#4: On Guard. On Board.

When we reach the plaza we meet up with #4. He runs over to us. “Hey!” He grins, “You’re back. How did it go?”

“It was a set up.” I say bluntly, “ We didn’t gets the Great Zapfish… did you find Spyke?”

“He’s fine. He was nowhere near the attack.”

“Thank goodness.” I say under my breath.

“So, what did you mean, ‘It was a set up.’?”

“That boat we went after was a decoy. Mud is searching it for clues to where the Octarians took the Great Zapfish… agents #1 and #2 need to hear about this.”

“Right. They’re over by the mall. It’s being used as a temporary HQ.”

“K.”

“So,” #4 asks, stretching, “what was Mud like? Is he a spy or what?”

A sigh escapes my lips. “I can’t tell. He seems to be on our side… he promised to return so that he and I could talk. I’ll try to learn more then. What did you find out, #6?”

“Well,” the girl agent begins, “he’s a good fighter and he was really prepared… too prepared. Like when those Octarians burst out onto the bridge, it was almost like he was expecting it to happen; and that stash of weapons under the docks, how did he know that the Octarians would take that river to make a getaway?”

I think about these things. “… good point. Guys… I delivered those gun to the dock… he didn’t meet me… there was just a note, saying to put them under the tarp… I’m going to ask him about it later.”

#4 let’s out a sigh. “You know… I don’t want to be ‘that guy’, but I’m not sure I trust this new friend.”

“Yeah, but we don’t have any real evidence to say he’s a double agent.” #5 points out coolly, “We’re just making assumptions because we’ve never heard of him.”

I nod thoughtfully. “True… we should ask #1 and #2 about him.”

The others agree and we head over to our leaders. Agent #1 is sitting by a big table in the food court of the mall. A large map was deployed on said table. The girl looks up as we approach. “Agents, I’m glad you’re here. We really need you’re help.”

“First,” I say before she can speak further, “we have a report.” I then relayed the events of the night. “That’s it. Are you positive that Mud’s on our side?”

“Ok, you guys can’t know about Mud.” #1 tells us seriously, “I’m sorry, but I cannot tell you anything about him. As far as you know, he doesn’t even exist. Just know that we trust him.”

I decide to be honest and blunt. “That doesn’t comfort me. Oh, and he promised to meet me so we can talk. What now?”

“Right.” She looks back to the map, “The attack left a lot of people hurt. No one was killed, but there was some serious damage. You guys,” she looks at us, “need to run security while we clean up and get people the help they need.”

“Will do.” I say an turn to go. She didn’t say not to meet Mud later… so I guess I’ll still meet him.

Later, we were on guard at the site of the attack. #4 seemed… irritated.

“We should be out looking for the Great Zapfish, not guarding.” the fourth agent groans.

“I agree.” I admit calmly.

#6 shrugs, “But someone needs to take this job. I guess.”

“I suppose so.” I say it, but I am not actually all that convinced.

An hour passes. Nothing happens that needs our assistance. Eventually, #5 gets fed up. He moves so that he’s standing in front of us.

He scowls. “Do you suppose #1 put us here so we wouldn’t go after Mud?”

“Probably…” I reply quietly, looking at the ground.

“So…,” the boy continues, “What do we do? I don’t want to break orders, but we can’t just forget about Mud!”

I bite my lip. This is getting rough. “I don’t know…”

“Just thinking out loud here,” #4 said thoughtfully, “but I think we should see if he’s still at the boat, just to check!”

This is so painful… being a leader. Making these choices… Being in the agency. Being in the agency is painful. I don’t like it… not at all.

It doesn’t matter what I think though. I have to lead my squad… even if I don’t want to. Should we go take a look and see if we can locate this… ally? Or do we remain here? …I hate the agency… and these secrets make me not trust it… If there’s something untrustworthy about it, I want to know. I’m tired of being used.

“…I agree.”

#5 smirks a little. I guess he’s glad I agree with him. “So how are we doing this? Do we all go?”

“No. Definitely not.” I say instantly. That would be a very bad idea.

“One at a time leave?”

Bad. Bad. Can’t he see that? “I think some of us should stay.” I tell him, “If we all just leave, someone will notice.”

His smirk becomes a little more prominent. “Good point.”

I fall quiet and let the others talk.

#6 speaks. “But who is going to stay? I think it’s pretty obvious we all want to go.”

#5 opens his mouth, but #4 speaks before him. “I’d like to go, since I missed out on the action last time.”

“Fair enough.” nods #6, “#3, I know you have questions for Mud. Why don’t you go too?”

I do have questions. “Ok.”

#5 glares at #6 then he huffs. “I guess it’s settled then. #3 and #4 will go find Mud and we will stay and cover for you. All in favor?”

“Sounds like a plan!” smiles #6.

“Let’s do it.” #4 and I depart for the docks, but, as we walk, I glance back. I see #5 towering over #6, who looks like she’s stuck between laughing and cowering in fear. I bite my lip.

“I hope he’s still there.” #4 tells me, pulling me, once again, from my thoughts.

I nod. “Same.”

Twenty minutes later, we are standing on the dock that leads to to the ship. #4 squints ahead. “What’s that on the deck of the ship? It looks like it’s glowing!”

I follow his gaze. There is something glowing, but I can’t tell what it is. “What… is that?” I breath.

“Better draw our weapons.”

Carefully we approach the.. thing. I keep my sniper gun at the ready, just in case. As we get closer, we see that the thing is beneath a large tarp and tied down with rope.

#4, who keeps me behind him even though I am the more experienced agent, starts untying one of the ropes. “What ever this thing is, it’s big.”

“Yeah. Really big.” My voice is flat and sounds uninterested, which surprises me. I want to know what this is, but I guess I’m distracted and nervous.

The ropes fall slack and he pulls back the sheet. We stare. “Zapfish?!”

“What? But- but- but-” I stammer. That makes no sense.

“It’s all the little Zapfish from the hull.” #4 lifts the tarp to show me. “Look at them all!”

“Amazing.”

The boy straightens up, letting go of the sheet. He scratches the back of his head. “That would have taken hours to get them up here. Kuddos to Mud.” he chuckles then looks around. “Speaking of which, where is he?”

I stiffen and glance about. For a moment, I had forgotten why we came here. “I haven’t seen him.”

“Come on. Let’s check the bridge.”

I nod and follow him. I don’t actually know where the bridge is… or where any of it is. I know very little about boats. So, I let him lead me. The ship is quiet and every door is open and papers litter a few of the rooms.

“Wow. This place is a mess.” I say after the fifth paper filled room.

“What was Mud doing?”

“There’s no telling.”

The bridge is no better. File folders, tables, cabinets… all have been looted through. Stuff is everywhere.

“Man, this is crazy.”

After viewing the place, #4 sighs and looks to me. “I don’t think he’s here.”

“Neither do I.”

“Guess we should head back. We have no idea where he went anyway.”

“Right.” I’m starting to get chills down my spine. I don’t like this place. It scares me… which is stupid. I’ve fought tons of enemies. I should be scared of some dark ship.

As we exit the bridge, #4 seems to get distracted by something. “Whaa? ..”

I stop. “What are you looking at?”

“That!” He points ahead.

“Woah.”

A paper with a knife stabbed through it is stuck in the door. I guess I was to stuck in my fear to notice. I go forward and touch the sheet, examining it closely. On the paper, is the scribbled word “MAP”.

“Map? What Map?” I ask, not expecting an answer.

#4 glances at me. “So you think Mud left that?”

“Maybe.”

“I don’t get it. What does ‘Map’ even mean?”

I know he knows what a map is. I wish he wouldn’t say dumb stuff though. “I’m not sure…”

“I guess we should just look for a map?”

“That’s not a lot to go on.” I grunt as I yank the knife out of the wood. For some reason I notice how smooth my motions were just now. I had grabbed the knife handle normally and placed one hand on the door for strength. The moment it came free I flipped the knife around so that I was holding it backwards. It felt natural. Flowing. Easy. Only thing is, I’ve never done that before. I begin to wonder where I learned to do that.

I flip the paper over. A single blue dot marks its back. “What is this?”

“I think it’s a dot…” #4 says. He looks a little worried for my sanity. I want to face palm so bad. He speaks again before I have the chance to respond. “I think we should find a map. Where would they keep maps on ships?”

“Hmm… Captain’s quarters?”

“Worth a shot!” He grins.

“Let’s go then!” I say and he, once again, takes the lead.

The Captain’s quarters are two levels bellow the bridge. To boot, all power is out. I’m nervous and likely to scream at any unknown sound. I can feel myself begin to shake. Is this how my friend feels when…

“I don’t like it.” #4 admits.

“Neither do I… I… I kinda want to go back.” I think I’m having a panic attack. #4 looks at me and his expression softens.

“Sure, let’s do that.”

“Good.” I say shakily. My eyes are wide with fear, but I can barely see. #4 takes my hand and we head back in quite a rush. We return to our post, where #5 and #6 wait for us.

“Hey! You’re back! How’d it go?” asks #6.

“Well… I guess it went ok.” I’m still shaking. #5 notices and puts his arms around me. It helps.

“Hardly.” contradicts #4, “Mud wasn’t there, the ship was trashed, and nothing told us where he went.”

“But we weren’t caught. I’d call that ok.”

“True. True.”

“What about the little Zapfish?” #6 asks, “Where are they?”

“Oh we found them.”

“Where?!”

“Under a tarp.” I answer her. She has a lot of questions.

“Weird.”

“Yeah.”

#5 let’s me go and straightens up. “Don’t look now.” he says, “Here comes agents #1 and #2.”

“Whut?”

#2’s sharp voice snaps me to attention. “Agents! How are things so far?”

I turn to address her, forcing my voice to be normal. “All’s quiet so far.”

“Fantastic.” Grins #1, “Because we have a new task. We need to get all the little Zapfish off the ship you guys raided earlier.”

I want to face palm so bad, but I don’t. “Ok.”

“While you guys are doing that,” #2 adds, “we will be searching for any clues to find out where the Octarians went.” I nod.

“Great! Head on over when you can. We will meet you there.” #1 waves as she and her cousin walk off.

“Right…”

Once they are out of earshot, #6 bursts. “Oh sure,” she cries, “now that Mud’s gone we can go to the ship!”

“Seriously.” I agree, irritated.

“Yah, seriously! Why are they trying to keep us away from this guy?!”

“Don’t you think that you’re over speculating? Just a tad?” asks #4 as he smiles nervously and tries to get #6 to chill.

“Well, maybe… I don’t know…” She shakes her head. “But still, it just seems weird.”

#4 has a point, but… “I agree with six. I’m not sure he’s a spy… #1 and #2 trust him… I think he knows something major. Something that would effect us. A lot.”

Only thing is, I have no clue what.

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