Moon-Man Chronicles 2 Electric Boogaloo.
Part Two: The Turf Wars.
As Ross followed the strange youth out of the train station, they began their journey into the sunlit thoroughfares of the city.
She walked a few steps behind the older boy, looking at the eccentric buildings on the street level, while her chaperon navigated the well packed side streets with the expertise like a tailor weaving the needle. Ross saw many entrances to businesses selling random merchandise, from what she assumed were the newest generation of cellular devices, to furniture dealers. She walked onwards and realized the boy stopped moving at the start of an alleyway. She hastened her pace back, dodging fellow inklings who were window shopping. When she caught up with the trench coat wielding boy, she was surprised by him suddenly grabbing her wrist. She felt his calloused, iron grip as he physically dragged her through the empty alleyway. She was about to fight back before he heaved her into a sea of Inklings.
Ross felt herself being pushed and shoved left and right by the crowd's traffic. He pulled her through the crowd by sheer force, bringing her face to face after a short period.
He shouted over the din of the crowd, pointing with his free hand at the four stores that lead to a tower with two iron squids making a large 'X' over the entrance of the glass doors.
"SHOES, SHIRTS, HATS, GUNS." He barked, getting some strange looks from passing Inklings, however these observers made no attempt at releasing her from this violent tour guide.
Before Ross could catch her breath, she was being dragged full force once again, this time to the tower itself. When they got to the ramp leading up, the boy had relinquished his grip and had moved into the dark room itself. Ross rubbed the feeling back into the red marks that had been left on her skin, and watched from the entrance as he strode through a pack of inklings dressed similar to her. Leading this pack was a kid with a giant roller whom had stopped to watch her guide make his way hurriedly through the small group.
After a brief chat between the two, the roller-boy beckoned Ross over with a wave and the first authentic smile she had seen all day. Ross felt inclined to meet him, awkwardly moving through the mob.
"Hey there, I'm Bojable. What's your name?" The self-proclaimed 'Bojable' asked.
"Um, Ross." She said, looking at how the group of fellow inklings had surrounded her. Her escort standing a little behind Bojable, almost a head shorter than the roller.
"Hi Ross, I'm gonna' explain some things to you and the other new kids right now," Bojable said before directing himself to everyone around her. "Now that you all know where the stores are, the way we earn money is by participating in the so called 'Turf Wars.' I won't spoil all the fun, but I will tell you when you queue up for the games, your goal is usually to cover the most ground in your team color's ink. You've got about four or five hours before our homes open up. So once you sign up your name on the little computer there, talk to the cat and he'll lead you guys to your battle arena."
After his brief gesturing, the pack followed him to the many little sign-in stations that were set up in the lobby of the tower. As Bojable continued explaining, many other kids dressed much differently than the group passed by. Over on the small sign in screens it showed the two battle areas currently available, and the group watched as the older kids picked their battles, and moved to two sets of small doors, where a large fat cat-thing lounged on a marble podium. He ushered eight inklings at a time, stopping others from going in with two flags. The doors would close, then open again after their rims would change colors.
"They have lockers in the waiting area before the battle starts, so feel free to dump your stuff there, like extra guns, different clothes, random things you've brought. The matches should only be three minutes long and after that you can take a small break before playing again. Just make sure to sign out by exiting the station once you're done." Bojable explained, after which he took several breaths of air.
Ross watched as some of the braver kids moved immediately to some of the screens. Bojable began speaking once more, explaining that for first timers, they'd have to make an account and give themselves a title. This title could be changed any time they wanted, so don't waste time by trying to think of a cool name.
When it came to Ross's turn, she thought briefly before just putting her own name down. After which, she picked the map that looked like some oddly shaped bowl, and began to move towards Bojable and her guide.
The two were having a hushed conversation while Bojable wasn't pressed with any other kid's needs. She took the chance to eavesdrop, hearing Bojable's response to a question she didn't hear.
"Joe Bob's Shab shack? Yeah, I'll go, give me like, ten minutes to get these guys on their way." Bojable said nodding to the affirmed sunglass wearer. Her original guide went to leave after glancing at Bojable and Ross hiding behind him. The boy then turned and left the tower, without turning back.
Bojable also turned, running into Ross, to which he shouted in surprise.
"Whoa jeez, hey Ross. What's up?"
"I was wondering…" Ross thought on whether to ask about the stranger, since Bojable obviously knew him, but thought better of it.
She instead asked about how to find her first home and whether he'd join up with anyone, already knowing the answer to the second question.
"Oh, well, it says your address is on the Sea Watch Boulevard, which is like, four stops away if you take the train you took to get here. From there it should just be finding the address itself, but I know that street only has one row of buildings, so just look for the number on the side of the buildings." Bojable said, using his finger as a pointer along her map. "And no, I'm a bit too high in the tiers to join you guys. Most kids in my tier are a bit… eh, ruthless." He finished with a sad smile.
Bojable stayed true to his word, and watched Ross and the last of the new kids take their first steps into their first ever Turf War. She shouldered her bag, and gripped her Splattershot Jr. tightly, a mixture of anticipation, fear, and uncertainty glowing in her eyes.
Moon-Man Part 2.5
Moon-Man had waited for Bojable to finish his job of sending the new kids to their first taste of battle.
After which, the pair made their way back to the train station from which Moon-Man had picked up the new kid. They chatted lightly on their wait and during the 'eventual' train ride to the restaurant quarter, where there were roughly seventy different dining locations where all of the city's inhabitants could get some food, and socialize. There were some chains where they'd only allow in specific races usually due to the food being sold, and in the Inklings' case, if they gave out water to drink.
For some reason, only Inklings were hurt by the stuff, and other creatures could drink as much as they wanted. She had heard stories about how some creatures even do an activity called 'swimming' where they would intentionally dive into large pools or even the sea itself, and stay afloat for hours.
Joe Bob's Shab Shack, however, had become the gang's favorite place recently. More for the privacy than anything else. The establishment was run by an old Crustacean named Joe-Bob, who was the spitting image of a pirate, down to the hat and eye patch. The place had an inside bar, with a huge booths meant for his large customers. Its storefront had a small fenced off area where one could sit outside, enjoy the breeze, and stare at the ocean.
Needless to say, with its proximity to the sea, it was almost always empty of Moon-Man's fellow inklings, making it the perfect place to talk somewhat openly about their city.
Joe-Bob had asked what the kids were doing in his Shack once, and after telling him of how other places suck, they had obtained his sagely nod.
The old Crusty Joe-Bob, and his Shab Shack were at once open to their patronage, even after he was forced to put up a sign saying that he wasn't allowed to serve Inklings. That was only brought up because he sold a drink with alcoholic content to the dock workers who would show up later during the evening once they got off their shift. Until then, Joe-Bob would let them stay and cook some of his fried foods, as they were nearly his only lunch crowd, excluding dock workers who were on their break.
So after the train ride, and their brief walk to the Shack, Bojable and Moon-Man met up with Catherine and Tome who were already seated, plotting their next move on how to recruit two new team members for their upcoming ladder fight.
Tome was making grumbling noises, crossing names off a list, from what Moon-Man could see.
Bojable scooted into the booth, sitting across from Tome as the angry lad kept doodling without even registering the new arrivals existences. Moon-Man sat across from Catherine, who was reading the names off a list which she had assumed was a copy of what Tome was scribbling on.
"XxNewStarxX?" Catherine asked.
"Spoken for." Tome replied, crossing another name off his list.
"AnnexWhales?" She responded.
"He's a dongler." Tome stated.
"Not-The-Eyes?" Catherine quipped.
"Has no want to participate." Tome sighed mockingly, continuing his process.
"Ha. BeanisLord?" Catherine said, smiling at the innuendo.
"I can ask," Tome said, circling the name before clicking his pen's top multiple times. "Sup?" He asked Bojable and Moon-Man.
"Nothing much man," Bojable stated, waving Joe-Bob over, who was busy tending a small band of Crustaceans.
"I've burned through the last lead I had," Moon-Man flatly proclaimed, waiting for Joe-Bob to crawl his way over.
Waiting in silence at the news, she felt Catherine's stare bore into her, but chose to ignore it, and watch the old shrimp swagger his way towards their booth.
"Wateryahavin?" the old being slurred, Moon-Man sensing the pun in his speech.
Bojable ordered something edible, without drink. Moon-Man however, was feeling dangerous, and ordered a 'Creature-Slush' which was supposed to contain random lesser aquatic animals blended together.
"WithiceIpresume?" The shrimp joked.
"Funny for a half dead cyclops." Moon-Man retorted
"Icestillseawhatyadidthere." The Crusty Pirate jested before sauntering off to his kitchen to prepare the food.
Moon-Man barked a dry laugh, and was stared at by her group.
Tome stared blankly at her saying, "I don't know how you understand him so well."
She looked to Catherine and Bojable, who told how they shared his opinion through their awkward glances. Moon-Man was actually somewhat shocked that they couldn't understand his slurred words. It wasn't that hard to decipher.
"So anyways," Catherine asked, reaching for Moon-Man's hand, only finding table. "You ran down your last lead?"
Moon-Man wondered why Catherine was always up on her all of a sudden. She wished she had a word to show exasperation in a simple and blunt matter, like a four letter word that could be used in any sentence. The need for Catherine to get off her grill was making her exhausted.
"Yeah, no one's talking in his apartment, his old friends don't know jack, all they know is that he kept to himself and didn't act strange. How could he have left zero foot print?"
"What has your crazy person wall told you?" Tome asked, as if he knew about her crazy person wall.
Moon-Man stared down Catherine, who must have spilled, Bojable looking at the exchange.
He softly asked, "You have a crazy person in your wall?"
"No, no, no. She's the crazy person." Tome clarified for Bojable.
"I'm not crazy, nor do I have a crazy person wall." Moon-Man tried to correct.
"Catherine told me she was worried, and I quote, 'about Moon-Man's crazy person wall.'"
Catherine slapped him in the face with one of her tentacles, more exclaiming than shouting, "This is why no one trusts you with things you freaking snitch!" She continued her assault striking with all limbs available.
Joe-Bob made his return, planting a sizzling plate of fried food in front of Bojable, and a large plastic cup of orange and gray matter before Moon-Man.
He laughed like a mad dog at the exchange between Catherine and Tome, while accepting payment from the two who had ordered things. Making the payment, the salty crustacean absconded to the safety of his counter, where he started reading some book.
As Bojable went at it full force, Moon-Man casually sipped the chunky drink, realizing it was surprisingly good. Tome was fighting off Catherine to little success, but was managing to change the subject.
"Anyhow-OW. Will you get off of me? Why is there no word I can just casually say to show my disdain at things?! STOP. GET. OFF. OF. ME." He began shouting, until Catherine had managed to gain some control of herself, and release her grasp on the boy squid.
"As I was saying," Tome said, staring down Catherine while rubbing his face, readjusting his freshness, and clearing his throat. "We're still looking for two more people for the team battles." He said, forcefully hinting something to Moon-Man.
"Not interested." Moon-Man said with irritation in her throat.
"Are you just done with Turf Wars all together?" Tome asked, bringing up something usually left untouched in their group dynamic. Even Bojable looked disgruntled with a mouthful of food.
"Why don't you shut up while you're ahead, before I pick up on where Catherine left off?"
"What is with you people and violence?" Tome asked, exasperated.
"We've got a paci-fish, so we have to pick up the slack." Catherine said, pinching at Tome's cheek.
"Woman, stop." Tome said, swatting her hands off him. "But seriously, you've lost more than that one time, it's been like, more than a year now. Get back on that seahorse already."
"I'm not playing for your stupid team, I've got better things to do." Moon-Man spat disdainfully.
"One, its Catherine's stupid team too. Two, you just said you've run down your last lead. You've figuratively and literally don't have better things to do. What are you going to do now? Search the sewers from top to bottom?" Tome asked bitterly.
Silence filled the table, Moon-Man not meeting anyone's gaze as she drank her slush in long gulps.
"Wait, you're not seriously going to do that, right?" Catherine pleaded.
Moon-Man just realized that she had drawn each person's stare, so she kept drinking.
"Moon-Man, that place is a maze, and dangerous." Bojable chimed his own worries in with the other two.
She stood up from the table, cup still on lips as she continued chugging, but eventually had made her container empty. She eventually slammed the plastic cup down with a very anti-climactic sound, and inhaled sharply.
"If that is all, I'll be leaving." Moon-Man stated, heading for the door.
Catherine followed behind her. She heard Tome remark something about women, and Bojable grunt as they left.
As the two made their way back the way Moon-Man had originally came from, she watched as the sea came in and out with the tide, making quite the spectacle in the blue sky. She also felt Catherine grasp her entire right arm, and had to fix her gun sling to compensate.
"Why are you always hanging onto me all the time? You're going to give people the wrong impression." Moon-Man said coldly.
"Let them think how they want. You look boyish enough to give people the right idea," Catherine said, messing with Moon-Man's tentacle band that was binding the two together.
She glanced down at the smiling girl beside her, wondering what that was supposed to mean. She eventually settled for, "You better not be telling people things."
"Telling who? Your tentacular neighbors?" Catherine asked, which made Moon-Man wonder if she had actually been keeping in touch with her 'fantastical' neighbors.
Those two jellyfish were infinitely better than those other inklings that had moved in.
"Yes, those people exactly." Moon-Man stated.
"Well, I haven't been. But those new kids down stairs are wild, aren't they?"
"Yeah. That one kid has impeccable vision. He's been onto me since the first moment."
"Which kid? The tall, short, or girl?" Catherine asked, naming off the three new neighbors Moon-Man had recently procured.
Although Moon-Man had kept her distance to the point where she didn't even bother learning their names, she was occasionally forced into making small talk with them when they blocked the stairs.
"I don't know. The tall one, I guess." Moon-Man said, "He was rocking that ugly striped shirt."
"Yeah, that was the tall one. Real ladies' man that one was." Catherine snorted.
"I'm gonna start hitting on him if you don't get. Off. Me." She threatened, starting to throw her arm back and forth for freedom. Eventually obtaining sweet liberation from the horrid grasp of her friend.
"No you won't, you're boy shy." Catherine said, initiating an attempt at the mostly dodged, 'girl talk.'
"I am not. I hang out with Bojable and Tome all the time. That's not boy shy." She said, bringing up the fact that their crew was half and half. Basic math proved that she wasn't boy shy.
"Okay, well Bojable is harmless, and you don't hang out with Tome. Tome hangs out with me, and you have to deal with him. You hate his guts, remember?"
"Oh yeah. I had forgotten that he was a total coward and has garnered zero respect from anyone. Ha." Moon-Man said, grinning evilly.
"Right? Totally spineless. I can't wait to see what happens when I break him. I'm hoping he'll evolve into a pyscho-berserker."
They laughed and laughed, joking at the expense of Tome. Good times were had by the two as they navigated their way to the open markets.
Editor's notes: Snake doesn't like my big words.
Sidenote: Poor Tome… Hah.