Chapter 10

Deepsea Metro Testing Facility…Guyver's POV

I watched as Sarah accomplished the tests. I also did the ones that Mei did to see what they were like.

"Be careful, it's quite challenging." I'd tell her.

"I can do it." She'd assure me.

"Oh, I know you can." I'd tell her. "I'm just letting you know."

Not sure why, but I'd tell her that for every test I already did.

Eventually though, we did get hungry. We signaled the normal Metro and after a few minutes, we were off.

"So Cap, know any great places to eat down here?" I asked Cuttlefish.

"Oh, I know just the one." He pulled out a CQ device of his own and selected a destination.

"Wait, the Cap'n does tests too?" Sarah asked.

"No, there are Civilian ones too." He answered. "I just do some odd jobs around here to earn some points now and then. Nothin' too difficult, just some sweepin' and paper delivery."

"Well that's neat." Sarah said.

We soon arrived at the station. It was another university town-looking area like the one I woke up in my first time down here. This one had more dormitories and shops. Cuttlefish led us to a quaint little noodle shop.

"Ah, you came." Iso Padre had already taken a seat. "And I see you brought the Young Squire."

"Hello Iso Padre." I shook his…whatever you call his hand. "How've ya been?"

"Very well." Iso Padre said. "And yourself? How's the surface?"

"Great!" I told him. "I've already got a job, a place to live, and a cute roommate!"

"C-cute?!" Sarah hid her face…weird…

"This is your roommate, I trust?" Iso Padre asked.

"Yup!" I pulled her close so he could see her better. "This is my roommate, Sarah!"

Sarah just froze, looking around and finally waving her hand after a few awkward seconds.

"I'm Iso Padre." He introduced himself to Sarah. "It's a pleasure."

"N-nice to meet you Iso Padre." She then looked to me. "G-Guyver, you can let go of me now…"

I released her.

"Well, pick out what'cha want!" Cuttlefish said. "It's all on me!"

"Alright Cap!" I cheered.

"Woohoo!" Sarah cheered.

We made our orders and after a few minutes, we were served our noodle bowls.

"Huh…it's actually not bad here." I commented. "I mean, the food's better than the food back home usually is."

"What's the food there like?" Sarah was curious.

"Well, it's mostly military-style rations for everyone." I explained. "We don't have enough power for personal ovens, so it's mostly made in designated mess halls. We don't even have access to the same foods we apparently used to. Mei actually found an old cookbook from before the war and the pictures in it looked better than anything they serve in the mess halls."

"Wow..." Sarah said after slurping some noodles. "It just gets more depressing the more I hear about it."

"I mean, they do serve things close to it during the holidays." I told her. "That food was actually great. I guess when it's a celebration; you need to make the food special, regardless of resources."

I could tell Cuttlefish was looking a little down after hearing that.

"You alright Cap?" I asked him.

"Yeah…I just makes me think…" He said. "Wonderin' if things could've gone different."

"Maybe they still can…" Sarah said. "I mean, there are Octolings in Inkopolis and no one seems to mind."

"Yeah, but almost everyone thinks they're inklings following a new hairstyle trend." I pointed out. "Barely anyone's seen an Octoling since the War, so not many even know what one looks like."

"But I learned some people I've met were Octolings and I didn't think any different of them." She mentioned. "Maybe it'll be the same way with other people."

"Maybe…" I admitted, but wasn't sure. "But it is just a relatively small amount of Octolings in Inkopolis city. Inklings and Octarians as a whole though…I'm not sure."

"…It's a start." She said.

I looked at her when she said that. She was sincere in her words. I couldn't help but smile.

"Y-your food's getting cold." Was all I could think to say.

"Oh right!" She started slurping her noodles again.

"Yeah, we better eat up!" I said. "The tests only get tougher from here."

"I can handle it!" She assured me.

"I know you can." I told her. "I'm just letting you know."

I smiled as she went back to her noodles. It reminded me that I should get to eating mine.

I don't know what it is about her…I haven't known her for long, but I just enjoy her company.

Inkopolis Evening…Beth's POV

I got my uniform back on and was ready for patrol.

"You're leaving again?" Mei asked.

"Yeah." I told her. "Got some reconnaissance to do."

"Any idea when you'll be back?"

"Nope." I said. "Like I said, I spend a lot of my time on patrol."

"…Can I come with you?" She asked. "It'd be better than being in the room all the time."

"You sure?" I asked her. "I mean, it's either boring reconnaissance or splatting Octos. Are you comfortable with the ladder?"

"I mean, only if I have to." She said. "I just can't imagine someone being alone all the time."

"I'm used to it, but alright." I agreed. "Just find a good uniform."

She got her metro outfit on and we were off to Inkopolis Park. We dove through a manhole and after a few turns, we were next to a lighthouse.

"Where are we?" She asked.

"Barnacle Bay Lighthouse." I stated. "It's the closest point to Octo Gorge. They have troops on the surface so we can't get close, but we can get a decent view from here without getting spotted."

We walked over towards the cliff where a telescope was set up. I took a look through, writing down and sketching what I saw.

"What do you see?" She was curious.

"Lotta Octos on the surface." I told her. "I think some of them are setting up buildings on the surface, but we may have to wait 'til day to know for sure."

"So why this settlement?" She asked as she sat on the grass. "Didn't you capture Octavio?

"We did, but it seems like the head honcho over here's planning somethin' big." I explained. "It apparently has something to do with the tournament and they already have a spy in Inkopolis."

"Always something going on." She lamented. "It never seems to end."

"Maybe it will, maybe it won't." I remarked. "Regardless, I'm here to make sure Inkopolis and its inhabitants are safe."

"I just hope things can get better…" She sighed. "Inkopolis has it great, but for us it seems everything just gets worse…"

I sat down next to her.

"We live underground, the food's terrible, our leadership mind controls people, we're running out of power, and our domes are deteriorating." She kept going. "Sometimes…the power suddenly cuts off and we only have minutes before the domes just collapse on us."

"Those happen to you?" I asked.

"…Yes…" She mumbled.

"You mentioned living with Guyver and his parents." I pointed out. "I'm guessing that's why?"

She started sniffling.

"Mei?"

Tears started flowing.

I put my hand on her shoulder.

"Uh…It's okay…" I told her. "You're okay…"

She leaned against me. I guess I was her shoulder to cry on…

Aw geez, I have no experience with this kind of stuff. Why do I have to be emotional support?

After a while, she wiped her tears away.

"…Thanks Beth…" She sat back up.

"Hey, uh…It's getting late and we've got a long day ahead of us." I told her. "Callie paid off the staff at the lighthouse to give me a room, no question asked. We only planned for me, but there should be plenty of room."

She nodded in agreement. We got up and walked to the lighthouse, a nice rest was needed.