For all those who want to know how this all ends, here it is. Of course, if you're new, I personally think that you should go back and read the other Apocalypse Now stories that I've written since they all technically link together. If you don't feel like it, that's fine too. With a bit of patience, you can piece together the general gist of the last two parts if you're in a hurry.
Chapter 1: Scourge of the Universe
"The first thing we must ask ourselves is: 'why do we fight?'" Keroro paced importantly around the cramped cabin of the K66 transport vehicle giving nasty looks to anyone who spoke when he was speaking. He wore a pair of reflective sunglasses while a Keronian custom trench coat adorned the rest of his body. It was the shiny gold crown on his head with the engraved word "General" that was making the air inside the ship very cold and hostile, however.
"Just because he kills Dimentio singlehandedly doesn't give him the right to wear that obnoxious thing," Natsumi snarled, grinding her teeth in frustration. While Fuyuki tried to calm her down, Giroro's foot began to twitch annoyingly.
"Don't you usually clean your weapons when you're board, Corporal?" asked Tamama, desperate to make idle chatter to pass the time.
"You remember what happened the last time I cleaned weapons on a ship? PTSD, soldier, I'm sure you understand."
"Aren't you supposed to be the tough guy? Post traumatic stress disorder? Please!"
"Oh yeah…being blasted out of a ship and hurled toward a sun, then by a stroke of good fortune, landing safely on your home planet only to be beaten and chained. Just your normal day on the job," grunted Giroro and turned away in order to hide just how fractious he was becoming.
The cramped condition on the ship was beginning to get to everyone. Even Kururu, master of mischief, architect of annoyance, was feeling the strain of hours upon hours of immobility. He clicked away aimlessly on his computer and fiddled incessantly with his glasses. Kururu had recently acquired a fondness for the mindlessly simple yet satisfying style that classified games from Pekopon. In his opinion, blowing stuff up with C4 was a far cry more entertaining than the endless strategy simulators he was forced to undertake during his training years. Smiling to himself as he booted up yet another FPS, Kururu began to imagine the fun days he would enjoy once this whole mess was over.
Keroro's voice, now shrill from yelling, cut sharply through Kururu's daydreams, "The next thing we must ask ourselves is 'who do we fight?' Not fighting or cowardice is unbecoming of a soldier such as myself, but fighting the wrong peoples is just plain stupid!" he paused to take a swig of water from a canteen resting on the ground. "Intelligence! Intelligence is what we need and is what we sorely lack! Kururu! I know you aren't listening to me! Stop your idle play! Your comrades need YOU!"
Kururu shook his head with disgust. Even he was beginning to feel embarrassed at his superior's ostentatious display of pride and status. Choosing to blatantly ignore, Kururu racked up another kill streak with a derisive "ku ku ku".
Snarling with indignant rage, Keroro marched over and slammed shut the cover of Kururu's laptop. There was a pause in where everyone cringed backward in the fight that was about to ensue. However, instead of confronting, the Sergeant Major just lay back: "That's just like you, captain. Ruin my triple digit K/D, the one success this platoon has had in ages."
Rolling over, Kururu fell asleep. Natsumi and Giroro gave each other pointed looks. Unless the platoon could work together, nothing was going to get done. Snarling with frustration, Giroro heaved himself up and walked over to Keroro.
"Corporal!" screeched Keroro before Giroro had a chance to open his mouth, "Wake up your disrespectful comrade now!"
"First, take off that STUPID hat!" yelled Giroro, ripping the golden atrocity off his superior's head and throwing it into a corner of the ship, "You may be platoon leader, but you're light-years from being a General!" while Keroro pouted, Giroro walked over to the sleeping yellow form of the Sergeant Major and kicked him smartly in the back. With a scream, Kururu jumped up and flipped over his laptop resulting in a wince inspiring face plant.
"Kururu! Put that mind of yours to work figuring out what the heck we're up against. This planet we're going to, I need blueprints of their buildings and architectural layout. Tamama, check the navigation equipment to make sure we're still on course. Dororo, I want you to take a look at the prints when Kururu can get them to you. Plan the best route in and out."
While Giroro shouted commanding orders, Keroro stood still and pouted, arms swinging idly at his side. Finally, when he could stand it no longer, he yelled, "But what am I going to do?"
"You…" Giroro struggled to find a use for his leader, "You go sit there in the corner. Time-out."
While Keroro tearfully made his way to the time-out corner, Momoka and Fuyuki sat quietly in the corner. Thanks to the emergency medical pods on their ship, the multiple injuries the two had sustained were nothing more than painful memories now. While this would have been a good time to talk about their feelings for each other, the events of the previous day had left them mentally drained. Simple silence would be enough for now, Momoka lightly resting her head on her boyfriend's shoulder.
Thanks to Giroro's violent intervention, the ship was silent for the first time in hours. All that could be heard was the deep breathing of Dororo and Koyuki's meditation, the rhythmic clicking of Kururu's research and the faint sobs of Keroro from the corner. It put Aki into a good mood, and she began to imagine what an incredible manga could be made from the story she was living. As her mind wandered, Kururu suddenly began laughing, startling everyone in the ship.
"Lookie here! I finally found something on this mysterious tribe we're going up against!"
Keroro immediately jumped up and ran toward Kururu, grabbing him by the shoulders, "I knew you could do it!"
Kururu frowned, but allowed his leader to shake his limp body before continuing on. "You losers are probably wondering why I took so long to get the intel. I'm not kidding you when I say there is no word of these mofos anywhere on the intergalactic web. I've scoured shipping logs, radio broadcasts, everything!"
"What does that mean for us?"
"Whoever or whatever these entities are," sighed Kururu with an air of depression, "They don't want to be found and seem ridiculously self-sufficient. Since there are no shipping logs or even records of ships flying close to this planet, it looks as if they built the Apocalypse Vortex Climactic Weapon (the WMD they used to siege Pekopon) completely on their own, which actually worries me."
"With all the radiation signatures coming from this place," yelled Tamama, looking at the gages on the front of the ship, "You'd think that somebody would go investigate."
"Exactly," cried Kururu, throwing his hands in the air, "From the records I can find, over a thousand ships have headed this way over the last decade and none have returned! We're dealing with some kind of planetary shield."
There was a stunned silence in which everybody tried to make sense of the Sergeant Major's revelation. Finally, Fuyuki spoke up, "We've all been to plenty of alien planets before. How come no other extraterrestrials have planetary shields?" his voice wasn't loud, but it reverberated all around the small cabin. There was another awkward silence, punctuated only by the beeping of gauges on the control panels in the front.
The lack of a smart-alecky Kururu response unnerved Dororo to the point of talking. As soon as the first syllable came out of his mouth, however, everyone jumped. He had been forgotten. Dororo felt his consciousness sliding as unbidden memories of his childhood rose from the depths of his corrupted psyche. Shaking his head sharply, Dororo pulled himself back into reality. The question had to be asked. "So, since none of us have heard of a 'planetary shield', am I to think this is unknown technology?"
The Sergeant Major turned around and, bent double, shuffled his way to the time-out corner. While the others watched him go surprised silence, his voice could be faintly heard lamenting, but edged with the poison of jealous rage.
"I thought I was the smartest…I thought I had the best technology…who do these losers think they are…I'll show them…ku ku ku…"
The group traded looks and silently agreed on a course of action. They had no idea what a planetary shield could do, or when they would run into it on their course to the unknown planet. Aki went with Tamama to man the controls and watch for any visible obstacles. Koyuki and Dororo sat in the corner and extended their consciousnesses through meditation in order to try and pinpoint the shield's location. Meanwhile, Fuyuki, Momoka, and Giroro took over at Kururu's laptop to try and find some answers.
As the minutes stretched into hours, beads of sweat rolled down the team's faces. Keroro discovered as he walked over to try and persuade Kururu to help, that the Sergeant Major was indeed researching fervently on a tablet. Keroro began helping Kururu transcribe the findings.
Save for quiet, occasional murmurs, the tick of the keyboard and the scribbling of a pencil on paper, the ship was quiet once again, but for a different reason. The humans didn't know what they were up against, and for the first time, neither did the keronians. It was that fear of the unknown that drove them to such a frantic ecstasy of concentration.
Their eyes were bloodshot, their hands had cramps. Sweat rolled down their faces even in the air conditioned interior. Knuckles white, teeth clenched, the time ticked on as their ship got ever nearer to the mysterious planet. Ever nearer.