A/N: This is my first fanfiction for any fandom, but Splatoon and it's community captured my writing spirit like no other! Though I might not have any fic-making experience, I have been roleplaying for the past three-ish years. That said, I'd love to hear any constructive criticism from you squiddos!

Shout-out to Cassidy for beta-ing this! 3

Octotarian is italicized because it's my own personal headcanon that Octos speak a different language, more specifically they speak Esperanto. It's an artificial language created by one guy, L. L. Zamenhof, and is actually is spoken in several villages across Europe! Well; enough with my nerding out, let's get his show on the road!

The air was different here. Crisper, not tasting of dust and damp earth. It was moving too, but he couldn't hear any whining fans or humming units. They were getting close, they had to be after three hours worth of traveling in an old rickety mine cart turned trolley.

Shaking his thoughts from his head, Hado continued to stare ahead with the rest of the passengers. There was little else to do on the cramped trolley. What space that wasn't taken up by anxious forms were filled with bags of all shapes and sizes. Despite the cramped quarters he was grateful that he wasn't the only one searching for a new beginning, a new life. So many were displaced with the first wave of generators failing and even some of the minor domes caving in from a century of stress. It made many folks question the safety of their environment, made them worry for themselves and the ones who they held close. Fear and the beginnings of desperation made a powerful motivator and for a profitable market. Side eyeing the Inkling that was piloting the trash can turned transportation, Hado only hoped that they didn't charge a dismounting fee. Not that he wouldn't do anything for freedom, but he'd much rather disembark with something in his pockets.

Freedom. A literal light at the end of the tunnel that had nothing to do with the almost burnt out gaslights. So painfully close and yet so far. Everything that he did - the favors and payments and tedious, hopeful planning - was just to get to the surface. After that, he was on his own. The thought made a painful lump form in his throat, made his chest ache in a way that had nothing to do with his binder. It was all he could to blink back tears; hoping that no one noticed his shimmering eyes. that no one would hear his racing hearts.

A sudden jolt to the makeshift trolley startled him and everyone else on board. Everyone except for the single armed guard stationed to prevent unscrupulous activity that is. People chattered amongst themselves with hushed voices, nervousness coloring their whispering.

"It's so close!"

"Can you feel the breeze?"

"Why are they stopping us?"

"Did they find us?"

The people around Hado shifted with unease; fiddling with their packs and looking around at one other for reassurance. Even he himself pulled his bags a little closer incase their 'captains' or another passenger got itchy fingers. The crowds attention shifted towards an AstroTurf green inkling as he - Hado was pretty sure he was a he with that braided ponytail - stood on top of some poor fellow's bloated luggage and shouted down at the wary cluster of refugees through a traffic cone with a duct taped on handle on it.

"Listen now!" His Octarian was far from perfect - sounding stiff and jilted and possessing the distinct bubbling accent of Squiddish - but at least he actually spoke the language, unlike the rest of the squids working the escape ring. "You be going here, it's last place. Be quick and quiet because backlog happening!"

Several quick witted individuals understood the boy and did as he said; their whispers being directed to the ones around them as they checked over their bags once more before shuffling off the mine cart turned trolley. The instructions went through the crowd like a breeze and soon a bungled line was formed to get off the cart. Somehow he ended near the back of the loop, having been turned around by the moving bodies and the ocean of hushed but excited voices. Steeling his frazzled nerves Hado rushed through the crowd, ignoring the offended shouts behind him and the guilt making his insides feel greasy.

Ignoring the glares burning holes in his back, he rushed through the already hustling clumps of people as his eyes carefully scanning the crowd for undesirables and those who simply can't let a little shove go; tightly holding onto his overstuffed backpack and bloated suitcase and his pet giant isopod. There was simply no way he was going to leave his life long pet behind.

Said isopod merely clung to his owner as its long antennae twitched rapidly in an attempt to figure out all the new sensations. The familiar scent of concrete dust and grease had long since faded behind them, lost in the unmoving air in the abandoned tunnels. New sights made it even more disorienting to the huge bug. But as long as the familiar sensation of being coddled lasted, the bottomfeeder didn't see any reason to cause a scene. A chirp indicated it's surprise. Now they were quickly approaching something that neither pet nor owner had never truly encountered before in their lives spent underground.

Fresh air.

High tech ventilation or not, there was nothing like experiencing it for the first time. It greeted the parting group with a piercing breeze as the rest of the refugees fled into the night, scattering in all directions. As much as Hado wanted to cherish the moment, maybe wax lyrical or something along those lines, he had far more urgent plans. His gaze fell to the ground as he wove around the few lingering people. Leaf litter and general trash danced upon the broken concrete platform before getting trampled and kicked aside by the slower, older folks. Past the fractured construct were tall and imposing pines; merely silhouettes in the glow of the not so distant city. The forest muffled whatever sound came from the metropolis and the tangled undergrowth hid the once proud entrance from any wayward viewers. It also prevented them from seeing any incoming border patrol. Which incidentally why there were armed guards hiding in the lower branches, who were practically shadows if it weren't for the reflections on their weapons.

Hado could see one of them turn their gaze to him, at that was all that he needed to book it as fast as he can through the undergrowth while carrying all his admittedly limited personal belongings and pet. So not very fast at all really. It was more of a speed walk if anything, often interrupted by pulling his crammed luggage out of thornbushes and skirting around mud puddles or unpassable boulders. Even if there were trails, paranoia made him wary of any Inkling wondering about. Who exactly would be out so late wasn't something that he was to find out. To get send back now, when freedom was so close, when he had nothing left but what he was carrying, was not happening. He couldn't afford it, in every sense of the word.

It took forever or maybe an hour and a half, he honestly couldn't tell with his watch gone and the towering pines blocking the sky, but he finally reached the edge of the forest. The change was as sudden as flicking a switch. In front of him was a severely bent and rusted out chain link fence leading into an alleyway lit by a single dim light. Without the forest in the way Hado could hear the cars honking and the muffled heartbeat bassline of a nearby nightclub. A careful scan revealed no one around, save for the occasional ignorant surface-dweller passing by on the sidewalk.

Nerves and exhaustion halted his travel; too scared to go on, yet unable to go back. Hado simply stood there; staring at the ramshackle gateway into his new life while he tried to regain his breath. Dimly, he noted the tempo changed exactly three times while he stared down the rusted out fence. It wasn't so much arguing with himself then it was summoning the will and the last of his nerves to leave the safe familiarity of his admittedly less than stellar life and into the neon glow of the unknown.

With one final deep breath, Hado tossed his luggage through the hole in the fence and soon followed.