to have you arrou-”
“THERE IS NO WAY THEY ARE GOING WITH YOU.” Callisto’s voice rings through the room, but remains hidden. Mud hurries to the closest shadow and readies his weapon. He has switched his Splatling for a Dual Squeltcher. The rest of us group together, our weapons raised.
Argo’s voice comes next. “You really thought we’d leave those two behind? You must think we’re pretty low!”
“Get ready to fight guys,” whispers Callie.
#4 says, alarmed, “I don’t see them!”
“It’s over you two!” calls #2. “Come out where we can see you!”
“Hey Amphi!” Callisto growls. The little child gasps. “You have one chance to rethink your desire to go with them or we’ll brand you as traitor.” Amphi’s face goes pale. “You two little ones meet us at location 1-2-10 or….”
Two small red lights train over the floor then one focuses on me and the other on Amphi. I hold her tight.
“Better choose your side now…” Argo warns. “I really don’t want to hurt you.”
“Those dirty little-” #5 begins.
#2 cuts him off. “Hush.” The inklings scan for where the two Octolings are hiding, but the temple is too dark to see them.
“Cissy…” Amphi starts as she looks up at me, but Kapal cuts her off.
“Come on, sis! We gotta go, now!” He grabs her hand and starts pulling her towards the door.
“Go, Amphi.” Silence drops over the place like a blanket after I give Amphi the order. It pains me to tell her this, but I have to. “I’ll see you again. Don’t worry, but you have to go for now.”
They boy turns and picks Amphi up then heads for the door. I don’t stop him. Amphi doesn’t fight him. She just buries her head in his shoulder again.
Both of us are on the verge of tears.
“I don’t like this,” admits #6.
#1 shakes her head. “What choice do we have?”
“See you later sis,” Argo calls out. Then there is the sound of footsteps. They die out. Silence for a moment.
“Sorry Cir…” There is the sound of a gun firing and a dart enters my arm.
“Cirrina!” shouts #4 in horror.
Callisto continues. “But you nearly stole Amphi from us. Next time, I will finish you.” We hear the girl leaving.
I pull the dart from my arm and look at it a moment. Then it falls from my hand. I stagger, nearly losing my balance. #6 grabs me and helps to steady me.
“Are you hurt?” she asks.
I shake my head and force myself to focus a moment longer. “I- I’m not hurt… but I’m gonna lose it in a moment.” I shudder. Already I’m starting to see things. My weapon clatters to the ground. My eyes widen. I can’t think straight. I have to. I start backing away from the others. “O-once I lose it… I won’t be able to tell friend from foe.” I shudder again and my hands fly to my head. It hurt. I’m so confused.
Mud rejoins the group. “I couldn’t find them. It’s too dark. What’s with her?”
“She got hit with a dart!” answers #2. #6 picks up the dart and hands it to Mud. “She said something about ‘losing it’!”
Mud studies the dart for a moment. “Raja juice!” he exclaims. “It’s a poison of madness. Harmless to the body, but makes you go crazy!”
I’m shaking uncontrollably. I sink to my knees and clamp my hands over my ears. Everything is confusing me. Scaring me. I start to scream.
“Everyone! Get back!” Mud shouts. He pulls out his knife and holds it above his head. “Sorry Cirrina”
“Mud! NO!” Callie cries out.
Marie grabs his wrists, trying to restrain him. “What do you think you’re doing?!”
My head snaps up at the harsh voices. I don’t really understand what is going on, but I see everyone that moves as a threat. I move back away from them frantically.
“Hey, stop!” shouts Mud. “I know what I’m doing!” After a moment, Marie lets go of him, but looks nervous. “Put your weapons down guys, it’s best if we don’t spook her.”
They do as he asks and place their weapons on the ground.
“Callie, start talking to her,” orders Mud.
“It doesn’t matter, just talk.”
Callie swallows, then looks back at me. “Hey, Cirrina. You still in there?”
My eyes flick between each of them. I keep backing up, not trusting anyone but myself.
“Cirrina! Over here! Look at me!” Callie says, trying again. It doesn’t work. “I don’t think she can even here me.”
“Well, do something to distract her,” says Mud.
Callie thinks for a second, then the wheels of her mind spin to life. “Cirrina! Watch this!” Then the girl starts to dance her splatfest routine. This catches everyone off guard. Marie regains her composure quickly and joins her cousin in dancing.
I watch the two for a moment. Then… something clicks in my mind. A memory comes to me. A memory of a pink tentacled girl and bright lights and music. I remember myself laughing while she drips Ice Cream on her Splatfest Tee. I remember the two of us and, for a moment, that memory anchors me back into reality.
I shake my head to clear it. I start to lower my hands… then confusion threatens to grab me again.
Mud slid behind me while I was watching Callie and Marie, raised his fist, knife in hand, and struck me from behind. He hit me just above my shoulders, on the lower part of my neck. It’s enough to knock me out, but far from a lethal hit.
I fall to the floor and black out, becoming completely unresponsive.
Splat here! I am back and taking back the narrative of my story! Sorry for the break. I was unconscious.
“What did you do to her?!” #5 asks in surprise.
Mud raises an eyebrow. “I knocked her out. Duh.”
“Sorry I stopped you Mud,” say Marie. “I just thought you were going to do something… stupid.”
He smiles at his cousin. “All is forgiven.”
#1 kneels down next to Cirrina. “We better get her to a hospital. Can it be treated?”
“Raja poison is something you need to sleep off, so there’s no point in going to a doctor. She should be fine in the morning.”
The girl on the floor moans suddenly. Cirrina looks as if she’s suffering from a terrible nightmare. She shudders and clinches her fist, but doesn’t wake.
“Is she ok?” #4 asks.
“It’s one of the effects of the poison,” answers Mud. “She’s going to have a very bad sleep.” He kneels down and lifts the Octoling over his back, fireman style. “Let’s go. I’m tired of being shot at for today.”
The team heads back to Inkopolis, defeated. When they get back, Mud takes Cirrina to Spykes house. The Urchin is very alarmed when he sees the girl and instantly begins to care for her. Mud doesn’t stick around though. He goes of to the hospital to see me…