One of our researchers monitoring the Squid Sisters intercepted this top-secret report from the Inkling world.
About nine months have passed since the final Splatfest.
Twilight lowers its curtain on Inkopolis. Neon signs paint the dusk in brilliant shades of green and pink. The Squid Sisters dance on, as though driven by the Inkling love of battling for turf.
Memories such as these linger, vividly etched in my mind, but feel too like remnants of a long-forgotten past.
It happened the night the final Splatfest came to an end.
The showdown of Callie versus Marie ended in victory for Marie, but there was no ill will between the two. The girls left the studio arm in arm, smiling and laughing as they always had. The bond between them would continue, unbroken, for years to come.
Or so it seemed at the time...
The final Splatfest rocketed the Squid Sisters to new heights of popularity. Callie and Marie went from mere Inkopolis idols to the biggest stars in Inkling society, seemingly overnight. Their days became filled—from dawn to dusk—with the duties of this newfound fame.
Callie and Marie still lived in the first apartment they rented upon moving to Inkopolis. It had all happened naturally when they'd first arrived: being roommates made adjusting to city life easier, and besides, the two had been inseparable since they were young. But even after their finances had stabilized and they'd gotten used to the bustle of Inkopolis, they never gave a thought to living apart.
They were always together, both at work and at play. After releasing their first solo recordings, though, their work began to take them down separate paths more frequently. Callie, true to her outgoing nature, began to make guest appearances on variety shows. Filming would often continue late into the night, and many days she didn't return home at all.
Marie received critical praise for her recording of "Tide Goes Out" and became a frequent guest on music shows, in addition to performing live concerts on her own. Up to this point, whether heading out for the day or coming home at night, the two had always been together. Now, though, their different schedules meant they didn't see each other as often, even on their days off.
They spent more and more time apart with each passing day...
Marie was home alone. She'd gotten a day off, but with theater rehearsals starting up next month, she knew life would be returning quickly to its frantic pace. Chances to relax at home like this would soon become few and far between. Knowing work would keep Callie out late, Marie busied herself with the chores that always seemed to pile up and waited for her friend to return home.
At times like this, Marie's thoughts always seemed to drift...
"How had Callie truly felt when the results of the final Splatfest had been announced? She seemed disappointed, of course, but that was just because she'd lost...right? Or was she actually jealous of my rising popularity? Could she still be holding it against me after all this time?"
"Just listen to yourself, Marie—you're overthinking this. You know Callie would never feel that way. Maybe all this worrying has actually given you some sort of superiority complex. Maybe winning that final Splatfest has made you full of yourself."
The very idea stung Marie with a twinge of self-loathing...
One day Callie was awakened by a call on her cell phone—it was her manager. The recording session she had scheduled for the day had been delayed to accommodate a different performer. Callie found herself a bit thrown off by this unexpected break, but was determined to make the most of it.
Looking around the apartment, she saw no sign of Marie, which was odd—she was sure Marie had the day off as well. It was just past eight in the morning, too early for Marie to have gone shopping. Callie decided to get dressed and head out in search of her roommate. Now that she thought about it, Marie had seemed a bit down lately, like there was something on her mind she couldn't stop thinking about.
Maybe she was just tired from working too hard. Or maybe something had happened to upset her.
"But worrying about her all day won't fix anything," Callie thought.
Work had barely given her time to breathe lately—she'd been feeling a bit lost at sea herself. She made up her mind to find Marie and invite her out for a day of much needed relaxation.
Callie found Marie at a café with Crusty Sean. They were seated at a table, chatting away. Perhaps it was because their hometowns were so close to one another that Callie and Marie both found Sean so easy to talk to. Marie had been a bit shy when they had first come to the city, after all. Callie couldn't remember the last time she'd seen Marie talking so cheerfully with anyone besides her, and she didn't want to spoil their fun. She decided to head back to the apartment alone.
Callie was making breakfast when Marie came home. Marie looked a bit surprised to see Callie up and about but greeted her friend in stride.
Same old Marie, thought Callie. While they ate, Callie invited Marie to go shopping, and she gladly accepted.
How long had it been since they'd visited Arowana Mall together in their free time? They wandered past new stores and some of their old favorites, enjoying the leisure of window shopping. After checking out all the spots they were interested in, they'd worked up quite an appetite and stopped at a café for lunch. Callie ordered a burger, Marie a slice of pizza.
At times like this, talk turned naturally to the work they'd each been doing lately. They swapped stories of workplace happenings and gossiped about their costars. Each was concerned for the other, but neither wanted to darken the mood by discussing anything too serious. Callie decided to mention that she'd seen Marie at the café that morning. Marie seemed a bit caught off guard but began talking about her conversation with Crusty Sean without missing a beat.
It seems Sean had recently quit his job at Shrimp Kicks. He'd been the store manager there for years but had long dreamt of opening a place of his own. A friend introduced a new opportunity, and Sean went for it.
"I hope he'll be OK," Marie said with some concern. "He's always been a bit impulsive."
According to Crusty Sean, Annie had been looking for a new gig as well. Truth be told, she'd never been much of a people anemone and felt like she'd given retail the old college try. She'd been keeping busy recently, helping decorate weapons at Ammo Knights. The more she did it, the more she felt like this detail-oriented part-time job suited her perfectly.
"Do you think Annie and Sheldon...?!" Callie blurted out in excitement.
"No way," Marie said, smiling. "Not a chance."
It turns out Sheldon was busy himself, planning to expand Ammo Knights to a second location. He had his eyes on a prime spot in the part of town that was quickly becoming the new hotness for the Turf War set.
"That Sheldon has always had a nose for business," the girls agreed.
The conversation turned to Cap'n Cuttlefish, more precisely that neither of them had seen him lately. It was true that their schedules had kept them too busy to pay him a proper visit, but they hadn't seen his head poke out of the usual manhole recently, either. There was no real cause for alarm now that the Octarians had gone tame, and thinking of their grandfather gave them a good laugh. Surely the old rascal would turn up sooner or later.
They got lost in conversation, and time slipped away. When they noticed the sun beginning to set, Callie and Marie decided to head for home. They remembered just how much fun they always had when they were together.
"Fun" didn't quite do it justice, though. It was more than that—something special that made their hearts feel full.
They felt as though the clouds that had been gathering around them had suddenly blown clear…
Marie was packing clothes into her suitcase. She was getting ready for a trip home to Calamari County. The trip had come about somewhat suddenly thanks to finding herself with a rare three days off in a row! Rehearsals for her new show were scheduled to start after this, and she knew she wouldn't have time off again for a while. Her manager suggested some R&R would do her good, and sent her on her way.
Marie had invited Callie to join her, but Callie had an appointment she couldn't miss that day. So Marie decided to head out right away by herself so as not to waste her short vacation. Callie saw her off at the station, promising to catch up with Marie the following day. The train to Calamari County takes three and a half hours from Inkopolis, not an epic journey in the grand scheme of things. Still, without Callie by her side, Marie felt lonely, and the minutes ticked by interminably.
Marie hadn't been home in quite some time, and her parents were overjoyed to see her. They sat on the porch together, basking in the sun and whiling the day away as Marie told them all about her latest exploits in Inkopolis. She was reminded just how much she loved the place where she'd grown up. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the city, there might not be much happening, but the flow of time felt different here—it felt right. Marie took in a deep breath of fresh air, exhaled, and felt her worries and cares float away.
From time to time as she spoke, Marie's parents interjected with questions about Callie. Each time Marie replied that yes, of course, Callie was doing fine. But with each question she winced inwardly, as if pricked by an unseen needle.
"We're both just really busy with our own things, you know?"
As she struggled to answer her parents' questions in an upbeat fashion, she was struck by the realization that she really didn't know how Callie was doing at all.
But Callie would be coming the next day, she reminded herself, and one look at her face would quickly dispel these nagging feelings of guilt. Marie went to bed and waited for morning to arrive…
The next day found Marie waiting at the station for Callie's arrival. When the train pulled in, though, Callie wasn't on board.
"I bet she totally overslept again," Marie thought as she settled in to wait for the next train.
Callie was not on the next train though, nor the one after that, or the one after that. Night fell and there was still no sign of her.
Marie called Callie's office and was told that she'd headed straight home from work the previous evening.
"She seemed a bit flustered, but I figured she was just in a hurry to get back to Calamari County," Callie's manager said.
Marie tried their apartment several times, but no one picked up. Marie began to feel panic rising in her chest.
The following morning, Marie cut her trip short and returned to Inkopolis on the first train of the day. She hated to leave her parents so suddenly but couldn't shake feeling worried about Callie. Plagued by a sense of unease, she spent the whole trip on her phone, searching for some clue as to Callie's whereabouts. Her efforts failed to turn up anything to calm her fears.
When she arrived in Inkopolis, Marie headed straight for their apartment. The place looked exactly as she'd left it. In fact, there was no sign Callie had been home at all since Marie left for her trip. But if she hadn't come home, where could she have gone? After giving it some thought, Marie got an idea and hurried out of the apartment.
Quick as she could, Marie arrived in Octo Valley. Cap'n Cuttlefish's shack was completely deserted. The shack itself was undisturbed, but the snow globe that had stood beside it was a shattered wreck—pieces of glass littered the landscape. Callie was nowhere to be found, and the scene failed to offer up any clues. With a heavy heart, Marie made her way back to Inkopolis.
The city was buzzing with unbelievable news. The Great Zapfish had disappeared! It had vanished once before, but reappeared shortly thereafter.
The people of the city consoled each other, saying, "Chill out! It won't be gone long this time, either!"
Marie alone shivered in trepidation. "Could he possibly be at it again?"
Marie made up her mind get to the bottom of this.
But if their adversary was who she suspected, this problem would have no quick and easy solution. Cap'n Cuttlefish wasn't around to help this time. Her worry for Callie overshadowed everything, and before long, the squidizens of Inkopolis would begin to notice Callie's absence. If Marie were to disappear, too, at a time like this, it would only add to the chaos. But what else could she do?
There was no choice but to find help, and quickly.
Just as Cap'n Cuttlefish had done before, she would need to enlist a brave recruit to help investigate the depths of the Octarians' underground base. Thanks to her fame, though, Marie stood out like a sore tentacle in Inkopolis. She had to keep the number of people who knew about the new Octarian threat to a minimum. Secrecy and discretion were, after all, of the utmost importance when it came to the operations of the Squidbeak Splatoon.
Suddenly, the conversation she'd had with Callie at Arowana Mall came rushing back to her. Word on the street was that all the freshest Inklings were hanging out and battling for turf in a new part of town. Surely she could find someone there with the perfect blend of talent and bravery this daring task required.
Her mind made up, Marie set her sights on the new center of squid kid culture, Inkopolis Square!