O-kay, I want to go to sleep again.
He blinked his heavy eyelids, unable to remove the specks of dry flecks at the corners of his eyes. Finally, he moved his wrist toward his face and rubbed the dust off, moaning.
His sight was weak and hazy, giving the ceiling he was staring up at a feeling of confusion, colors mixed together sloppily.
He grunted and shook his head. When he spoke, his voice was dry and hoarse, "Where am I?"
"About a thousand leagues under the sea."
Now didn't that sound familiar.
Giroro shot his attention toward the young man with jet black hair and extremely pale blue eyes.
The blond crumpled his face slightly, realizing that he never took in the appearance of the guy who had offered to make him a model (the thought still made him shudder, there's no denying that). Pale blue eyes. Why didn't he notice that?
It was probably because the color wasn't that uncommon.
That… other guy with the bubblegum-like hair had the same colored eyes.
Wait. He… does… doesn't he?
Giroro wished he remembered who he was thinking about.
"Hey! I'm over here," Kai snapped, obviously irritated at the inclination that he was being ignored.
"What do you want?" Giroro asked, clamping his hands on the floor beneath him and pulling himself up. He rubbed his neck, feeling the stupid tender Pekoponian skin with the stupid, small puncture shaped indents.
"Your attention, for starters?" The other young man replied snidely, folding his arms.
Giroro narrowed his eyes. "Who are you?"
The Keronian huffed. "Really."
"I wasn't kidding when I said my name was Kai," The man shrugged. "It's my actual name. It means 'Ocean'-"
"Yeah I don't care." Giroro stretched his arms and leaned back slightly. "So- What are you? Pekoponian? I know you work with those freaks for a reason-"
"DON'T call them freaks," Kai snarled, startling the space frog, curling his fists into tight balls. "I have no idea what the heck a "Poke-Monian" or whatever the heck that is, but I'm a Ningyo. And I'm very proud to be one, I'll let you know!"
"…You're… one of them?" Giroro asked, his left eyebrow going up skeptically.
Kai tried to relax, releasing his hands. Giroro saw his long, gracefully thin fingers- they actually almost looked girlish. Had the other not had that outburst, nor declare that incredible revelation, the corporal would have probably thought up of an insult for them.
But still. Something just didn't seem to sit right…
"You're a Ningyo."
"Yes. So I would appreciate it if you didn't offend our sacred people!"
"Then why do you look so different than all the other Ningyo I've seen-?"
"I've had enough of your questions," Kai muttered breathily. "The queen will arrive to meet you shortly."
The moment his words left his mouth, the grand door leading to the room clicked, and the knob turned…
Admittedly, Dororo was startled when he saw there was a bright yellow square-shaped piece of paper taped to his and Giroro's door, a feeling not unlike a goody-two-shoes getting caught for sticking his hand in the cookie jar. He shook his head and darted to the girl's dorm, sliding carefully into the shadows, avoiding every single teacher that could prove a potential threat to his rescue.
After staring at the coffee-deprived sensei stalk sleepily down the hall, Dororo slinked toward Natsumi's and Koyuki's door. Or, he assumed it was.
Koyuki brought it up sometimes earlier, what the number was. Just for emergencies.
Dororo knocked on the door gently, eyes slipping over to the area where the teacher disappeared to, and begged that either of the two were still awake to hear him. He waited a minute- a painstakingly long minute. He rapped his knuckles against it again, and jumped when he saw the round bronze knob turn.
"Dimitri?" Natsumi asked, blinking. She pulled on the door, revealing her pajamas and loose hair, a clear indication that she was going to bed at that moment. "What's wrong? Didn't you find Rio?"
Dororo licked his lips, or at least Natsumi thought so with the faint movement of his cheeks above his mask. "I did."
"H-he… he was kidnapped."
Natsumi's eyes widened, and her face turned pale as she weakly grasped the doorknob. "W-what? By who?! Don't we need to tell someone-?! Why didn't you-?!"
"Shh," Dororo hissed, wincing at his own harshness of the word. "Please. Let me inside, and I'll explain."
The pink-haired girl's eyebrow cocked slightly.
"Please. I…" Dororo swung his head over his shoulder. "…don't want to get in any more trouble than I already am."
"…Fine," Natsumi said slowly, swinging the door wider. "Come in."
"D!" Koyuki greeted him, completely unfazed at the prospect that her best friend was in the girl's dorm. "Whatcha doin' here? Did you find G-…Rio?"
Dororo sucked in a breath. "The Ningyo kidnapped him."
Koyuki's sweet smile lessened, and Natsumi fell back in a sitting position on top her bed. The two girls stared at him in bewilderment.
"Y-you're kidding," Natsumi stammered. "She's… back?"
"I'm afraid so," Dororo murmured. He ran his fingers through his hair. "I came over here… because I require of your assistance. There is absolutely no way I can get there myself. They're too strong-"
"And that's why you ran away," Natsumi said stoically. "You ran away and let your friend get captured-"
"It's nothing like that!" Dororo defended himself, holding his hands up protectively and taking a cautious step backward. "If I had fought them, knowing full well that I would have also gotten caught in the process, then I wouldn't be here telling you what has been going on." He shook his head, trying to calm himself down. "…I do realize that we're all stressed. It's been quite a long day, and obviously the beginning of an exhausting night. I wish I could say we could rest for a while, but-"
"The bus leaves tomorrow," Natsumi finished for him, her mouth a thin line. She looked down at the faded carpet, scuffing the bottoms of her slippers against it. "So we have no time for that."
"…Exactly." Dororo rubbed his arms, drooping his shoulders slightly.
"Do you know where they're at?"
Koyuki blinked at him, tilting her head slightly. "Do you remember where, D?"
"U-uh…" Dororo played with his hands. "Th-they mentioned about going to the ocean…"
Recalling the vast, open, glittering waters, Natsumi frowned and folded her arms. "Where?"
"I-I don't know," Dororo admitted, moving more than he should have again. His fingers found their way back to his thick pink hair, moving his locks anxiously.
Natsumi sighed heavily and stood up, walking over to the desk in between her bed and Koyuki's. She opened the drawer and seemed to be moving things around in it.
"You okay, D?"
Dororo turned his attention to the female ninja, who was clad in… really cute pink pajamas (that he had never seen before?!) that fell down above her knees, slit at the sides that went up to her thighs. The sleeves were slightly puffed at the shoulders, and a little pink frog symbol grinned on the right of her chest. Oversized, droopy socks hung at her ankles.
Dororo's eye twitched before he looked away quickly, slamming one of his hands against his mouth.
"Your face got red again."
No point in denying it, Dororo thought, gazing up soberly at the ceiling. Why must you torture me? What did I ever do wrong to deserve this? ….Okay, there was that one green-zebra-monkey incident, but I swear I've been a good boy since then….
"Momoka said she'll help us out," Natsumi mumbled, her thumbs working at the tiny keypad of her phone. "She's going to send a submarine waiting for us on the beach; it's the same one that has the coordinates to the same place the last time you guys got kidnapped." She nodded, sending the message with a single push of a finger. "C'mon Koyuki. Let's change." She glanced warily at Dororo. "Can I trust you not to peek?"
"Because if you do the wall has your name written on it."
"No peeking, no peeking, definite no peeking okay, okay." He covered his eyes with his hands and abruptly turned the other way, crouching in fetal position as the thought of Natsumi painfully grinding his face against the wall came to mind.
"We lost the signal."
It was a statement, not a question. It still had inquiry in his tone- a rather demanding-for-information sort of tone- so Keroro licked his lips, prayed for his life, and spun to face the Lieutenant.
"Giroro's, signal. Sir."
The platoon held their breaths as they watched on, the purple frog's fingers curled within themselves so tight that the knuckles were visibly beginning to turn a pale white color.
"Why." It was obvious to them that this operation was more than just a simple fun game they had shown him several days ago. An angry aura emanated from Garuru, enough to the point where everyone was tugging at their nonexistent shirt collars, muttering, is it hot in here? while fretfully trying to find something to play with to keep themselves occupied. Rather irritated by the lack of answer, Garuru repeated, in a more stressed manner; "Why."
"It means he's not in our area. Sir."
"And what is that supposed to mean. Sergeant."
The wrong words could earn him a death wish.
Keroro carefully dipped them in the rare, fearful humility that was only reserved for the times when he knew he was confronted with someone who was ('surprisingly') better than he was. "Th-that means he's not in c-close enough range to be d-detected. Sir."
Garuru closed his eyes, feeling for his forehead with strong, small hands. "Why."
"We don't know," Keroro confessed, seeking Mois's help in desperation through the use of his eyes. He redirected his attention to Garuru when the latter cleared his throat.
"How do you propose we find him?"
Keroro blinked at Garuru, trembling just a little. Danger lurked ahead. That was the only reasonable explanation for why the older brother sounded so deadly calm. It was like a peaceful-looking plane of dirt… unknowingly covering a minefield that could explode upon any impact.
"W-we… w-we don't know. S-sir."
It was clearly visible that the lieutenant was trying to restrain himself. He trembled just a little, squeezing his hands tightly again, veins beginning to appear.
"Isn't there any way to contact him?"
Here was the question they were all expecting, and the broken platoon stared at each other helplessly, prompting each other weakly to be the one to answer. When no one said a word, Garuru spun toward them, his eyes practically glowing with the unprofessional anger that was probably only offered to enemies that truly deserved it. He repeated his question, starting off slowly, and then rising in aggravation as it went on, "I said, isn't there anyway to contact him?!"
"No." Keroro replied, his word no higher than a squeak.
Keroro continued, dryly, "The device that you shot… w-was the only way to contact him. S-sir."
Garuru jerked slightly, his pupils dilating behind the yellow visor. He moved his head toward the remains of the device and let out an agonized, shaking breath.
"So we don't know where he is."
"So… so he could be in trouble."
"As a Pekoponian."
Any other circumstance would bid his younger brother an off-handedly simple wave of a gun. Heck, Garuru even almost drowned him before, though he was confident that Giroro would victoriously reach out in the end, defeating him. Or almost defeating him. But that wasn't the point. The point was that he understood that he knew his brother was able to handle things on his own, able to intimidate enemies and use his strategic wit to battle and win.
However. Before, he had the strength, speed, agility and cover of a Keronian, a high-class alien species with the potential to rule the galaxy with an iron fist. According to Giroro, he had almost died on more than several occasions in the hands of his adversaries. And obviously, Garuru had to downgrade his usual force when he battled Giroro on his "mission" to invade Pekopon from them. Giroro was strong, yes, but he still had his flaws, his weak points.
What chance would he have as a defenseless, weak, scrawny, and not to mention weaponless Pekoponian, unable to revert back to his former appearance?
The answer was that he didn't.
Garuru took a few more wobbly steps back, his body shaking. He walked into one of the tables Kururu had been using for his computers and stumbled slightly, sliding down to the ground when the object wouldn't let him back away any further. He seemed to have forgotten that the others were still there as he switched off his visor and felt his forehead, his eyes widened with disbelief… and guilt. If his now paled, red eyes spoke then and there, it would be, it's all my fault. All this… is all my fault.
The team watched him, surprised, albeit just as guardedly. The captain of the Garuru Platoon never, ever showed signs of weakness in the presence of others. Like Giroro, he presented himself with utmost pride, although, unlike his brother, was able to compose himself far longer, radiating a threatening aura, daring others to daunt him, never bothering to degrade himself except when he was in the company of his brother.
This was a new side that anyone, especially Keroro, who had practically grown up with him, had ever seen.
Garuru jumped slightly as he felt a warm hand rest on his shoulder. The lieutenant gazed up, bringing his fingers away from his face.
Keroro, who Garuru normally found idiotic and unworthy to hold the position as leader, had eyes that shone with earnest confidence as he brought up his hand and curled it into a strong fist.
"We'll get Kururu to fix it. And we'll find Giroro."
Garuru looked away, resting his elbow on his bent knee.
"And we'll abort the mission. We'll turn him back, and we'll never do this again. I swear on my honor, Lieutenant."
Keroro was expecting something along the lines of 'you better not' coming from the mouth of the elder brother, but to his immense incredulity and disturbance, Garuru just nodded, not bothering to respond. He eyes were not void of feeling like the sergeant was so used to; they were filled with so many emotions, all swimming together at once. Fear, anger, guilt, irritation, grief.
It was too much to look at.
"Mois," Keroro said quickly, with a snap of his fingers. "Get that to Kururu. Tell him to stop what he's doing and fix the Word Choice Chooser. Tell him-…" He wavered off and paused. "…tell him I want it done now."
The Angol nodded and sprinted off, not wasting a single moment.
"Now, think ev-… Tamama," Keroro said, just slightly unnerved that he was missing so much of his platoon. "What could possibly have happened?"
"Well…" Tamama said slowly, pushing away the bag of chips that he had lost appetite for, "…what else could've happened? I mean… it's not really different from our part of Japan… sure, there are a bunch of shops here, and shrines, and tourist attractions, and a huge ocean-"
"Ocean." Keroro swiveled his head to the huge, black body of water that shushed and sighed as its waves crashed against the rocks. "…Ocean…"
"And here I am again," Giroro snarled, blinking his heavy eyes. He grinned sarcastically to his kidnapper. "Couldn't you have waited until after I had gotten some sleep? It's so inconvenient."
Queen Vivianne waved her hand dismissively. "Don't worry, love. You'll get rest soon enough. We'll get married in the afternoon of tomorrow."
Giroro felt something knot in his stomach. "How many times have I told you-?!"
"-that I always get what I want?" She interrupted, finishing his question but adding in her own. Her red lips curled down, expressing a very displeased frown. "I know you read the brochures. I know my Ningyo told you. Why do you still act like you're so oblivious to everything? It's almost offensive."
"Don't you ever care about what others want?!" Giroro snapped, his voice laced with venom. "I don't know how the frog you got the others to marry you- money, leadership, crap, heck, maybe even love- but I'm going to be the first to tell you straight- I won't." He almost added, Because my heart belongs to another, but the dial was off or something, so his truth meter was able to control itself on his own. He was glad for that. It sounded so corny.
"You want to know?" The queen asked, smirking. "I'll tell you-"
"Let me guess," Giroro snorted. He pulled a strand of blond hair away from his eyes and tucked it behind his ear. As it wasn't long enough, it only fell back out of place. "I've heard this plenty of times before. You 'got to know them and they fell madly'…"
His voice drifted when all of a sudden, to his surprise, the queen's smirk only twisted more evilly, and she cocked an eyebrow in a very devious way. He glanced at the others, jumping slightly at the fact they were blushing heavily, even Kai, who was tugging at his sweater's collar, visible steam rolling out.
"…What?" Giroro felt like he had been left out of a particularly dirty secret. "What's going on?"
"I 'got to know them', you say~?" Such a flirty to-
"NOT LIKE THAT!" Giroro snapped, his own face now completely flushed and red and overwhelmed with unwholesome humiliation. He shook his fist so hard that it was only as visible as a blur from a hummingbird's wings. "NOT LIKE THAT! GET YOUR MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER!" If he was able to materialize his guns you bet he would have done so then and there.
Wow. So even fish people have their moments. *snrrk*
"DON'T YOU DARE LAUGH!" Giroro yelled, now pointing at the screen. "WHY DIDN'T YOU BOTHER ANYONE ELSE?!"
Well, doi. I don't deal well under serious situations. Making fun of you is probably the only funny part of this chapter.
"I'M NOT FUNNY!"
"YOU-YOU- *CENSOR* *CENSORCENSORCENSORCENSOR* *BEEEEEEEEEP*!"
There was more exceptionally creative things he screamed, but it didn't do well under the profanity filter. Use your imagination.
Kai bent toward the queen and whispered, "Who does he keep talking to?"
She looked like she couldn't care less as she folded her arms delicately on top of each other and shrugged.
"Back to the situation at hand," Vivianne continued, relaxing her lips to a more civil manner. "If you're wondering how I was able to get many of my suitors to marry me, I'd be more than happy to tell you." She coughed into her hand, clearing her throat. "You see, you're only partially right. Sure, I was able to sway many a suitor with wealth and power. One I was able to convince through the fact that I was just… different. But the others… mm, let's say they were just a little bit harder to persuade. Much like you."
Gee, I wonder why, Giroro thought, rolling his eyes.
"Do you know how I became the ruler of the Ningyo people, Rio?"
The Ningyo, including Kai, shuddered at this and gripped at their arms protectively, almost as if they had assumed that the queen would take a bite out of their flesh then and there.
Vivianne's lips curled again into another irritated frown. "No."
"Let me guess then. Magical pixie dust-?"
"Are you going to let me finish?" Vivianne barked.
Giroro rolled his eyes again and muttered a yeah, sure, go ahead.
"Thank you." Vivianne took a small breath, and proceeded: "I became more than just typical human being. I learned some things, some knowledge. It's no surprise that they were amazed by not by my beauty, but my incredible ability to perform- HEY! WAKE UP!"
Giroro jumped, his eyes half shut. "Wh-?"
"Anyway," The queen continued, giving her "bridegroom" a sharp, strict glare, "Going back to the first question. About how I'm able to persuade the men I choose to marry me.
"Do you know what you get when you mix the scales of the green-eyed panther-fish, the precious pearl of the tiger-clam, the frozen leaves of the whispering corals, the extracted salt from the ocean and the tears of the Ningyo Queen?"
"Should I?" Giroro yawned.
"Yes," Vivianne's lips stretched to a thin smile. "They're ingrediants."
"A love potion."
"Ku. What is it?"
The yellow scientist was barely noticeable under what Mois could only guess was the midsection of the insect-like machine, Kururu's legs sticking out as his upper body performed the actions needed to fix whatever he was wrenching.
The automation was slightly bigger than its head, the same reddish-orange color as well, but it wasn't as intricate or detailed. The designs of the ancient relic-like words were relatively simpler, but even if they were, it wouldn't be seen under the long, bonelike legs protruding from its sides. Some of the limbs would twitch once or twice, and she even saw one make movement like it was taking a step back, almost like it was a live creature.
Mois could see from the corner of her eye that the rear of the machine had already been made. It looked much similar in form as its abdomen, but the end was pointed slightly, and its remaining appendages were as still as death. Next to it was the completed head; somehow, Kururu had managed to add something that resembled an enormous cone shaped collar that wrapped around the neck of the head, and he made the antennae-like wires much, much longer.
Mois paled slightly as she realized that it looked kinda like a cockroach. She remembered some crawling inside and sitting on top of the beef stew she had originally made for Uncle. It was lucky that Natsumi had walked in there just in time to stop the shrieking Angol from pelting the poor tiny doomed soul of utter doom and devastation. And doom.
The body, though, looked like those fire ants that once went in Uncle's eyeballs (an incident involving soap, pizza, and a toaster oven). She assumed that that was a particularly good choice, because he wouldn't stop screaming for about a week. Or was it a month? Well, however long it was, it must've been painful. She would often hold out her Lucifer Spear whenever she saw one, fearing its poisonous jaws that clamped so distressfully onto delicate flesh.
Two things that she hated rolled up into one massive, monstrous creation.
"What is it?"
"Hm?" Mois redirected her attention to Kururu, and immediately remembered her objective. Her mouth grew to a serious line. "Kururu. Uncle wants you to work on this." She held out the remains of the controller.
Kururu grunted as he casually pushed himself out from under the machine and glanced at the shattered metallic remnants. "Ku. Typical." He rolled himself back and waved his hand toward the right. "Just leave it over there. I'll work on it later."
Mois walked over and gently rolled him back out, pulling the skating-thingy with her foot. Kururu was not amused.
"What do you want now? Candy~? Ku-ku-ku-ku~"
"He said he wants you to fix it now."
"Ku. I'm busy."
"No, Kururu." Mois kneeled down to face him, forcing eye contact into his poor, unfortunate swirly glasses that almost immediately began to crack. "Now."
And to think we were just joking about the Fish Queen yesterday, Natsumi thought, laughing dryly at the irony. Sheesh.
Rio got himself into trouble. Again. This time, it was safe to say it was his fault. If he hadn't run away so erratically, he would be at the hotel. But nooo. He had to be weird and get kidnapped by the Queen of the Ning-yo-yo… whatchamacallit.
Natsumi sighed. Another supposed-to-be normal (-and-hopefully-romantic) fieldtrip completely obliterated for the sake of comedy. Um. Strangeness. Alien life forms? Singing penguin people…? Whatever.
She hated this anime.
But hey, Natsumi mused. It could be worse. I could be paired off with one of the stupid frogs.
Oh sweet mother of cheese.
"Ready to go?" Dororo asked, gazing at the two girls.
"Ready as I'll ever be," Natsumi muttered. She pulled the hood of her dark sweater over her head with the hope of obscuring her face from anyone who might recognize her. All Koyuki did was pull on her mask.
I could say something witty here but I'll be content with just saying that it's the thought that counts.
Natsumi carefully opened the door, being extremely vigilant to turn the knob as silently as she could muster.
"I don't want anyone to see us," Natsumi mumbled, tiptoeing into the hallway.
A few rooms down, loud music along with the sounds of glass clinking against glass and gurgled drunken teachers could be easily heard. And an array of rainbow disco lights. And a reprise of Afro Gunsou.
Sweat rolled down Dororo's face. "I somehow doubt that it's possible anyway. You have nothing to worry."
Somehow, it was still difficult.
Whilst they had originally planned on getting out of there in, oh, let's say ten minutes, they didn't reach the cold night air for triple that time. It was either because of the a) no-fun teachers that preferred not to intoxicate themselves in a drunken stupor or engage in any other activity besides torturing their students (you know the ones. And you know who you are.), b) the maze-like structure of the building that could be comparable to the Ningyo's final test, c) the random marching band with the singing meatball and the tapping dance shoes (Dororo had given Natsumi a what was that about? look), or d) all of the above. Although we're pretty sure it was option number c.
Option number c?
Option number- …wait.
Ignoring the unnecessary dialogue previously mentioned above, the three hurried to the beach, smiling with relief and gratitude when they saw the familiar, dark shape of the submarine outlined against the crashing waves. They quickly climbed in before someone other than the rambling hobo outside spotted them and switched on the Autopilot.
"So what do we do now?" Koyuki questioned, tilting back into the familiar, plush seats.
"We wait," Natsumi breathed.
"Might as well get some rest," Dororo said pointedly. "If it'll take a while, you two should some sleep."
"Good idea," Koyuki murmured, leaning toward her male ninja friend. She sighed into his warm, nice-smelling clothes, and quickly fell asleep before the poor guy had a chance to protest.
Natsumi peered enviously at the two potential lovebirds, turning away when Dororo looked at her helplessly.
Why is life so unfair? Dororo and Natsumi thought, slumping into their seats.
It's going to be quite a long ride.
They guessed he was too out of it to come to the conclusion quick enough. Even so, the Queen wasn't very pleased with his response. She pulled out a translucent, glass vial with a vivid pink liquid inside, the top a gold, heart-shaped cap.
"A love potion."
"A love potion," Giroro repeated, yawning heavily again. "Yeah, yeah I heard you what y-…" Realization dawned on him, and it was more effective in waking him up then what splashing a cold pail of water could ever do. He gazed at her cautiously, narrowing his eyes and sliding himself back. "…What are you planning on doing with that?"
Oh, he could guess. And he did NOT like it.
Before he could make any other… 'inconvenient' movements, the Ningyo and Kai grabbed him by his arms, restricting him, rendering him forcibly immobile. He jerked and pulled, desperate to get out, baring surprisingly sharp fangs and threatening to snap those merciless fools. He froze when he smelled the unfamiliar sweet fragrance of the sea, and noticed her light shadow come over him.
Vivianne had a dark, almost crazed look in her eye, and she made a thin, eerie smile. She popped the cork open, and Giroro could smell its startling, almost alluring, intoxicating fumes.
"I always get what I want."
Author's Note: Oh, boy. I'm so tired.
I'm sorry for the usual crappiness of the chapter, but I think it's decent enough to post. I think. Geez.
Next chapter will be better by a tenfold. Pinky swear.