A/N: I swear that this was going to stop after just the first two scenes, but I just couldn't get my hands to stop typing! This story assumes that the events of Episode 150 actually transpired (If you want to watch it, remove the spaces from here:
www. youtube watch?v= DOAJiwiGUTE
If you don't feel like watching it, here's what happened:
Giroro gets a letter saying that he is being promoted and getting his own platoon. There's a whole big hullabaloo (that that the way you spell that word?) and the episode seems to end with Giroro riding away on the train. Then, we find out that the letter was over a month old and Giroro missed the deadline. *sigh* Oh, Keroro, you bokegairu.
This story may or may not be in same universe as my other Keroro Gunso story, I'm not quite sure. I do re-use a character from there, but it's not necessary to read that one first. This fic is rated T because of one instance of the F word and some (mostly implied) torture. Oh, yes, and it has some GiroNatsu going on. Enough of my ramblings, on with the fic.
Further From You Than Even Before
The square of grass never completely grew back, a side effect of whatever alien technology Giroro had been housing in that little red tent of his. As much as she tried to forget the red invader - as difficult as it was with that idiot frog living in their basement - Nastumi would find her eyes drawn to that particular spot every time she passed it. She couldn't help but wonder where he was now, a high ranking officer with his own platoon. Probably out invading other planets, she would think ruefully, far more successful than Keroro ever was.
She wonders what he's doing right now. She looks up at the darkening sky and wonders how long he's been away.
On the other side of the galaxy, Sergeant First Class Giroro marked off another Pekoponian day on his calendar. It was exactly three Pekoponian months since he had left. He could still remember everything about that planet. The blue skies, the fresh smell of grass mixing with the smell of his campfire - the decadence of roasting sweet potatoes and the pleasant scent of burning timber.
There is a different burning smell in this place, the smell of a civilization collapsing at his feet, homes razed with the resonance of his platoon filling the air. It's everything a Keronian invader could hope for. And yet, there were things he missed from his old life. Keroro's laziness and obsession with Gunpla, Tamama's two-sided personality, Dororo's silent weeping, Kururu's maniacal laughter. He even missed Fuyuki's occult ramblings and Natsumi's...well, Natsumi in general.
'Sergeant First Class Giroro, sir.'
Giroro tucked his personal calendar away and turned to face his subordinate. Of all the members in his platoon, the two who stood before him now were his favorites. A pair of twins, practically unheard of on Keron, with matching pale green coloring and a matching tendency for mischief.
'Corporal Karoro, Corporal Hikaka,' Giroro greeted.
There was no way of telling the two apart, but they were always in each other's company in any case, so it was usually safe to address them both together. They always spoke in tandem anyway.
'The former leader of the natives wishes to speak to you,' the twins chorused.
Although the civilization had collapsed quite easily under Giroro's heavy-handed invasion, the society's leader was proving to be a bit of a problem. Giroro humphed, rising from his cross-legged position.
'I'll be there in a moment,' he told them, 'Have Koyaya start without me.'
Karoro and Hikaka nodded in unison, turned in unison, and left in unison. Once they were gone, Giroro opened the buckle on his belt, revealing the picture of Natsumi. His features softened slightly as he gazed at her features. The candid photo showed a side of Natsumi that she usually didn't show, a soft smile and kind eyes. Giroro closed the buckle with a sigh and headed towards the holding cells at a quick clip. Lance Corporal Koyaya was their resident Kururu, totally brilliant but completely insane. Also, he was slightly addicted - and for slightly read utterly - to torture. Giroro might be a soldier, but he was not overly fond of the brutal torture that Koyaya dealt to his victims.
Giroro allowed his mind to wander as he walked the all familiar route to Koyaya's domain. His thoughts invariably turned to Pekopon, as they often did. As happy as he was having his own platoon, he always felt a pang of longing when he thought of the planet he had called home for several years. Here, there were no blue skies, only bleak gray and red tinged lightning and the smell of death.
Outside Koyaya's laboratory, Giroro was met by the rest of his platoon. The twins, Karoro and Hikaka, were pressed together like always, the matching diamond symbols on their bellies almost touching. Beside them were two others. Although this gave the platoon a total of six members instead of the usual five, Karoro and Hikaka were practically the same person, so everything balanced out. Sergeant Takiki was the highest ranked of his underlings. He was in charge of communications for the platoon, pale yellow in color with a dark gray clover on his belly. The lowest ranking member of the platoon was a Private Second Class. Moriri was a dark purple Keronian who didn't really talk much, but had trained with the Assassin Corps and was vicious in battle.
Despite all of this, Giroro was unhappy, but he was soldier, dammit, and he wasn't about to complain about it.
Natsumi wondered why her life seemed so much more boring now. Keroro was still up to his idiot schemes, Koyuki was still being clingy and Saburo was as unattainable as ever. Yet, every day she felt like she was missing out on something, something that was so huge she had never realized how huge it was until it was gone. Things were different and it bothered her. Then, one day, she found the truth in her heart. She missed him, she missed Giroro and his sweet potatoes and the way he would stop functioning every time she showed him even the tiniest modicum of affection.
Natsumi wished that Giroro would come back.
The message from HQ came in five Pekoponian months since he had left the small blue planet. Under Koyaya's "ministrations," the leader had finally been taken care of. He was alive, but it wasn't really a life in Giroro's opinion. The ink black Keronian's methods made Kururu look like a cute little bunny rabbit. There was no need for them to stay on this planet any longer, the invasion was complete. The Keronian army would send a troop to stay on planet and maintain rule, but Giroro and his platoon were free to be sent on their next mission.
They gathered in Giroro's quarters when the request for a conference came and, soon enough, the giant screen on his wall had lit up with the green and yellow of Keron. It wasn't long before the craggy orange face of Captain Toruru appeared after a brief flash of static.
'Commendations to all for an invasion well done,' Toruru greeted with a nod.
'Thank you, sir,' Giroro replies for them all, his platoon standing in formation behind him.
'You're next assignment has been decided,' Toruru continued, 'It's a very popular planet, one that we've been having trouble invading for quite some time.'
Giroro clenched his teeth and the muscles in his back tightened. He didn't need Toruru to tell him the name of the planet they were visiting next.
The day was bright and clear, the sky blue and the sun shining. It was a glorious day and a weekend to boot, which meant no school. Natsumi was headed to Koyuki's so that the two girls could go shopping and Fuyuki had been invited to have tea with Momoka. The two were heading out the door when they saw him. He was the same as ever, red skin, yellow skull insignia, a scar that was interrupted only by the left eye. Natsumi dropped her purse in shock and Fuyuki's mouth popped open. The Hinata siblings spoke in unison.
As if they were summoned by the name, the entire Keroro Platoon was suddenly there on the front path.
Before any of them knew what was happening, Natsumi had swept the red Keronian into a hug and the others were all crowding around her, clamoring for his attention.
'Natsumi,' Giroro said softly, somehow managing to cut through the babble and silence them all, 'Put me down.'
He wasn't even blushing or stammering, looking directly into her eyes. This shocked her so much that she complied immediately.
'I knew you'd been here before, boss, but I never knew about your little Pekoponian girlfriend.'
That was when they noticed the other Keronians.
'Can it, Koyaya,' Giroro snapped.
'Struck a nerve,' chorused the twins, identical grins on their faces.
Giroro didn't even respond this time, simply stamped his little red foot once and the four Keronians behind him all snapped to attention. Keroro was staring in shock and awe and maybe just a hint of jealousy. Tamama's expression almost matched his precious Sergeant's. Dororo's expression was hidden by his mask, but his blue eyes were wide. Kururu was in his usual slumped posture, hand in front of his mouth.
'I'm not here for chit-chat or to catch up,' Giroro said gruffly, 'This is a courtesy call. The Giroro platoon has been ordered by HQ to take over the invasion of Pekopon. We will not fight you for the right. You are allowed to remain on this planet, but you will be treated as civilians and citizens.'
Keroro couldn't seem to get his jaw off the ground from shock.
Having said everything he needed to, Giroro sent a signal back to Moriri, who transported them back to the ship. The last thing he heard as he dematerialized was a faint 'kukukuu.' He could have sworn that it sounded sad.
As she was leaving to meet up with her friends the next day, Natsumi's eyes automatically flicked over to that certain square of grass. She was surprised to see someone there. It was a young man with blonde hair sitting with his knees drawn to his chest.
'Excuse me, but what are you doing on our lawn?'
The young man looked up. The first thing Natsumi noticed was his piercing gray eyes. The second thing she noticed was the scar.
If this was a Pekoponian suit, it was better than any Natsumi had seen.
'How are you-'
'Grade A invaders,' Giroro interrupted, 'Get access to the more high class technology Keron has to offer.'
'Doesn't look like an invasion to me,' Natsumi said, sitting on the cinder block beside the tent spot. She had never bothered to move it.
'I gave the platoon the day off. Reconnaissance.'
Natsumi smiled slightly. She was not convinced by the tone of his voice. The smile soon faded away.
'Where have you been all this time?'
Giroro was resolutely not looking at her, picking at the grass, 'Doing my job. Expanding the Keronian empire.'
There was a slight tinge of bitterness to his voice now.
'Were you successful?'
They lapsed into silence. It was interrupted by a soft beeping that came from the watch on Giroro's wrist. Giroro pressed a button and the image of a pale yellow Keronian flickered to life.
'Communication from HQ,' the Keronian intoned, 'Please return to base to receive it, sir.'
Giroro gave a sharp nod and closed communications.
'I have to go.'
He stood, brushing the grass from his pants. As he had turned to walk away, Natsumi shot to her feet and stopped him with the simple touch of her hand on his arm.
'Giroro, you know I can't let you invade Earth.'
Giroro didn't look at her, 'I know.'
'I'll do everything to stop you.'
'I know. I wouldn't expect any less. We are truly enemies now.'
'We will never truly be enemies,' Natsumi insisted.
Giroro gave a small snort of laughter, 'No, I suppose not.'
Nastumi was still hold his arm and she felt the muscles there clench.
Before she could realize what had happened, Giroro had turned, grabbed her hands and placed a soft kiss on her lips.
Then, he was gone, leaving Natsumi with her face flushed and a hand raised to her tingling mouth.
The first attack came a few days later. There was no preamble, no death threats, no speeches. One day the parliament building was there and the next day it wasn't, replaced by a Keronian space ship. The people were in panic, all of Tokyo screaming in terror as the lasers fired again and again. A giant holographic video played on a loop, like the Wizard of Oz floating above the city.
'You are now under the control of the Keronian Army,' Giroro repeated over and over, 'Resistance is futile. Surrender, or face the consequences.'
Even Natsumi had to admit that Giroro was good at what he did. If this kept up, the Earth would be lost in no time.
She never would have guessed that this would happen. She's become content and complacent, so sure of Keroro's continued failure that she hadn't worried, but now it had come to this. The world had fallen, and so quickly too. None of them had realized the true power of the Keronian Army, when it was handled correctly.
It was lucky for them that the Nishizawa Peach Group had so many properties, including an underground bunker for emergency use. Of course, it being the Nishizawa Peach Group, the bunker was more like an underground city than anything else.
Natsumi made her way to the conference room, the special suit Giroro had designed for her clacking softly as she walked. The suit had become normal attire for her, just in case things went bad. She was well versed at using the suit and had had Kururu take out Giroro's guidance system, just in case he had a way of tracking her movements through it.
They were the only ones left still fighting, their ragtag group of humans and Keronians, working together as a team. There's her, of course, Natsumi, the unelected leader of the group who earned their trust a million times over.
Then, there was Momoka, a force to be reckoned with in shining body armor. She, along with Tamama, made the heavy infantry portion of their makeshift platoon, both ready to snap into a rage at any time. Not to mention Paul, as stoic as ever but prepared to let his fighting spirit fill him if the need arose.
Dororo and Koyuki weren't technically part of their group, as both were opposed to violence, but they had managed to continue escaping the invaders' grasps and showed up from time to time with rations they collected by slipping through the shadows.
Kururu was their tech support, still inventing weapons and other such things. Something had changed about him, though. He never laughed, never talked, simply stared at his computer screen and typed and typed and typed. Only Saburo seemed to be able to understand what all the silence meant and always relayed directions to the rest of the team.
Keroro was a shadow of his former self. Withdrawn and sullen, he did as he was told without complaint, Angol Moa always at his side. As for Fuyuki...Natsumi brushed away the thoughts of her brother. He and Kogoro had been the first of their friends to go missing. It was obvious that Keroro assumed the worst, but Natsumi wouldn't allow that of herself. She knew on her heart that Fuyuki and Kogoro were alright.
Natsumi blinked away the tears that burned at the corners of her eyes and took a deep breath. She couldn't let the others see her distress. They looked to her for guidance and leadership, which meant that she could show no weakness. Never mind the fact that she cried herself to sleep every night, submerged in the memory of Giroro's parting kiss.
The gang was all gathered in the conference room, the dull murmur of forced small talk permeating the air. The sound simply stopped when she walked in. At first this had shocked Natsumi, but now she was used to it.
'Any news?' she asked.
More silence greeted her question and Natsumi sighed. Of course. There was never any news.
Appearing as if from nowhere, as always, it was Dororo who spoke. There was a frantic tone to his voice that Natsumi had never heard from him before.
'We found him,' Dororo continued, 'Koyuki has him outside. We found Fuyuki-dono.'
Things were going well for the Giroro Platoon. The mission had been a success, with only one group of surviving vigilantes to take care of, but they would reveal themselves sooner or later, Giroro was certain. Of course, that was just about the only thing Giroro was certain about anymore. Something about this invasion didn't feel right, hadn't felt right since the beginning. He knows that his team can sense it and he know that it makes them uneasy. However, nothing he does can assuage him, the feeling just doesn't go away.
Giroro sighed as he scrolled through the updates from him team. Random notes about quashed rebellions and successful torture sessions. Down at the bottom of the list, there's a short line of text, bolded and underlined to show that it's Really Fucking Important.
Prisoner 24601, aka Hinata Fuyuki, escaped from custody
When Giroro read this line, he allowed himself a small smile.
He's haggard and pale, wearing the tattered remains of his favorite alien-head t-shirt and jeans. His eyes are wide and hollow and haunted. As soon as Koyuki brings him into the room, Natsumi is at her brother's side, drawing him into a close embrace that he doesn't return.
'Fuyuki-dono?' Keroro said timidly, approaching slowly.
Fuyuki jolted, caught sight of Keroro and flinched, eyes closing instinctively. Then, he seemed to regain himself slightly and drops slowly to his knees, wirggling free of Natsumi's arms.
With that one word, everything seems a little bit better and the two friends shared a reunion hug. After a moment, Fuyuki slumped back on his heels, those haunted hollow eyes closed in exhaustion.
'What did they do to you?'
This tactless question came from Saburo and Natsumi sent him a quick glare. Throughout all of this time they all spent together, Natsumi had found herself become less and less obsessed with Saburo to the point that he had begun to annoy her sometimes. How had she never realized that he was as bad as Kururu?
'Let Fuyuki sleep for a while before we bombard him with questions,' Momoka piped up.
They all looked at Fuyuki, who still sat with his eyes closed.
'I have to tell you now,' he looked around at all of them, 'I promised.'
Fuyuki and Kogoro climbed carefully through the secret porthole entrance to the Nishizawa safe house. In normal times, it would have been strange to see Kogoro so quiet, but ever since they had lost Lavie in the first attack, the space detective had been completely taciturn. Not even his signature laugh escaped his lips.
They were on a simple mission. They needed to get food. The emergency rations the Nishizawa family had stored there were quickly running low and they couldn't live off of Keronian Type G forever.
If she had gotten her way, Natsumi would have been out on the mission, but Fuyuki had complained about not feeling useful, so she had agreed to let him go on the condition that he had someone with him. For reasons of his own, Kogoro had offered to join him topside.
Things had gone smoothly at first as the two rebels snuck into a corner market. It was further away from their underground hidey-hole than they would usually venture, but it was the closest store that was still intact.
It was almost fun, Fuyuki mused as he crept his way through the aisles, sneaking around like child playing ninja. Until he remembered why they had to sneak around of course.
What happened next happened so fast that it was reduced to a blur in Fuyuki's memory. The next thing he knew, he woke up in a stark room, the walls so white that they blinded him. He was strapped to a cold metal table by cold metal straps across his wrists and ankles. He was also alone.
'Kogoro!' Fuyuki called out, 'Kogoro!'
'It won't do you any good.'
The voice was a smooth baritone that made the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. He couldn't see who had spoken.
'Poor little Pekoponian, trying to run away,' a cruel, unnaturally high giggle, 'No matter. You're mine now.'
A face appeared above him, a Keronian face. The alien was slate gray with a bright red X on his pitch black hat. His blood red eyes were half-hooded by eyelids, as if he was bored with the whole situation, but a malicious, white-toothed grin seemed to be a permanent fixture.
'My name is Koyaya,' the Keronian said with another disconcerting giggle, 'and I like to cut things.'
The room they kept him in was a dank and dark. On that first night he curled himself in the corner as best as he could, trying to ignoring the throbbing that came from the bruises littering his pale skin.
'Oh you poor thing,' said a voice.
Something about it was familiar, but Fuyuki couldn't place it. It was too dark in the room to make out anything but the silhouette of a Keronian and Fuyuki flinched.
'I'm not going to hurt you,' the familiar voice soothed. Where had he heard that voice before?
A cool cream was being smoothed onto his aching skin and Fuyuki leaned into the touch. It felt good on his overheated skin.
'That's all I can do now,' the voice continued, 'Don't worry, Fuyuki, I'll be back.'
With a brief flash of light that indicated the door opening, the Keronian was gone and Fuyuki was alone again.
The sharp prick of a knife dragging across his arm, biting into the sensitive flesh leaving a path of pain behind it. He cringed and twisted and turned, trying to get away from the pain. A normal knife should not be able to cause this much pain in a single swipe. Cuts layered on cuts. He watches as his bruises turn from red to purple to a sickly greenish-yellow, all overlapping each other like some insane venn diagram.
Sometimes, all Koyaya does is talk, his low voice punctuated by those disturbing giggles as he details things so horrible they leave him shaking for hours an unable to sleep for days.
The food he gets is meagre and soon his clothes, what's left of them, are falling off of his too-thin frame. His hair has grown past his ears and is slowly creeping towards his shoulders, matted and knotted and speckled with crusty, dry blood. He would give anything for a shower.
It became a routine in the following weeks. Fuyuki would spend his days with Koyaya and his evenings being cared for by the mysterious Keronian. Despite the kindness he was shown, and the frequent gifts of soothing balms and extra rations, as each day passed he lost more hope of ever getting out.
Until, one evening after Koyaya has been particularly rough, his mysterious benefactor brings him a proposition.
'I need your help,' the familiar voice said.
Fuyuki let out a humorless laugh, 'How am I supposed to help you?'
'It's more of a quid pro quo thing, really,' the voice continued, small hands spreading ointment on the nasty, fresh burns that cover his neck and shoulders.
'You're going to escape and I'm going to help you,' the Keronian said, 'Then, you're going to help me. I'm done with all this...invading. I'm sick of it. I though I would enjoy myself, I dreamed of invading Pekopon from the moment I stepped foot on this planet. But things changed, Fuyuki. I thought that this was what I wanted, but it's not. Fuyuki.'
The Keronian took Fuyuki's head between his hands and turned his face so that they were seeing eye to eye. Fuyuki finally got a look at his benefactor.
'Fuyuki, please, I need to get out of here.'
Fuyuki finished his story, eyes lightly closed, lashes fluttering slightly as he remembered.
'Who was it?' Natsumi asked her brother in a whisper, holding his hand between hers, feeling the healing burns beneath her fingers.
Fuyuki sat up suddenly, his eyes snapping open, 'Is he here? Did he make it?'
'Yes, Fuyuki, I made it.'
They all turned to the still open doorway and the small Keronian figure standing there. They all stared in shock until Natsumi uttered his name.
Natsumi's first inclination was to throw him out, preferably by drop kicking him into a wall. That was before she noticed the look on the Keronian's face, the utter misery and hopelessness. For the first time since she had know him, Giroro looked lost. As if e had lost the will to carry on.
In the next moment, the room was awash with sound as the Keroro Platoon surrounded its wayward member, all chattering loudly. Natsumi had never been so happy to hear Kururu's laugh.
'Giroro-kun!' Keroro exclaimed, practically clinging to his childhood friend's arm. Dororo was being as equally clingy with the other arm.
'We thought we'd lost you,' Tamama intoned softly, his eyes shining brightly.
'Kukukuu,' Kururu contributed, his own eyes locked on Giroro, as if the red Keronian would disappear if he looked away.
'No time for tearful reunions,' Giroro said gruffly, 'There's not much time so listen carefully.'
'Incoming transmission from Japan Base 2,' Takiki said, one hand pressed to his headset.
Giroro nodded once, indicating that Takiki should relay the message.
'Japan Base 2 is down,' Takiki told him, 'The Pekoponians have taken it.'
'There are bases all over the world,' Giroro explained, 'Each with the members of my platoon protecting it. They're all copybots, every single set except the ones stationed at this base. The only way you can tell is these.'
He held out one arm to reveal the watch-like device.
'Copybots don't have these.'
'Boss,' Takiki prompted.
'I heard you,' Giroro told him.
He didn't notice the suspicious look Takiki gave him.
'It's going to take time to overthrow them all. You're going to need patience if you're going to do it right.'
Giroro was pacing now, hands gesticulating as he spoke.
'There are rebellions and uprisings popping up every day and the copybots are working hard to keep things in control.'
He stopped pacing and grinned at them, 'The Keronian army didn't count on the Pekoponians' indefatigable spirit, that's for sure.'
Takiki was frowning, fingers working furiously on his keyboard. Karoro and Hikaka were on either side of him, their matching eyes trained on the computer screen.
'This makes no sense,' Takiki muttered, 'We have distress calls from all over the planet, delayed and supressed going back as far as one Pekoponian year ago.'
'Only when you finish with the rest, come and find me at Japan Base 1. Fuyuki, you know where it is.'
Fuyuki nodded slightly where he was still sitting slumped in a chair.
'Don't be surprised if I don't jump to your aid right away. Can't reveal my hand too early, after all.'
The blare of an alarm interrupted Takiki's musings and he clicked quickly to another screen.
'Intruders, entering the inner base. How the hell did they get this close without detection?'
'It's your security system,' the twins pointed out, completely unhelpfully.
Koyaya snickered and Moriri crossed his arms.
'Where are they?'
Giroro's question was answered by the door being blasted open. When the dust settled, it revealed four Keronians, five humans and one Angol.
'Here,' Takiki replied unnecessarily.
Satisfied that everyone knew their part, Giroro announced that he had to leave, lest he rouse the suspicion of his platoon.
He tolerated a hug from Keroro, saluted Tamama, bowed to Dororo and Koyuki and nodded a goodbye to Momoka, Saburo and Moa. Giroro shook Kururu's hand, lingering longer than necessary.
'Kukukuu,' Kururu laughed, blushing as he always did when he got extra attention from Giroro, 'Ku?'
When he pulled away, he noticed that Giroro had deposited a folded sheet of paper in his hand.
'Access codes,' Giroro explained, 'To get into any base undetected. Also,' he continued, 'Upgrade codes to raise camouflage levels to those of A Level invaders. You can't go walking around like that, even if you still have those old Pekoponian suits. Not e=if you want to convince people that you're the good guys.
Giroro turned to the final member of the group.
'Natsumi, may I talk to you in private.'
Everyone else was otherwise occupied with making preparations for the long journey ahead of them and didn't notice them slip out into the hall.
'I'm not going to lie to you, Natsumi,' Giroro said, eyes downcast, 'Things may not go as well as we'd all like. There's no way of knowing what will happen once I reveal my true loyalties. I may not survive.'
'No, please, Natsumi, let me finish. Just in case the worst happens, I need to tell you...I...I've always...'
Surprised, Giroro looked up to find Natsumi smiling. She dropped into a crouch, the metal of her battle sound clanging softly, and drew him into her arms.
'When this is all over-'
'Don't make plans for a future that may not exist.'
Giroro extracted himself from her embrace and saluted sharply. Then, he was gone. His final words rang in Natsumi's ears.
Natsumi was in the lead, the others arranged around her like they were her army, her platoon. In a sense, they were her platoon. Earth's las line of defense. They were all ready to fight. The problem was, so were the invaders.
The battle raged hard and heavy around him and Giroro couldn't help but admire his platoon's skills. Moriri seemed to be invisible, he was moving so quickly, although Dororo and Kuyuki were giving him quite a fight. The twins worked in a fluid unison, attacking from multiple sides, trying to push Keroro, Fuyuki and Moa into a corner. Koyaya was as lethal with his blades on the battle field as he was in the torture chamber, darting in to slice at Kururu in between painful Sound Waves. Takiki had set the battle droid replication on over drive and it was spitting out battle droids almost as fast as they were destroyed Momoka and Tamama's Impacts and Natsumi's beam swords. Takiki, himself, was facing off with Giroro, who had finally revealed where his loyalties lie. Both were wounded and bleeding, but neither would stop.
'You don't need to do this,' Takiki was saying as they traded blows, 'If you back down now, you can probably get away with an honorable discharge.'
'I don't want your honor,' Giroro sneered, throwing Takiki to the ground and holding him there with one foot.
'I should have known,' Takiki hissed.
'But you didn't.'
The battle was winding down, Natsumi's platoon were victorious, but only just. The invaders were held in stasis by the shear number of weapons pointing at them. The air filled with a dinging noise and a mechanical voice that announced, 'incoming transmission.'
Takiki grinned, 'I think you've forgotten our important meeting today.'
'No,' Giroro replied, pulling him to his feet and herding him towards the rest of the incapacitated platoon, 'I didn't.'
As if on cue, a large screen descended from the ceiling, flickered with static for a moment, flashed the green and yellow of Keron then coalesced into the orange face of Captain Toruru.
He took in the scene before him with wide eyes.
'What is the meaning of this?'
'The invasion has fallen,' Giroro told him fiercely, 'The invaders will leave at once.'
'If you're saying what I think you're saying,' Toruru rumbled warningly, 'You have one chance to recant.'
Toruru was silent and seething for one long moment, his face pinched into and unpleasant expression.
'Sergeant First Class Giroro,' he barked finally, 'You are hereby dishonorably discharged from the Keronian Army and banished from planet Keron!'
Giroro's whole body jerked as if he had been shot, eyes widening.
'The same goes for the entire Keroro Platoon!' Toruru continued angrily, 'Sergeant Takiki will take control of the platoon, effective immediately, and return to headquarters.'
'Captain Toruru,' Giroro said suddenly, his voice fierce, 'Stay away from this planet if you know what's good for you. If you choose not to heed this warning, then know this: Pekopon is defended. No.'
Giroro was enveloped in a bright flash of light. When they light faded, a young blonde man with steel gray eyes stood in his place.
'Earth is defended.'
The room filled with the same glowing light as the others followed Giroro's example.
Keroro became a thin young man, the same age as Giroro, with messy black hair and bottle green eyes.
Dororo appeared to be the same age as his old schoolmates, but it was hard to tell through his authentic Ninja garments. His mask and hair were both silvery gray, his bright blue eyes like chips of ice.
Kururu seemed to be a couple years younger then the others. His bright orange bangs covered one spectacled eyes and a pair of headphones were firmly clamped around his ears. His hazel eyes flashed dangerously.
Tamama was the youngest looking of the group, his black hair shining dark blue in the light. His big brown eyes stared out from beneath curling bangs.
Giroro allowed Toruru a brief moment to see the picture before he signaled to Kururu.
'I press,' Kururu muttered. Then, he cut off the transmission.
Kururu's memory wipe seemed to have worked perfectly. Things had settled into normality once more. Only those who were involved in that final battle had retained their memories of the past year.
At the Kisshou Academy, five new students had transferred in. Three of these students appeared in tenth grade with Natsumi and Koyuki.
Azumaya Dorohi was introduced as Koyuki's fraternal twin brother who had finally decided to join his sister in the city.
Hinata Kerorin was supposedly a cousin of Natsumi and Fuyuki's whose family had sent him to Tokyo for schooling.
Ikusa Giroku's story was that he had transferred schools due to his family moving to Tokyo.
One new student appeared in ninth grade with Fuyuki and Momoka.
Kureiji Kururu - who had refused to change his name, thank you very much - was exotic-looking enough to claim that he had moved from England. It helped that he knew English anyway.
The final transfer student appeared in eighth grade.
Nishizawa Tamama was Momoka's younger brother who had been kept in isolation due to a childhood illness. Apparently, he had just been healed and was now strong enough to be in the outside world.
Nobody questioned the sudden influx of new students.
They all gathered to eat lunch together and it was almost normal. While the others were busy talking, Giroro - that is, Giroku - sat himself beside Natsumi, is face slightly flushed.
'Before,' Giroku said, fingers twisting nervously, ' You were going to say something about when everything was all over. W-what were you going to say?'
Instead of answering, Natsumi simply kissed him. They walked back to class that afternoon hand in hand.