I head for the alley where Spyke does his dealings, hoping that’s where he is. My footsteps echo on the concrete. My long tentacles get in my face and I push them out of the way. I’m going to have to put them in a ponytail…
A cool, morning breeze blows past me, causing me to shiver. I haven’t slept all night. There was the Splatfest, then the attack, and the raid… now the sun has come up. I’m tired.
When I get to my destination I see the tall form of my Guardian, rising to meet me. He opens his arms and I run into them. “Spyke!” I exclaim happily.
A smile crosses his face. “Hello Love, how is everything going?” He picks me up like I’m a small child, though I am 17.
“Things are crazy!” I answer. “When the lights went out all over, I was scared something big would happen and you’d be hurt in the confusion.”
He pets my head gently. “Don’t worry. I’m fine. After the attack I helped with the clean up.”
I return his smile and lay my head on his shoulder, careful to not get poked by his spikes. “I won’t be able to help you out with your business for the next few days,” I say quietly.
“That’s just fine, Love. I’ll be busy myself with helping around here.”
I nod. “I’ll probably be gone. I don’t know how long, but I’ll be back as soon as I can.” We’re both quiet for a few minutes. Then his face lights up a little.
“Oh, I just remembered,” he says.
He casually says, “Your brother stopped by earlier.”
I freeze. My eyes widen. “What?” I ask slowly.
Spyke is still speaking. “He came by just before the attack. He asked where you were, so I told him you were in the Splatfest.”
“You’re squiding…” I say, slightly dazed, “You aren’t squiding. He was here?!”
“Yes, he was here,” Spyke sets me down as he replies, “but he went looking for you, Love. Guess he never found you.”
I stare at Spyke and mumble, “I can’t believe it…”
My brother stopped by earlier. No way. It’s… it’s just what I thought. He was here. He was here! He was looking for me. I haven’t told Spyke about his rebellion yet. I’m hoping I can find out why he did it before I tell Spyke…
Spyke looks at me, concerned. “Love? …. Hello? …Are you in there?”
I snap back to reality. “Sorry! It’s just…” I shouldn’t tell him yet. “Never mind. I should probably get going.”
“See you soon, Love!”
“See ya, Spyke.” I hug him once more then leave. I head to HQ, hoping to get some advice from Agent #1 or #2. They are the the only two there when I arrive. The other agents have not shown up yet.
Agent #2 looks up as I walk over. “ Your back. Excellent!”
“Hey,” I say, a little sadly. “I was hoping I could talk with you two.”
“What’s wrong?” inquires #1, looking slightly worried.
“My brother WAS here,” I tell them. “He went to my guardian, then came looking for me… apparently.”
The girls are stunned. “WHAT?!” cries Agent #2. “Your brother was in Inkopolis?!”
“That’s what Spyke told me,” I explain.
#1 grabs my arm. “What time was he there? Where did he go?” she asks.
“Just before the attack,” I answer her. “Spyke told me that he told my bro that I was in the Splatfest.” That was mildly confusing to say. “Then bro went looking for me.”
“Did you see him?” #2 asks me seriously. I shake my head sadly. The girls both take deep breaths then share a disappointed look. #1 lets go of my arm.
“I’m glad you told us,” admits #2. “I don’t think this will be an easy mission for you.”
“Figured,” I bluntly reply and I grab my head in frustration. “I just wish that I knew why he decided to turn traitor!”
Agent #2 agrees. “So do we. We have a lot of questions for him, but we need to catch him first.”
#1 nods. “Right.”
After a few minutes I find a place to sit and wait for the others to arrive. It doesn’t take them long. Soon, the other Agents show up, all ready to start the mission. We quietly await our orders.
“Now that we are all here,” Agent #1 addresses my squad, “We should recap what the plan is.”
#2 takes up the talk. “Mud has asked us to help him return the Great Zapfish to it’s rightful place in Inkopolis. We are to meet him at Salt Spray Rig, but that’s all we know, so… Any questions?” The agents shake their heads. “Good. Let’s go.”
Our group sets out. At first, no one, not even agents #6 and #1, speak. Once again, I end up next to #5, his arm around my shoulder. It’s comforting. After a few minutes, I whisper to him what Spyke said of my brother. He doesn’t speak until I’m done. His expression is grim.
“That’s not good,” notes #5. “A traitor was walking around Inkopolis and looking for you. I understand he’s your brother, but he shot you, point blank, with a poison dart. If he’s looking for you, you could be in danger.”
I swallow hard then say, “I know, but I still want to find him.”
“We all do, but please be careful,” requests #5. He holds me a little tighter as we walk. “I really do not want you getting hurt.”
“I’ll be careful. Trust me.”
Agent #5 smiles down at me. He’s so tall. “I do trust you. I trust you with my life.”
My face grows slightly warm. I look ahead before saying, “And I trust you with mine.”
When we squids arrive at the rig we find it quiet. Nobody is around. By instinct, my grip tightens around my weapon.
“Where is he?” inquires #5.
Agent #1’s answer sends chills through me. “No doubt, already watching us,” she says.
#2 steps forward. “I’ll call him out….” She cups her hands around her mouth and shouts, “HhhheeeeEERRRREEEEE SQUISHY SQUISHY SQUISHY!”
We are all caught off guard by this strange call.
“What the splat was that?!” exclaims #6
Agent #1 grins, “His call. To let him know it’s safe to come out.”
I face palm and #2 says, “It was his idea.”
“Why can I totally see that being the case?” I ask as I roll my eyes.
The distinct sound of a super jump echos from the far side of the rig. Mud lands with a thud, right in front of the team.
He straightens up and smiles. “Hey guys, glad you could make it!”
#2 smirks. “This must be important,” she notes, “you rarely ask for our help on a mission.”
Whitemud nods. “It is. This could be our biggest mission to date. That’s why I need all of the team on the job.” He turns his attention to the other agents. “How are you guys doing after that last mission?” It’s obvious he means the night on the boat.
“Fine.” I answer.
He nods again. “Cool. Cool.”
“So what’s going on?” asks #1.
Mud gets serious. “The power, that’s what! After the Zaplfish was stolen I managed to track the Octarians to Strong Hold in Octo Valley.”
“Oh, I hate that place,” scowls Agent #2.
I nod in agreement. “Same.”
Mud raises an eyebrow in surprise. “You’ve heard of it?” he asks.
“Yes. My friend has told me about it before,” I reply. At the thought of my friend an alarming idea comes into my mind.
“It’s a bad place.” Mud tells the other three agents soberly, “It’s a triple function base. It’s a power plant, war factory, and a prison.”
“P- prison?!” gasps #5.
“More like work camp,” #2 contradicts Mud. “The prisoners are put to work in the power plant and factories.”
“And… this place is run by Octarians, correct?” #5 continues.
#1 rolls her eyes. “Uh, yah. Who else would run it?”
“Just double checking!” He looks over at me and I nod.
My mind is racing. What if that is the place where my Octoling friend is being held!?
“For now,” Mud cuts into my thoughts, “we will go to a hide out I have it Octo Valley. From there, I’ll go over the details.”
I nod. Then we agents head to Octo Valley. Agents #1 and #2 talk with Mud most of the way and #6 walks up beside me.
“Hey, are you ok?” she inquires. “You look… funny…”
“Huh? Oh… nothing… just… thinking,” I say. “I’m fine.”
She still looks concerned. I notice #5 give me a serious glance. He knows what I’m thinking. He may not know my friend or much about her, but he knows I care about her. And he knows exactly how my mind works.
I look away from him. She’ll be fine. Even if she is being held in a work camp.