Assisting Archi

Gwen's brow furrowed with confusion.  She'd checked a few apartment complexes, but she couldn't find any of the Protagonists she'd hoped to find.  Jack's place was completely trashed, door forced in and everything; she feared the worst for poor Jack.  Tasha's was locked tighter than an iron safe; she assumed that the message had gotten to Lady Noble.  Eloosive's was barren, but he seemed to have left on his own terms.  Same for Rose's, Smac's, everyone's.

If I didn't know better, Gwen thought to herself, I'd think that someone did my "job" before I got here.  Which means I really only have two more things to do: find Archi and get to The Tower.


Drumming her fingers on the door in rhythm, Gwen felt a twinge of nostalgia.  The wood felt like piano keys.  Geez, I must be really rusty, I haven't played in ages, she thought sadly.

The door opened slowly, revealing only a bright left eye.  Gwen nodded, making the old hand signal: she pointed to the side with the index finger, then cocked her middle finger to point to the floor.  The eye widened with excitement, opening the door wider to let her in.

The last time Gwen was in the Chief Squid's apartment was when Archi was first tabbed; but judging from the walls, she guessed that she'd kept herself quite busy.  Paint splotches clung to nearly every surface, some in sweeping lines, others in furious blobs.  One wall was crammed with random scribbles, and running all along the baseboards and around the doorjambs was a line of squids.  Archi stood watching the pianist as she beheld the room.

"You've been busy?"

Archi smirked.  "What do you think?"

"How've you not been caught?" asked Gwen in awe.  "I mean, they're keeping tabs on you--"

"...But never following up," she interrupted.  "The only way they know I'm still here is this."  She thrust out her right ankle, showing her cold grey metal tracking shackle.  It was marred in a few places, but it stayed firmly in place, a small red light blinking occasionally.  "They could've at least picked a nicer color," Archi grumbled, scowling.

"Let's see if we can't get it off," Gwen said, kneeling and smirking in spite of herself.  She took a small cloth roll from her pocket, and unrolled it about halfway.  She slid a tiny sewing needle from its place with the others, along with a magnifying glass for good measure.  Archi watched in interest as Gwen took the needle and slid it meticulously in a tiny slit near the blinking light on the cuff.

"They never change the sequences on these things," she muttered, placing the eye-end of the needle in her mouth briefly to pry the cuff open just enough for Archi to slip her foot out.  "That's the problem with non-creative people: they don't think of these sorts of things."

Archi gazed at her ankle, flexing her foot with a smile on her face.  It felt good to see a genuine smile, as opposed to the usual grim faces or the occasional spiteful mouth-twitch.  She flung her arms around Gwen.

"Now, we've got to get you out.  A meeting's been planned out at Old-Central out west.  Dark, Asheyna, and Robyn are on their way already, and I can only hope that they find some others en route.  I, however, have to get to The Tower to poke around a bit."

The Chief Squid nodded.  "Be careful."

"I'll do my best."

The End

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