Disclaimer: I don't own Sergeant Frog. A very wonderful and talented woman with questionable prioritizing skills does. If I did, I would spend a whole lot more on character development even though it's a comedy.
…and by the way, this fic is based on that ideology (that of "every series needs a little charie development, and it's not like it hurts the characters to grow out of their established stereotypes") and I can understand if you don't respect that, but please tell me via review if so!
The preparations were complete; they had been for some time, but Giroro was hesitant, as he only was when it involved her. He had planned this for months without laying it out on paper, and once he saw it written out, a somewhat tangible manifestation of a wish he suspected was better left ignored, he had shuddered. He had balked at what it revealed in him. However, now that he had enlisted the means to make it reality, and now that the first move was clearly his, he knew there could be only one path.
It was inevitable, he told himself, polishing his weapon. It was unlikely the other members of the squad would be surprised. The platoon was forever engaging in tricky situations that could lead anywhere, and he didn't know how any of them managed to be caught off guard by any novelty. The question was really whether someone would react with hostility, and who would take the heat. Anyway, it wasn't his innovation that would be creating an uproar today—just his idea and his plan. The more he considered it, the less wise it appeared, but his heart had risen once again to hold hostage his rationality, and any soldier knew passion trumped logic when it came down to results.
It was an early autumn morning, and his tent was braving the winds to Keronian technology standards, but the gusts came one after another lashing against his fortress. It was a good thing he wasn't superstitious, or he'd call the whole thing off for another day. Just a little further away would be better, so he tried to believe, but in the end he stood. He checked that the weapon was loaded and set to run without a hitch, and left the tent.
Natsumi Hinata was making stir-fry for breakfast. Aki Hinata's frequent morning absences allowed her daughter total freedom in the kitchen, and though many times Natsumi complained to herself that children shouldn't have to take care of themselves to the extent that it was the norm, there were brief periods where she was glad for the creative decisions she could take without a mother's nutritional perspective. Throwing together random foods she happened to like in order to sample their combined taste was one of her private pleasures. Fuyuki and Keroro had long learned to go with the crazy concoctions because nine times out of ten it wasn't a complete disaster, and on the tenth they could liberally pour ketchup. It also helped that Natsumi was willing to admit to culinary mistakes and usually made up for it the same night for dinner.
About twenty minutes before school started Fuyuki came downstairs, looking if not sharp then at least prepared to give less-than-stellar academic and athletic performance at school. Keroro followed him, stumbling and stilly sleepy-looking. "You stayed up last night working on your models, Stupid Frog?" Natsumi jabbed, dividing the meal into three equal parts and setting the plates before them as they sat at the square table.
Keroro stared groggily at his plate of "leek-broccoli-mushroom-tomato medley plus turkey patty on the side", resigned to giving all Pekoponian foods a chance. "You could say, Natsumi-dono, absolutely." Being the kind of person to recklessly eat his favorites first, he scarfed down the turkey and gingerly grabbed a broccoli floret with his chopsticks. "Mm! Tastes like tomato! Like starfruit!"
Fuyuki's face fell. Natsumi shot him an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, I forgot you hate tomatoes! I didn't seed them before adding, so that's why the juice is in everything. Sorry, Fuyuki, but I'll make ravioli tonight, is that better?"
"Nah, don't worry about it, Sis. I need to get to school early today anyway; Momoka's got a lead on a secret passageway under the custodian's closet." He bravely ate a fourth of his vegetables and then munched gratefully on the turkey so he wouldn't have the aftertaste plaguing him. "After school d'ya want to go to get an Gundum, Sarge?"
"Kero! Looking forward to it!" the alien replied through a mouthful of mushroom. "New Gundam! Whee!"
Fuyuki nodded and departed. Natsumi and Keroro finished their meals quietly. "Just leave your plate here and I'll take care of it before I leave," she said as he stood to jump off his chair. He answered with a formal thankful phrase and whistled his way back down to the basement bedroom. She savored the tart flavor of her food a little while longer, having decided the consequential rush would be worth it. The window panes creaked, warning her of the weather she would meet soon. As she stood the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, and the sliding glass doors glinted, catching her eye on the crimson tent in the Hinata's backyard. She let her glance linger a second on it, wondering if she would have the chance to say good morning to the warrior alien before heading off. That was how she missed the ray blast.
"Ugh…stupid frog..." Her eyes were willed open to slits. An overwhelming drowsiness permeated her body. The room was dark again with the clouds obscuring the sun outside and the electric lights left off for the daytime. Her head faced the right, and she was on her belly. She tried to make a fist, but it was as if her hand were covered in a layer of cotton balls, and she only grasped air without feeling. "I just know he's responsible for…" she broke off, closing her eyes because it took so much effort to hold them up, "…whatever this is."
She lay there plotting her vengeance, concentrating her wrath into energy the way she was wont to. Eventually she became aware that she was chilled, and with that realization of restored senses she made the titanic heave to standing position in one motion. That one fixation guided her to sprint to the alien's bedroom door.
Without preamble she pounded on it. "STUPID FROG! What have you done while I was out? You think you can get rid of me and do whatever you want? I'LL CLOBBER YOU!"
Having deemed the stage set for breaking and entering, though, Natsumi found herself in a curious position. That is, the floor seemed to be much closer than she remembered—at least in all recent memory. "You've shrunk me, too!" she set her teeth, quivering with rage. "You'll pay for this!" And she kicked the door in the only way she knew how.
She found the amphibious alien hunched in the center of the room with his back to her. "You've got some explaining to do!" she shouted, though previous adventures reminded her it was only the worst of his plans that followed this path, and this would be the time to exercise caution. When he hadn't answered her for ten seconds, she shouted, "Stupid frog!" but received no reply, and then saw the headphone cord leading to an iPod, placed carefully beside him.
She stomped over and yanked the cord, ripping out the earphones, revealed to be sticking with tape. Immediately the sergeant flew onto his back and threw a tantrum. "Waaah Natsumi-dono's supposed to be at school! I'll do the chores later, I swear! It's not like I have inspiration to go on for anything invasion related right now anyway, so leave me alone!" He kicked and swung his arms to accompany a continued ramble. Running out of steam, though, he propped himself up in his relaxed side-recline, deliberately facing away from her. "What can I do for you, Natsumi-dono?"
Hearing no answer, he went on, "If you remember, you told me you'd do the dishes this morning, so I can't be blamed. You should just follow through with your promises like a big Pekoponian girl, and remember to keep a lid on the grumbling or you'll spoil your marriage, dear dear, kero. And then my grand singing at your wedding would have all been in vain! By the way, the new and improved repertoire does not contain Sumomo, you'll be glad to know." At this point Keroro couldn't take the silence. He snuck a peek at the unusually non-oppressive presence behind him, and promptly gaped.
Where he had expected to find the violent, over-controlling Pekoponian female youth was instead a beautiful, burgundy Keronian female youth. Well, he only thought "beautiful" that quickly, he supposed, because she happened to be completely naked, with no hat or belly marking in sight. He lost his balance, fell over onto his back, and covered his eyes. "I HEARD Natsumi-dono enter without permission and with the usual verbal abuse, and I hoped it was only an unfortunate hallucination, but now I see there are stranger things to imagine up and I take it back! I won't ever do drugs! I'm sorry for thinking temporarily substituting one addiction for another would make me a more productive invader! I won't do speed, even though the name implies work ethic would no longer be a factor! And you!" he yelled, pointing vaguely with his eyes tightly shut. "Quit breathing erratically! It's making me uncomfortable!"
"Stupid frog," said the newcomer, but the voice was unmistakable, even as it quavered uncharacteristically. "I don't believe this, so you're going to have to see it for me. Is this…really me?"
He took a deep breath. "If I see you like this you'll kill me for looking at you like a pervert! At least go to my closet and put on one of my hats!"
"Why would I think that? Could you just look at me and tell me that this is for real?"
"Hat first," he insisted. He heard the soft and light footfalls of his species. The closet door made a cracking noise as it was opened with fervor, and the loud rustling of cloth suggested his organization standards weren't thought highly of.
"There, now look at me. For all I know, this could just be a stupid scheme. Maybe my body is somewhere else, is that it? If it is, this isn't funny."
Just as he feared, his first half-second glance was spot-on correct. Before him was a young female Keronian, skin toned a deep magenta except for the area of her face below her eyes, which were hazel in color. Those expressive eyes were wide with fear, he saw. "What's wrong?" he asked without thinking.
"I'm not looking down at you," the Keronian said flatly. "And you're not looking up at me." Keroro waited. "Normally to get out of dreams you ask someone to pinch you, but I have a feeling you'd put all the force of your grudge against me into it, so how about I punch you instead?" She said this seriously.
"Kero!" Keroro braced himself, but the impact didn't come.
Natsumi was looking down at her small webbed hand. "It's no good," she said. "My reach is so much shorter with the rest of me, and my body's responses are all wrong!" She looked him in the eye, furious, but an edge of panic tinting her face and voice. "Stupid frog, how could you do this to me?"
"I didn't do this! Don't blame me!" He waved his arms and retreated a few steps. "If it were my plan I'd be a lot more prepared, with the rest of the team backing me up! You know that!"
"You're always lying!" she yelled. "You're going to see how my abilities as a frog compare to mine as a human, right? Then you can take out whichever's weaker!"
"How sneaky do you think I am?" he asked, taken aback by her vehemence.
"Pretty damn sneaky, you little toad, if now you won't even admit to your plans!" She advanced on him as he backed away further. "If there was one thing I could count on you for it was your ability to be an insensitive, sociopathic , egomaniacal asshole, but this is going too far! Enslaving my body and fusing it with your technology is one thing, but warping it completely is something so low—" She gnashed her teeth bitterly. "I don't even know you anymore. Maybe I never did."
That Keroro had an answer for, which he wisely kept to himself for the moment. Natsumi wasn't finished. "Where's Kilulu? If he's not working on an antidote within thirty seconds it'll be your head, stupid frog!" Her hands twitched. He knew in her human body she would have grabbed and shook him by now. Here she was standing awkwardly and resorting to empty threats because her body was feeling stranger to her by the second. Even as he watched with growing dread she found her tadpole tail, and he saw her working every ounce of willpower into not touching it in front of him.
"The Sergeant's not responsible this time."
Giroro marched inside. 'I'll make it clear,' he thought as they both gaped at him. 'I'll be honest, and explain it directly to her, and then she'll see it's the best thing that could happen to her.'
"Whaddaya mean, he didn't do this? What do you know, Giroro?"
The alien in question was startled to see a stern expression on Keroro's face, but pushed his concern aside for the moment. "Natsumi, the one who changed you is me. Before you try attacking any of us you should get used to this body first, otherwise you're sure to lose."
"But…why?" She stood motionless, her expression neutral. She was weighing his words against what little she knew of his personality. "I would have expected this from him, but you, I thought you were…" She trailed off.
'What? You thought I was what?' his mind screamed, but he kept his face bare of emotion also. "I suggest you take some time to think about your options as a Keronian before making a move." With that, he turned to exit.
He barely had time to register the betrayal in her eyes before he was embedded in the wall across from the bedroom door. 'Incredible!' he couldn't help reflecting behind the pain. 'She's already learned that though her limbs are shorter, her overall power and durability have increased tenfold!' As he slid to the floor he only had admiration for she who had struck him so fiercely.
"How dare you walk away from me?" Natsumi's Keronian body, interestingly enough, seemed uninhibited when it came to looming over the defeated. "I'm not a Keronian, I'm a human, no matter what I look like to you, and you've got seriously deteriorated dendrites in that frog brain of yours to think I'll help you invade my planet!" She punctuated her statement of will with a stamp by his head. "Now, you got me into this, so you know how to undo it. I suggest you do something about it before I start learning how to fight you guys on your own level."
"Not this time, Natsumi." Giroro rose to his feet. Acutely aware he was unable to look her in the eye, he told her, "This time I won't interfere. You will make a decision a week from now. Until then, I cannot help you, and I will not speak with you on it. I also reserve the right to decide if you've thought carefully, and to extend the trial period to however long it takes you to make the right choice."
"This is ridiculous! You're making me miss school and life because of some dumb test? What's this choice, anyway? It seems clear to me you've already got the 'right choice' in mind already!"
"Corporal Giroro," spoke up Keroro suddenly. "You are out of line, and you know it."
In the silence they all realized he had come to Natsumi's defense. The atmosphere became heavy with the sense of the tables turned. Giroro, the one who had in the past always been the one to defend her from the green one, grunted. "I have nothing else to say. I'm taking Kilulu and we're going to do some training in the mountains. Until next week, Natsumi."
That quickly, he was gone.