PREFACE

K is for Kamabo is a reimagining of the Octo Expansion DLC that diverges from the source material heavily. From using the original, unpatched ending of Octo Canyon where Callie disappears, to avoiding convenient plot devices like amnesia, I've taken many liberties with how I present the story and world. Inspired by spy novels, this story features a serious and character-driven version of Octo Expansion's plot. Ultimately, I hope to spin a gripping, high-stakes tale that parallels a story I already love but gives me ample room to explore new ideas.

Thank you for choosing to read K is for Kamabo. This is a story that I've been sinking a lot of time and energy into, a story that I have been itching to tell. I have put great care into ironing out all the details so that you may have a more engaging experience. Please enjoy.

As always, I welcome all feedback. Please say hello and tell me what you think!


Thursday, 11:30 p.m.
Kamabo Co., Sector D10

The lone Octoling peered around a bend in the alleyway. With her back pressed to the wall, she listened for any sounds that might be coming toward her position, her red eyes scanning what little she could make out of the upcoming zone. Under the cover of night, she couldn't see much, but fortunately, neither could her foes.

She slipped around the corner, still up against the wall, and got a clearer view of her surroundings. The concrete buildings all around her shot high into the sky. Black towers blended into a black, starless expanse. Fifty feet in front of her was a metal railing, which marked the far end of the alley. Beyond that was a six or seven-foot drop to ground level, a boxed-in, square-shaped space that spanned roughly forty feet. At least three targets were patrolling the lower area—she could see the yellow glow of their flashlights up ahead. A cloud of light fog had also formed in the open space, clinging to the asphalt and obscuring her view of the square.

The blue-haired Octoling's job was simple: get in and get out safely. She took two more steps forward and dropped to the ground, crawling the rest of the way on her stomach. When she reached the metal railing, she stopped to listen again. She confirmed three targets: two right below the railing coming toward her position, and a third on the other side of the square.

When the first two targets came directly under her, the Octoling sprang up and vaulted over the railing. She landed on top of the first target with both feet, knocking it over. Then she lunged forward and jammed her elbow into the other, taking it out as well. A thin, red beam of light cut through the fog, locking onto the Octoling's chest. She dove behind a large wooden crate just as the third target took its shot, and an explosion pierced the silence of the night. From behind the crate, the Octoling popped out and bounded on all fours over to the other side of the square, a blur of green and blue. The third target had no time to load another round, and she gave it one swift strike.

The inflatable training dummy went down with a satisfying pop. Its mounted scope rifle fell to the ground, and the lights in the test chamber came back on. The Octoling recoiled and jerked her head down, her pale green arms instinctively shooting up to her face in an attempt to shield her eyes.

"TEST PASSED!" the loudspeakers boomed. From behind a screen, Commander Tartar watched the test subject make her way out of the simulation room. He was quite pleased with the results.

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Friday, 8:52 a.m.
Inkopolis

A short girl stepped into Captain Cuttlefish's office, quietly closing the door behind her. She approached his desk and noted the lack of personal effects—other than a small portrait frame holding a faded photo of two little girls, the captain's desk was free of clutter. Its smooth, mahogany surface held only a laptop computer and a stack of file folders. Two grey, cushioned chairs sat across the captain in front of the desk, and the girl pulled one back for herself with her right hand.

"What do you need me for, Cap'n?" the girl asked as she sat down.

The old man sized up the physically unimpressive figure before him, and she stared right back. Natalie Tilus, seventeen years old and five foot two, had already built up a spectacular resume that belied her modest appearance. A child prodigy and varsity cross country runner who had finished high school four years ahead of schedule, Natalie graduated at the top of her class and now played in the Turf War League, a scene that required top-notch intuition, endurance, and intellect. She was the city's youngest professional paintball player, coming into her own with a solid string of wins this season. Analysts were spewing out optimistic predictions for Nat and her team's chances at the finals—perhaps too optimistic, in the captain's own opinion.

And all of that was just the official, on the books stuff. Off the record, Nat Tilus was the now-defunct New Squidbeak Splatoon's top operative, codenamed Agent 3. With the captain's personal guidance, she had carried out twenty-seven successful ops across Octo Valley. She was the one-woman vanguard fighting against an enemy who didn't play by the rules. Agent 3 was the NSS's wildcard, their one-size-fits-all solution to problems ranging from reconnaissance to extraction, a flexible asset who could take jobs that nobody else wanted to do and get them done fast. She was also personally responsible for rescuing the Great Zapfish, apprehending the responsible parties, and saving Cuttlefish's own life during a whirlwind tour of modern Octarian extremism three years ago, during a time when all hope seemed lost.

Nat had a perfect record, except for one failed assignment in the Canyon last year. The captain didn't hold that one against her. The NSS had been set up. It was a classic case of foul play, and he was of the belief that cheating didn't count. Even if he wasn't, Nat was still the only person Senior Officer Craig A. Cuttlefish could turn to at the moment. Pursing his dry, cracked lips, he turned his laptop around to show her a topographic map of Octo Valley.

"Know where Mount Nantai is, kid?"

Nat turned her head and attention to the screen. "What done you find there?" she asked with a slight drawl.

The captain smiled. Nat was as lazy and improperly dressed as the rest of her generation, but at least she could keep up with him. They both preferred straightforward, to-the-point communication, without any bullshit. This kid was on his wavelength, and even her accent was the same as his own. It was hard not to like her.

"Patrols have spotted people going through the area," Cuttlefish answered. "Givin' me the willies."

"Lemme guess, your guys aren't clear to investigate until after the weekend, so you need me to do a quick look see."

The old man nodded. One year ago, he had been made an adviser to the city's Department of Protection and Counterterrorism. It had been a symbolic gesture, one intended to both respect his past achievements and put a stop to his unauthorized, NSS-sanctioned activities. Here, his naval rank of Captain no longer held any weight. He had no official capacity to tell anyone in the DPC what to do, even though he knew the enemy far better than the other idiots on their payroll. To make matters worse, the NSS had disbanded after their newest recruit blew his cover during a rescue and nearly killed several dozen civilians, leaving the captain somewhat disarmed. Without direct access to his contacts, equipment, or agents, Captain Cuttlefish had to get things done under the table in order to bypass all the red tape. If the DPC considered homeland security an "urgent matter" and its "first priority," it sure as hell didn't act like it. Requests for anything often took days to get an OK, which was unacceptably slow.

"When do you want me back by?" Nat asked.

"Monday morning at the latest. Don't do anything crazy out there unless you know you can handle it."

Nat gave her former boss a silent nod, then got up and left his office. She understood that the captain wouldn't have called her in unless his problem was serious. Serious usually meant Octarians, and Agent 3 could handle Octarians like nobody else. She grinned. It had been too long since she'd seen any real action.

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Friday, 8:57 a.m.
Cephalon HQ

Cameron "Eight" Elias adjusted the collar on her uniform before knocking twice on her commanding officer's door. Perhaps the term commanding officer was too formal to describe Callie, but the woman had been Eight's acting boss for nearly a year, now. Callie had succeeded Octavio as the new military director after the latter's capture during a compromised operation. The citizens of the Canyon welcomed Callie Cuttlefish's progressive approach to leadership which emphasized organized education, self-improvement, and better living conditions, despite the fact that she was an Inkling. Eight herself certainly preferred this outsider's more moderate stance over the outdated, anti-Inkling war rhetoric that always seemed to strike a chord with older Octarians. Sure, Callie's meteoric rise was unusual, but Eight knew better than most just how capable she was.

From the other side of the door, Callie beckoned her subordinate to enter, and the red-haired Octoling smoothed out the creases on her pants. She puffed her chest out a bit before turning the knob and walking into Octavio's old office, where Callie stood next to a large, rectangular desk. A casual visitor might have been surprised by the current director's apparent lack of organization skills—pens, papers, and the occasional box of candies littered the centuries-old office space. Not even the floor was spared. Books, boxes, and trash sat on the carpeted surface that Octavio had once had vacuumed twice a day.

Callie smiled and gave what Eight always thought was the customary Inkling greeting. "How's it going, Eight?"

"Good, ma'am," Eight responded with a salute. By this point in her life, Eight had all of her greetings down. They were practiced motions, proper methods used to acknowledge superiors. Callie's conversational tone always put a funny taste in her mouth, however, with its intimate, foreign probing into the other person's condition. Octarians, especially high-ranking individuals, never asked each other how things were going. That violated everything in their unwritten code of honor.

Regardless of whether the Inkling in front of her actually cared about her wellbeing, Eight understood that Callie's unusual greeting was intended to both disarm potential foes and put familiars at ease. Callie's old life in Inkopolis involved a lot of public appearances, from what Eight had gathered. Before coming to the Canyon, Callie had been both an NSS agent and a big celebrity, someone capable of killing two people with one hand and answering questions into a microphone with the other hand. Everything that came out of the director's mouth was deliberate and intentional. Even her graceful, dancer-like body movements seemed to be calculated. Callie had made good use of her strengths to make friends, hold off enemies, and win the hearts of the people.

"I am concerned," Callie answered, eyes drifting to the ground and landing on a pile of garbage—no, a pile of paper reports. "Two missing persons reports in a week."

"What happened, ma'am?" asked Eight, lowering her salute.

Callie reached into the pile on the ground and pulled out two pieces of paper. She placed them on her desk, sweeping several other items off to clear space, then said, "The Vice President of Kamabo Corporation went missing on Monday, as you know. And now, an inspection officer has disappeared during his monthly run of the Valley. Kamabo Co. was last on his list of places to check. Isn't that fishy?"

"Yes, it is, ma'am."

"I need someone to investigate. Go to Mount Nantai and get me the lowdown on whatever's happening there."

"Today, ma'am?"

"We have a contact at Kamabo who works assembly, and he'll get you in."

Eight grimaced. She was no stranger to undercover work, but it wasn't the most pleasant way to spend a weekend. Especially when it came with zero due notice. She had wanted to spend more time at home, with her sister Cece.

"I'm sorry if I threw a wrench in your weekend plans, Eight," Callie continued. "I'm afraid this is not something we can ignore."

Eight wouldn't have refused either way, because she and her sister owed Callie their lives. Recently orphaned and attacked by accusations of treason, the sisters had an uphill battle cut out for them. Then Callie had swooped in and taken them under her wing. And what should have been a ruined military career for Eight then turned into a lucrative business opportunity of sorts: Callie watched the former lieutenant's back, and Eight did the director's dirty work. The assignments were challenging and the pay was really good. It was better than working for the Inkopolis-hating geezers who ran the rest of Octo Canyon, if not by much.

"I understand, ma'am," Eight spoke. Her voice betrayed no emotion, though her face showed clear discontent with the idea of infiltrating one of the government's own facilities.

"Sit down, Eight. We've got a lot of ground to cover."

Thirty minutes later, after running Eight through the details, Callie thanked her right-hand woman and sent her away. Eight departed with another salute. Back in the halls of Cephalon HQ, Eight pulled out her phone and gave her sister a call.

Cece Elias picked up after a single ring. "Hey, Cammy," her voice sang. Being Eight's twin, Cece had known Eight for her entire life and was the only person who didn't address Eight by her academy nickname.

"Hey, Cece. Something came up at work. I'll be out of town for a while," Eight spoke. "Thought I'd let you know."

There was a brief pause, then Cece asked, "When are you coming home?"

"On Monday," answered Eight.

"I know I shouldn't ask, but Ms. Director is sending you out again, isn't she?"

"Yeah. I'll call you when I get back."

"Stay safe out there, Cammy."

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