Back on the ship, we agents start unloading the little Zapfish. It’s a big job and takes… a while to say the least. After hours of work, we gather for a rest…
“Great work with the fish guys.” smiles #2, “At this rate, we should be done in an hour.”
I groan. “I don’t want to anymore. My arms are sore.”
“Aww, muffin…” #4 says in dismay. All the other squids laugh and he looks around, surprised. “I didn’t think it was that funny.” I roll my eyes and grin. He has a way to make even #5 laugh, without realizing that he was funny.
Still chuckling, #2 looks about at us. “Don’t worry, the sooner we finish this, the sooner we get to go home.”
I sigh. “Ok. Let’s get back to it.”
As the work commenced, small talk started in our group. It’s started by #6. “Hey, do you think these Zapfish are enough to power up the city again?”
“Not even close, but these little guys should keep the important things running.” replies Agent #1.
“Like what?” I ask. Last time the power went out I missed the “action” in the city. I was kinda busy with other things.
“Hospitals and other emergency things.” the girl tells me, “Also some lights in various buildings.”
“Can we us the little Zapfish to power the city if we had enough?” #5 inquires. I glance at him and can tell that he’s doing some mental math. #5 used to go to a very good school and is very good at calculations and problems. I, however, am not and don’t have an answer to his question. #2 does though!”
“Yes and no. Enough little guys could power the city, but not for long. They would run out of energy and would need to be recharged.”
“So, how long do you think it will take to get back the Great Zapfish?” I remember that it took me over half a year to get it on my own. It shouldn’t take anywhere near that long this time because there’s more of us…
“The real question is, ‘How soon can we find it?’.” #1 corrects me.
“We are doing our best to find it,” sighs #2, “but progress is slow.”
I fall quiet and #6 speaks. “So, when we do find it, how are we getting it back?”
“We’re open to suggestions.” says #2, casually. Then her tone becomes more serious. “Literally, if any of you have ideas, then share away.”
#5 does. “Charge in guns blazing and catch them off guard?” He almost sounds like he doesn’t actually think that his idea is a good one.
“I think the best way is a stealth approach,” #4 offers, “but that’s always risky.”
I let them talk it out for a while. My mind begins to wander to thoughts of my brother. He most likely helped with this attack. I hope he’s ok…. I hope my friend is alright too.
I barely notice when I get a glance from #6. “You’ve been quiet lately, #3. What do you think?”
“Huh? Oh, I don’t know. “
Agent #1 looks at me in concern. “You ok, kiddo?”
I swallow. How do I answer? … Truth. “I’m worried about my brother”
“Oh…” Agents #1 and #2 exchange glances. “Don’t worry. We haven’t stopped looking for him since you got back.”
I shift my gaze to my feet. “I know… but.. I was thinking…” I stop working and tears form in my eyes. “He was probably here. He probably helped take the Great Zapfish… and I didn’t even see him.”
“No offense,” starts #6, her eyebrow raised, “but your brother sounds like a jerk. Besides, how would you stop him if you did catch him?”
My face turns red. “I don’t know… and, yes, he sounds like a jerk, but since pa left and ma died, he’s the only real family I have left. I love my guardian, don’t get me wrong, but I was so excited when I learned I had a brother, and now…”
Agent #2 puts her arm around me. “You have been through so much in the last few months. I totally understand. Why don’t you take some days off and go take a break when this is over?”
“Are you sure?” I ask her nervously, “You’re going to need all the help you can get to rescue the Great Zapfish.”
“If you want to stay, we will gladly accept your help.” #1 assures me. “But the option is still there… oh hold on.” Agent #1 is interrupted by her squid phone going off. She answers it and walks a little distance away. “Hello?”
The other agents look back at me and #4 asks a question. “Where are you gonna spend your vacation?”
“Probably with my guardian, here in Inkopolis.” I answer without hesitation. “I could go back to my village, but… my guard is so busy, I don’t think he’d be able to come…”
“What?!” All eyes and turn to face #1, who had cried out. She’s still on the phone. “… but how… so…. what do you need?… ok… ok… now you’re sure about this?… fine. See you soon.” She hangs up and turns to rejoin us, looking wild.
“Ummm….” I’m a little unsure of what to say. #6 asks the question for us.
“What was all that about?”
“Yeah?” I agree.
She stops in front of us, takes a deep breath, and says, “We just found the Great Zapfish!”
“WHAT?!” We all cry,
We found it? No. Mud found it. I know it. A grin spreads across my face. “Well forget my vacation! Where is it?!”
“I don’t know yet.” She admits.
Well, that wasn’t the answer I hoped for. “Ok… what are our orders?”
“We need to find the clues that he left in the ship. He said to start in the bridge.” I’m fairly sure, “he” means Mud.
My face goes pale and I glance at the other agents. Full of shame, I then reach in my pocket and pulled out the paper and knife. I had put them in my pockets, but meant to put them back in place before we left. I forgot after getting scared though…
“Where did you get that?!” #2 asks me sharply.
I lower my head and confess. “I went looking for Mud earlier.”
“And when did you go looking for Mud exactly?” she inquires. She’s angry. I can tell. She sounds like Mamma used to on the rare occasions that she got upset with me. This causes me to hesitate before telling her.
“When we were on guard. I’m sorry! I don’t know why, but he’s just captured my curiosity.”
“She wasn’t alone.” #4 says, “I went with her.” I glance at #4 and bite my lip.
#1 speaks. “Why did you go with her?”
“We all wanted to find out who Mud was.” puts in #6.
“Since no one was telling us, we began to think he was an enemy.” #5 adds.
#2 takes a deep breath then looks at #1. “One, can I speak with you?” The girls walk out of earshot.
I whisper to the others. “You guys shouldn’t have said anything. What if you’re thrown out of the agency?”
“And let you take the fall? No sir!” exclaims #4.
“But if you get thrown out of the agency, that would be horrible!”
#5 takes my hands in his. “I think this is an all for one and one for all moment. We won’t go without you. Besides, you’re the best shot here.”
I stare at them all sadly, then look away as I say, “Guys… I… After we get the Great Zapfish back… I was thinking of… I was going to… leave the agency… maybe.” I can feel the stares of my comrades and #5’s hands fall away from my own.
“What?!” cries #6, “Why?!”
I swallow hard. “I’ve been here for about three years or more now… and… everything seems to be going down hill for me…” I sigh, “I was planning to leave Inkopolis all together. I was thinking of trying to find my father… Although he probably doesn’t want to see me. That’s why I haven’t left yet… also my guardian…”
The three others just sit there, speechless. After a moment, #4 solemnly breaks the silence. “Well what ever your decision is, we’ll be right behind you with it.
I look away from them. I feel really bad. I don’t want to abandon them, but I want to find dad… “I don’t even know for sure that I’m doing that…” I tell them, “If I am thrown out of the agency, I might leave. If not… I promise to stick around, at least until the Great Zapfish is rescued… Possibly longer.”
“Thanks.” Grins #6, “Just let us know what you plan to do BEFORE you do it.”
“Agents!” #2’s sharp voice gets our attention easily, “We need to have a little talk.”
I look at the others and say quietly, “Ok guys. I will.” Then I turn towards Agent #2. This is where I find out what happens. Am I out of the agency? My heart pounds and the promise I just made to my friends swirls in my head.