We had landed in the Splatoon universe, ready to find the source. “Minna, be careful,” I cautioned. “In this universe, rising sea levels killed off the humans and allowed sea creatures to evolve to survive the land. The squids became Inklings while the octopi became Octarians with Octolings nearer to the head of the Octarian Hierarchy. Inklings generally have two tentacular clubs for hair while Octolings have four tentacles with their suckers facing out. We’re supposed to be dead, so we stick to the shadows.”
“Actually,” interjected Sophie’s voice, “I don’t think that’s necessary.”
“What makes you say that?” I quizzed.
“Remember Pestilence’s lecture on Multiversal Translations?” recalled Sophie.
“The thing where you would turn into a life-form that the foreign universe would accept within itself?” I inquired. I then realized where Sophie was going with this. I felt around the top of my head and realized that it wasn’t hair on top. It felt more like a squid’s skin. I ran my hand down an extension and held it up to my face to see a squid’s tentacular club. It was black, like my hair. “Do…I have an eye-mask?” I quizzed.
“Yep,” replied Sophie’s voice. I turned to see that she had changed into an Octoling whose tentacles were white. Colleen was a brown tentacled Inkling, Livia was a blue tentacled Inkling, Haitao was a black tentacled Inkling, Sheela was a black tentacled Octoling, Turretorg was a brown tentacled Inkling, X-PO was a grey tentacled Inkling, and Death was a white tentacled Octoling with a black hoodie over her tentacles. X-PO had NO balance whatsoever. I guess that’s what happens when you shapeshift from a flying box to a bipedal creature.
“How do you guys walk around with these things?!” he snapped.
“It takes a bit before we actually walk,” I explained. “In any case, you need help. Put your arm around my shoulder. Colleen, help me out here.” X-PO got his new arms around our shoulders as we helped him walk on two legs. After about an hour, he tried walking without aid. It took him two more hours to master it but he soon walked as I did. He could then focus on working with three extra digits on each hand since he usually had pincer-style claws. After X-PO got used to his new body, we entered a new area, a small shopping square of sorts. Inklings and Octolings were conducting their business, paying us no heed as we looked around. A big screen just flashed various advertisements for the shops there. “If I have it right,” I observed, “I’d say we’re in Inkopolis Square.”
“I was hoping we’d arrive at Inkopolis Plaza,” sighed Colleen. “The Square feels a little claustrophobic.”
“Then let’s find Death’s Source and get out of here,” I declared.
“Hey!” called a voice. An Inkling boy with green tentacles in a spiky hairstyle ran up to us. “You guys don’t look like you’re from around here,” he observed.
“We’re not,” I confirmed. “We’re just passing through.”
“Do you, at least, have a map?” quizzed the Squid/Kid.
“Well, no,” I admitted.
“Then Jason Ikamesh,” declared the Inkling as he pointed to himself, “accepts the burden of being your guide!”
“What?!” I yelped.
“I know,” remarked the kid, Jason, “it will be a tiresome duty, but I accept your offer with pride!”
“What offer?!” snapped Colleen, her accent getting thicker.
“No, please, no need to give a way out!” answered Jacob as if we had asked him to help us in the first place. “I accept the burden with…!”
“Kid, will you get out of here?!” snarled X-PO as he shoved Jason aside. “I don’t know what your deal is, but we never asked for a guide and we don’t need one! Our business is our own!” I then had a horrible flashback from the Vortech Wars, after Lord Vortech handed our butts to us in 1895 Hill Valley.
“X-PO, hold on,” I interjected. “We don’t know the area as well as he does. We NEED a guide. While I don’t appreciate the attitude he gave,” Jason gulped, “we need his help. Jason, we accept your offer to be our guide. In future, though, just ask. Don’t force it on someone.”
“Gotcha,” replied Jason. “So, where shall we start? The Crust Bucket? Ammo Knights? Headspace? The Deca Tower?”
“Hang on,” interrupted Haitao. “What’s with the screen?” He was talking about the screen on the tower, Deca Tower. An Inkling girl with short, white tentacles appeared on it, sitting in a moon-chair. She was holding a crown in her hands and her gold eyes had plus-shaped pupils. This was Pearl, one of the characters of Splatoon 2 and, right now, she looked sad.
“Hey, everyone,” she mumbled.
“Why is our Princess sad?” wondered Jason.
“As you may have heard,” continued Pearl, “Turf Wars have been cancelled until further notice. The reason is that strange monsters called Orcs are roaming the Turf Battlefields.”
“Orcs?” gulped Livia, remembering the last time she saw one.
“The Orcs have been taking prisoners,” Pearl went on, “two of which are the famous Squid Sisters. A more recent kidnapping was…was…” she sniffled and wiped her eyes before continuing, “was Marina Ida.” Gasps resounded around the square. “Right now,” Pearl continued, “the police have had no effect against the Orcs, nor have the military. Until these creatures are beaten back, all Turf War matches are cancelled.” She sniffled again. “Oh, Cod, Marina, I wish you’re…” the screen shut off to let Pearl cry in private.
“If the Orcs are here,” I guessed, “Sauron can’t be far behind. We need to find out where they’re coming from.”
“I’ve seen them,” offered Jason. “They’ve been coming out of Octo Valley.”
“…You’ve seen them?” I quizzed.
“I was wandering around Inkopolis Plaza,” explained Jason. “They attacked the place from a manhole near Inkopolis Tower. I only barely escaped. That was about two years ago.”
“The Orcs have been in this world for two years?” I gulped. “Isn’t there anyone with inter-dimensional tech to call for help here?!”
“It might only be two minutes by our time-scale,” remarked Colleen. “Remember, not all universes run at the same amount of time as ours. Some might be slower than slugs, others may be as fast as lightning.”
“Lacey’s recent lecture,” recalled Livia.
“The fact remains,” I countered, “Sauron’s forces have stayed here for too long. Jason, which way to Inkopolis Square?”
“This way, about 20 minutes,” replied Jason. “I’d offer the train but the Plaza’s station is closed.” He led us through the streets.
After about 20 minutes, dodging Orcs that wandered on our path, we arrived to see Inkopolis Plaza, the main hub of the first Splatoon game. Orcs had taken it over, turning it into a camp similar to the ones in Mordor. “Okay, we’ve seen it,” gulped Jason. “Now, let’s get…!”
“Let’s get them out of here,” growled Turretorg.
“Agreed,” I concurred. “Death, X-PO, will the translations be cancelled if we transform?”
“They will,” answered Death. “So, Jason will be seeing humans for the first time.”
“Just not the real me and Turretorg,” continued X-PO.
“In that case, you two hang back,” I directed.
“Why us?!” protested Turretorg.
“Because you can’t turn your arms into cannons and don’t have the missile launcher nipples,” answered Colleen.
“Fine, fine,” grumbled Turretorg. They hung back while we approached the Orc Camp.
“All right, Orcs!” I called, getting their attention. “You can start running back to Mordor, crying all the while! We’re here to stop you!” The Orcs, predictably, laughed.
“Run home, Stinklings!” jeered the Orc Captain.
“I think I see an Octo…” interjected another Orc.
“SHUT UP!” roared the Orc Captain. He then stepped forward. “Look, unless you’re here to discuss your world’s surrender, you’re just gonna be another prisoner here. We don’t have time for idiots to play hero.” I then got a good look at the Orc Captain’s face.
“You…look familiar,” I muttered.
“You probably saw me on the news,” remarked the Orc Captain.
“Er, Captain,” gulped a wimpier-looking Orc.
“Not now,” dismissed the Orc Captain.
“But, Captain,” stammered the newer Orc.
“What part of ‘not now’,” growled the Orc Captain, “did you not understand?!”
“Captain Gorshagh, I really must…!” insisted the new Orc. Wait, I know that name!
“I SAID NOT…!” roared the Orc Captain.
“Kiri!” I shouted. The Orc Captain, Gorshagh, turned towards me.
“…What?” he asked.
“That’s what I was trying to tell you!” explained the wimpier Orc. “They’re NOT native to this universe! Unlike us, they were translated!”
“Give me that pad!” snarled Gorshagh. He shoved the hapless Orc aside as he took the pad and scrolled through it. As he found the relevant data, his eyes went wide. He then gave his full attention to me. “…No!” he breathed.
“Hello, it’s me,” I giggled. “Megumi Hishikawa. When last we met, I was a princess that could only reach a mid-season upgrade. Wanna see a Queen’s Final Form?”
“YOU WON’T GET THE CHANCE!” roared Gorshagh. He stuck his arm up into the air as his Zecter flew into his hand. “HENSHIN!” he shouted. He then slid the Zecter, head first, into his belt buckle.
“Henshin,” repeated the Zecter. His bulky armor then appeared. Kamen Rider Kiri was back! He leveled his arm guns at us.
“Catch us if you can!” I taunted. “BREAK OFF!” Everyone ran out of range and equipped their respective belts, prompting a lot of them to announce, “Vortex Driver!” in their masculine tones while Colleen’s announced, “Chronicle Driver!” in its feminine tone. Colleen then pressed a hidden button on the belt and took out a small book, her Armor Auto-bio. The belt popped a shelf upwards for the book to rest on. The rest of us inserted our i.d tags. Colleen struck her pose after inserting her Armor Auto-bio.
“HENSHIN!” we all called. We Vortex Riders spun the wheels on our belts while Colleen pushed the shelf down and Death rotated the skull to an upright position.
“Death!” announced her belt.
“Open!” called Colleen’s belt. “Turn! Imagine! The Hammer of Slam!” A book opened behind her and spat out her armor pieces, evoking a Gaelic soldier, as a blue mist changed her dress into an undersuit. The armor and helmet then attached themselves to her as her hammer materialized in the air near her right. She grabbed it and joined the fray as Kamen Rider Slam! We avoided the shots Kiri was firing from his arm mounted guns.
“Too slow!” he snarled to himself. He then pulled the Zecter’s arms away a tad, allowing his armor to his and come away slightly. “Cast off!” he ordered. He then pulled the arms all the way back.
“Cast off!” repeated the Zecter. His armor flew off to reveal his slimmer Rider form. “Change Mantis!” announced the Zecter.
“Now THERE’S an idea!” called Slam. She took out an Armor Bio and replaced her personal one with it. She then closed the shelf and another giant book appeared behind her.
“Open! Turn! Imagine! The Speed of Kabuto, Rider Form!” called the Chronicle Driver.
“Cast off! Change Beetle!” announced the Kabuto Zecter’s voice. Slam’s armor changed to evoke Kamen Rider Kabuto.
“Clock Up!” she ordered.
“Clock Up!” shouted Kiri.
“Clock Up!” announced the voices of two Zecters. They both disappeared. The rest of us continued fighting the other Orcs. I then took out another i.d. tag and swapped my own for the new one.
“Gandalf Steel!” called my belt as the wardrobe changed my armor to evoke the Grey Wizard. I used magic to flashbang the Orcs so the others could get clean hits on them.
“Clock Over!” the voices of two Zecters finished as Kiri and Slam came back with Kiri holding his arm. Slam then swapped the Kabuto Armor Bio for her own.
“Open! Turn! Imagine! The Hammer of Slam!” called her belt. She then pressed the button on top. “Final Pen Stroke!” announced her belt.
“Rider Slam Kick!” called Slam as she leapt into the air and performed a flying kick to Kiri’s face. Kiri was knocked silly as the Kiri Zecter flew out of his belt, revealing Gorshagh. We all looked around to see nothing but unconscious Orcs on the ground of Inkopolis Plaza.
“Good work, guys,” I praised as we cancelled our transformations. “We should probably hide ourselves again. Drivers off.” We took our belts off. “Honestly,” I continued, “I never got the chance to turn into a squid. This could be fun!”
“Er, Megumi,” gulped Colleen. I didn’t pay attention.
“I think I’m gonna visit a tentacle stylist,” I figured aloud. “I liked the shorter tentacular clubs offered in the second game.”
“Megumi, I think you should.” interjected Sophie.
“Maybe we should try out some Turf…!” I continued.
“MEGUMI!” shouted Haitao.
“What is it?!” I snapped only to see that Haitao didn’t turn back into an Inkling. I gave everyone a glance to see that none of us were Inklings or Octolings. “Er, Death,” I quizzed, “what’s going on? Why aren’t we humanoid cephalopods again? Our species isn’t exactly around in this universe. We need to…”
“FRIENDS!” boomed Turretorg’s voice. He came running up to us in his usual shape carrying X-PO’s usual body in his arms. “X-PO’s been attacked!” revealed Turretorg. X-PO was severely damaged! Death pulled back her left sleeve to scroll through her smart-watch, fearing the worst. She then sighed in relief.
“He’s not dead,” she assured us. “Something screwed with his power distribution circuits. He’s damaged but, thankfully, his core memory and mind ARE intact. They’re just in a protective lockdown until the damage can be repaired. Thank goodness the Doctor and her previous incarnations installed self-repair functions and circuits into him after Shocker Rift attacked Vorton.”
“I thought they installed a transmitter so he could beam himself into the nearest electronic device that could store him,” recalled Livia. “Why didn’t he transfer out of that body?”
“The Doctor DID say an empty shell would make the self-repair work go faster,” I supplied.
“Whatever did this went for his transmitter first,” answered Death. “It’s shot. He couldn’t transfer out if he wanted to. Let’s get him…” She didn’t get far as electricity ripped through all of us, stunning us and knocking us unconscious.
I stepped out of Spyke’s old alleyway, holding a small remote in my hand. The Orcs were picking themselves up, some shoving others off of them. Gorshagh caught sight of me. “Took you long enough!” he barked.
“It needed to charge,” I replied. I then called up someone on my squidphone. The person picked up. “Good work, Agent 8,” I called. “The Stunner only affected our targets, not the Orcs.”
“Look,” replied Agent 8, “are you SURE we should do this?” Gorshagh heard that and curled his lips into a snarl.
“If we had a choice, we’d say no,” I answered Agent 8. “But, like I just said, we don’t have a choice. Tell our bosses we’re ready. The Orcs and I will bring the Vortex Riders and their allies to Octo Valley. Agent 7 out.” I ended the call.
“Smart move, Jason,” chuckled Gorshagh. He then turned to the other Orcs. “GET THEM TO CAMP, MAGGOTS!” he bellowed. The Orcs picked up our targets and we headed down the manhole to Octo Valley.
I groaned as I stirred awake. “What hit me?” I winced.
“I did,” replied Jason as he stepped out of the shadows. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to do this.” It was then I noticed I was still human and now tied up in ropes.
“Okay, bondage isn’t exactly my kink!” I hissed. “What’s going on here?! …YOU knocked us out?”
“…Yes,” sighed Jason.
“Why did you do that after we stomped Gorshagh’s unit?” I inquired as everyone else, aside from X-PO, much to my worry, woke up.
“THEY asked me to do this,” replied Jason cryptically. “I couldn’t say ‘no’. I owe them.”
“Owe who?” asked Livia. “Who are you talking about?”
“My four bosses,” answered Jason. “OUR four bosses.” Just then, his accomplices stepped forward. A female Octoling; Agent 8, Pearl, a taller female Octoling with black tentacles and teal tips; Marina, a female Inkling with smaller tentacular clubs; Agent 4, a male Inkling with his tentacles tied into a ponytail; Agent 3, a female Inkling in a kimono that Enka singers used to wear with her tentacles tied in a diagonal bow so the clubs pointed to her left shoulder; Marie of the Squid Sisters, and a female Inkling with long tentacles tied in a bow; Marie’s cousin and fellow Squid Sister, Callie all appeared out of the shadows.
“Wait, the Squid Sisters of all people are in on this?!” yelped Livia.
“I can’t pretend to understand any of this,” remarked Death.
“We HAD to,” replied Marie, sadly. “We had no choice.”
“Who would want all this? Octavio?!” I interrogated.
“You’re a quarter of the way there,” burbled a voice. A giant flying machine with two fists floated in. Inside it was a pool of purple Octarian ink and a DJ’s turntable. The one piloting it was a giant red-violet Octopus with glowing green eyes and blue surrounding the pupil, a green x-scar on one of the tentacles folded across the front, and a large, gold, kabuto style helmet. There were a lot of wasabi stalks in the machine, flanking the Octopus. This was DJ Octavio, the Octarian King. A human then approached us. He dressed in black with red highlights and was of Japanese descent. I remember him from Hiroki talking about Kamen Rider Gaim. He was the secondary rider, Kaito Kumon. Another human appeared, dressed in green, wearing a bowler hat, and a green eye-mask with a gold cane topped with a question mark. I remembered him, the Riddler. One last human approached. Actually, I shouldn’t say human. From what I recall from Gandalf, this one was NOT human. His helmet was off, revealing a raven-haired man with an icy handsomeness, but the armor and helmet were very distinctive, as was the gold ring on his finger. It was the Master of the Orcs, the Dark Lord of Mordor, Sauron!