Unwanted House Guest - Part 10: The Little Inkling Asks
Tetrox fumed down the streets of Booyah Base. She was angry, upset, irritated, agitated, frustrated, and overall in a bad mood. If a can were to roll in front of her, she wouldn’t hesitate to kick it as hard as she could. By now the lunch rush was in full swing, so not as many Inklings were out and about as most of them had gone to eat. This left Tetrox alone with her thoughts.
“That lousy, no good, rotten, so-and-so is the worst! His stupid, prejudiced, Octarian-hating self can jump in a river for all I care! That bottom-feeding, low-life alley catfish ain’t know a good thing in front of him if it bit him in the butt!”
Tetrox finally sat down on a bench in a secluded corner of Booyah Base. Shadows from the nearby walls obscured it from view. It was an excellent spot to sit and stew without anyone glaring. As Tetrox sat, she scowled and continued feeling angry. However, sooner than later, her scowl turned into a frown and her eyes no longer had the fire and anger that they once had just a couple minutes ago. Tetrox slumped forward and looked at the ground. From inside of her, another voice chimed in to counter her inner rage.
In the end… it’s better this way for him, isn’t it?”
the voice in her head chimed in with a very gentle tone,
“It ain’t wrong for him to not trust Octolings and think of them as being sneaky snakes… if he’s right.”
Tetrox looked straight down with the bobble on her hat falling over and dangling in front of her eyes.
“The whole point was to lure him in, right? Get him all caught up in your spider crab’s web? Make him fall head over tails for yah? And then… when the time came…”
Tetrox’s thoughts were interrupted by a small buzzing. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out her OctoPod. A text message had just come through and Tetrox knew exactly who it was from. She entered the unlock code for it and checked a special texting app that had been installed. She decided to go over the messages she had received while no one was around. She looked over them from the oldest to the most recent.
“POWER BACK ONLINE AFTER TYPHOON. ALL COMMUNICATIONS CHANNELS ARE OPEN AGAIN. HAS YOUR INFILTRATION BEEN SUCCESSFUL!? PLEASE RESPOND!”
Tetrox thought to herself that while Arnick’s stiff, military attitude was really unbearable, it was nothing compared to the lady with her nose stuck up so high she could inhale clouds. She deleted the text and went to the next one.
“IT HAS BEEN OVER 24 HOURS SINCE WE LOST CONTACT! IS THE MISSION PROCEEDING OKAY?! PLEASE RESPOND!”
This lady was always such a pain. She always kept going on about missions this and missions that, and Tetrox could never get her to just shut up about it. She deleted that text too and went to the next one. Tetrox gave a weak smile to see that she had finally cracked.
“CODDAMMIT TETROX! ANSWER YOUR FLIPPING POD ALREADY! I KNOW YOU SURE AS SHELL ARE GETTING THESE BECAUSE I CAN SEE YOU ON THE GEO LOCATOR!”
This one was dated from last night, right before she went to sleep. Once again, Tetrox deleted the message. She went on to check the last one that had just come through. It was clear the messenger was pissed, but her anger no longer amused Tetrox.
“LISTEN YOU! I CAN SEE YOU’RE AT BOOYAH BASE! WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! SHOPPING?! WE HAVEN’T GOTTEN A SINGLE REPORT FROM YOU! IS THE GREAT ZAPFISH GUARDED?! WHAT KIND OF SECURITY PROCEDURES ARE THERE?! DO WE NEED THE SAME FORCES LIKE LAST TIME, OR WILL WE NEED MORE TROOPS?!”
Before Tetrox could finish reading it, another text came in.
“IT JUST SAID YOU RECEIVED THAT LAST MESSAGE! IT’S ABOUT TIME YOU LOOKED AT THESE! THEY ALMOST SENT AN ENTIRE SPLATOON TO RETRIEVE YOU AND TERMINATE THE MISSION! I SAY ‘ALMOST’ BECAUSE, UNLIKE SOME OTHER OCTOLINGS HERE, I ACTUALLY SOMEWHAT, SORT OF, KIND OF TRUST THAT YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING! IT TOOK ME A GOOD TWO HOURS TO GET THEM TO CALM DOWN AND GIVE YOU SOME LEEWAY! I GO OUT OF MY WAY TO GET THE HIGHER UPS OFF YOUR ASS, AND THIS IS THE THANKS I GET?! WHAT GIVES?! ANSWER DAMMIT!”
Tetrox texted back:
“Shut up and leave me alone.”
The response was almost instant.
“EXCUSE ME!? WHAT THE DUCK DID YOU JUST SAY?!”
Tetrox responded back just as quickly.
“You heard me. I said, ‘Shut up and leave me alone.’ What part of that didn’t you understand?”
Tetrox could almost hear them screaming all the way out from Octo Valley, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Tetrox read that as “ARE YOU SQUIDDING ME?!” before remembering that Octolings don’t normally use Squid puns along with their other usual fish pun vocabulary. “I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAS GOTTEN INTO YOU, BUT YOU BETTER GET YOUR ASS BACK IN LINE AND REPORT!”
Tetrox casually responded with:
“Sorry. I ain’t really feelin’ it right now. Maybe later.”
“BULLSHARK! UNLESS YOU HAVE A CODDAMN GOOD REASON WHY NOT, I WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON AND I WANT TO KNOW IT NOW! THAT’S AN ORDER, TETROX!”
The two of them never got along. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was her superior, Tetrox wouldn’t even give her the time of day if she asked. But now she was really getting on Tetrox’s nerves even more so than Arnick was earlier. Worse still, Tetrox couldn’t quite figure out why.
“AND I DON’T GIVE A BILGE RAT’S ASS HOW YOU FEEL! YOUR FEELINGS SHOULDN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS AND YOU DAMN WELL KNOW IT! YOU HAVE A MISSION TO COMPLETE AND IN CASE YOU’VE FORGOTTEN, THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE! FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION, TETROX! I’VE COVERED YOUR ASS SO MANY TIMES BEFORE, I’M PRACTICALLY ANOTHER PAIR OF SHORTS FOR YOU BY NOW! BUT NOT EVEN I CAN SAVE YOU THIS TIME, TETROX!”
Tetrox was really getting tired of this nagging.
“I haven’t forgotten. I just don’t care. Not right now anyway. Ease up, will yah?”
“OH… OH SHEEEEELLLLL NO! YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BLOW THIS OFF! I WILL PERSONALLY COME OUT THERE AND DO THE MISSION FOR YOU IF I HAVE TO! AND IF YOU KEEP THIS ATTITUDE UP, I’M GOING TO REPORT YOU FOR TREASON! DO YOU HEAR ME?!”
Tetrox just typed back:
“Yeah, I hear you loud and clear, cap'n. Almost impossible not to with the way you’re yakking on. All I got to say is this.”
“AND WHAT WOULD THAT BE?!”
Tetrox hesitated for a moment before sending her next message. She knew that if she sent it, she would get all kinds of flack or worse later. Sending it would have given her a small sense of satisfaction, but a part of her told her that if she knew what was good for her, she’d just let it be. Another part, however, overpowered that feeling and hit the send button.
“Go kiss a leech.”
With that, Tetrox powered off the OctoPod and popped the battery out of the back of it. She promptly put the OctoPod and the battery back in her pockets before leaning forward and covering her face with her hands.
Elsewhere, an Elite Octoling was trying her hardest not to fling her keyboard against a wall. Instead, she grabbed an OctoStamp that was passing by and with a mighty throw, slammed it into the wall so hard that it took a few seconds before the OctoStamp began to slide downward. The OctoBall that was rolling alongside the OctoStamp was very glad she hadn’t decided to throw him instead.
As Tetrox hid her face in her hands, the voices in her head kept going back and forth.
“What in the Sam-Hay is wrong with you, girl?! Yeah, she has the personality of a great white during that time of the month, but she didn’t deserve that! You trying to get into even more hot water?!”
Now they were fighting with each other.
“Stop it! She’s never treated us like anything other than dirt. She don’t deserve any kindness if she ain’t gonna show us any.”
“Are you nuts or something? You know you gotta show respect in order to get some back!”
“Gee, that’s funny! Respecting folk is kind of the only thing we haven’t been doing to anyone ever since we got here! Or have you forgotten how we left Arnick there to that waitress?!”
“That creep deserved it!”
“NO HE DIDN’T! You know just as well as I do that we’ve been toying with him like an orca to a sea lion. Yer just sayin’ that so you don’t have to feel bad about it.”
“FEEL BAD?! Why in the whole wide world would we feel bad about it?! He’s an Inkling!”
“Maybe so, but he’s also the Inkling who took us into his home, fed us his food, went out of his way to buy us linens nicer than anything we’ve ever slept on, and even took the kindest, sweetest, most gentlest care of us when we were more frightened than a super sea snail next to a hungry urchin!”
“That don’t mean anything!”
“Just because you keep telling yourself that don’t mean it’s true! Or have you forgotten that you and I are one and the same, sugar?”
“Oh yeah, well what about when he jumped away from us so fast like we were some puffed up porcupine fish?”
“And what about how we just snuck into his bed without him knowing or, for that matter, his permission! Remember that whole respect thing we was talking about?”
“Well what about how he gave us such a hard time for walking around in nothing in our undies? He said to make ourselves at home, right?”
“There’s making yourself at home and then there’s just being a plain idjit. We don’t walk around OctoTroopers or anything in the bare like that! Remember that poor OctoBall that was walking past the barracks that one time when everyone was a changing?! Thing turned so red he nearly splatted himself right there and then!”
“FINE! Then what about when we asked him if we were pretty?! What about the Takoyaki?! What about all that?!” It was at this point that the tears began to form in Tetrox’s eyes.
I dunno! Maybe if we had bothered to stick around and find out, er would have known by now! Ain’t gonna learn nothin’ if you ain’t gonna give a fella a chance to talk! Poor thing hadn’t eaten all day and all we’ve done is scare the daylights out of him one way or another!”
“So what!? We shouldn’t care about none of that!”
“For once, I agree. We shouldn’t… but we DO!”
“I know! And I hate that so much! I just want…”
Tetrox’s tears began to fall as she stared at the ground. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed since she sat there on the secluded bench alone with her thoughts. The two sides of her head had been going back and forth for so long as she tried to understand what was going on inside of herself. But now it was all coming together, and her heart began to sink.
Simultaneously, the two voices spoke inside of her head at the exact same time with the exact same thing:
“I just want to push him away so I don’t have to hurt anymore.”
With that realization, Tetrox began to sob and could feel herself choking up.
I don’t get it! I just don’t get it! Why does being near that guy hurt so much?!”
“Maybe it’s because we don’t want to do to him what we were supposed to do?”
“But… if we don’t… then…”
“I know full well what it means, but y'know what… maybe that’d be for the best.”
“It… IT’S NOT FAIR!!!”
“No it ain’t.”
Tetrox was now perfectly aware of what she had done, why she had done it, and what the consequences of her actions were. None of it made her happy. All it did was make her miserable. She found herself wishing she was a hermit crab so she could hide away in her shell and just stay inside, alone from the rest of the world, for the rest of her life. But she knew that wasn’t an option. Everything was falling apart here in Inkopolis and back home in Octo Valley and it was all her fault.
It wasn’t until Tetrox felt a small tug at her shirt that she looked up.
“Excuse me? Are you okay?”
Tetrox looked down and saw a small, young Inkling girl looking up at her. She wasn’t in her fully humanoid form yet and was a bright cyan blue. The only clothes she had on were a pair of shorts like most all Inklings had. Any other clothes would have soaked through her not quite solid body. She didn’t even look like she was old enough to be in school yet. Tetrox wiped the tears from her eyes and tried to give a reassuring smile to the little Inkling.
“Yeah… *Sniff*… I’ll be okay, honey.”
“Really? You don’t look okay. You look like you’re crying.”
Tetrox managed a weak laugh as she realized this little girl was both very sharp and very blunt at the same time. “Okay. So maybe I am crying. What about it, sweetie?”
“You talk funny,” the little Inkling responded. Tetrox was not in the mood for sass from a little girl and was about to give a come back when the little girl added, “Was someone making fun of the way you talk? Is that why you’re crying?”
Tetrox was taken aback slightly by the little Inkling’s consideration. She probably could have phrased things in a more polite manner, but Tetrox was willing to give her some slack since she was still so young. “I appreciate the sentiment, darlin’, but…”
“I’m not 'darlin’’, I’m Ursy!” the girl interrupted.¹
Tetrox was starting to feel a little better. “Alright then. I appreciate the sentiment, Ursy, but that ain’t why I’m crying.”
“Then why are you crying?” This kid just did not let up with the questions. Tetrox found her behavior kind of cute. At this point, Tetrox no longer had tears in her eyes, but still had a stuffed up nose and a headache.
“I don’t really wanna go into it right about now, Ursy. But I am starting to feel a bit better.”
Ursy looked up to her and blinked, “Why’s that?”
Tetrox shrugged, “I dunno. Maybe it’s because you’re so gosh-darned adorable.”
Ursy put her arms on her hips and gave a big grin, “I am adorable, aren’t I! My sissy says I’m the cutest little Inkling she knows!”
“Your sissy, huh? You here shopping with her or something?”
“Yeah! We’re-” Ursy suddenly stopped as her glowing face became very somber very quickly as though she had just realized something terrible. She then looked down to the ground like she was about to cry. Tetrox caught on to this immediately.
“Hey now, what’s wrong, sugar?”
Ursy sniffed and looked at Tetrox with the saddest looking eyes an Inkling kid could muster, “I’m lost…” With that, Ursy began to cry a little. Tetrox scooted over and offered a seat on the bench.
“Awwww… c'mere, sugar. It’s okay. I’m sure your sissy’s around here somewhere.” Ursy was still rubbing her eyes as she walked over and sat next to Tetrox. As the little Inkling cried, Tetrox surveyed her surroundings and realized that she had no idea where she was right now either. She turned to Ursy and gave her a reassuring smile.
“Y'know, if it makes you feel any better, I’m lost too!”
Ursy sniffed and looked up at Tetrox, “Y- You are?”
“Yeah! I’m more lost than a clownfish in an anemone’s afro.”
Ursy giggled, “That’s a funny thing to say.” Tetrox smiled back at her.
“Tell yah what, since we’re both lost, how about we be lost together?”
Ursy was puzzled, “Lost together?”
“Yeah! Lost together,” Tetrox beamed, “I can help you find your sissy, and you can help me find my way around here! That sound okay to you, sweetie pie?”
Ursy wiped the tears away from her eyes and smiled wide back at Tetrox, “Yeah! That would be great!” suddenly Ursy gasped, “OH! But… I can’t.”
Tetrox tilted her head to one side, “How come, sugar?”
“You’re a stranger,” Ursy replied, “And sissy told me to never go off with strangers.”
Tetrox giggled. This girl was simply precious. “Sounds like your sissy’s got a good head on her shoulders.” Tetrox thought for a moment, “How about this then: if I tell you my name, then I won’t be a stranger no more, now will I?”
Ursy thought about that for a moment, “I guess not…”
“Okay then! My name’s Tetrox, Ursy. Pleased to meet'cha,” Tetrox extended a hand out to Ursy. Ursy extended her little blue tentacle-like arm and “shook hands” with Tetrox.
“It’s nice to meet you, Tetrox. You have a really pretty name.”
Tetrox smiled back, “Shucks, ain’t you the sweetest thing! Your sissy must be really lucky to have a little sister like you.”
“Yes she is!” Ursy beamed. Tetrox stood up and held her arm out to Ursy.
“Now, let’s go see if we can find yer sissy. We should go check the last place you saw her. Know where that is?”
Ursy stood up and placed her arm in Tetrox’s hand. With her other arm, she held her chin and thought, “Hmmm… I think the last place I saw her was at Cooler Heads.”
“Cooler Heads?” Tetrox asked, “That a store around here?”
Ursy gave an exaggerated gasp, “You mean you’ve never been there before! OH! You gotta see it! You gotta see it! It’s so much fun!”
Tetrox chuckled. This little girl was so sweet, she could give a beak cavities. “Alrighty then, Ursy. Lead the way!”
“You got it! Come on! This way!” and with that, Ursy tugged at Tetrox’s arm as she led the way to Cooler Heads.
Arnick was laying unconscious on a couch with two figures looming over him.
To Be Continued…
Written by Some Squid Named Steve
¹ Ursy belongs to Ask The Little Inkling
Tammy’s comments: aaw, that was just precious. Can’t wait to see what these two get into. And what’s going on with Arnick.