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For the Irken Who Has Every...

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By Anonymous-Materials   |   Watch
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Published: September 13, 2009
This is the first chapter in a story set in 630kila’s “Both Syllables” series, a crossover between Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Lilo & Stitch and Invader Zim. As such this will hold spoilers for everything up to the sixth story in the series, “Take On Me,” though this is set some indeterminate time later, with Zim stuck on Earth. Those not familiar with the series would do well to check it out, as it’s a crossover that works remarkably well, and is very fun to read.

As the title may suggest, this is also an adaption of the Superman comic “For the Man Who Has Everything,” though with some significant differences. My hope is that those familiar with the original story will still find this adaption engaging.

Disclaimer: Kila and MALIK are property of 630kila. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command characters and Lilo & Stitch characters are property of Disney. Invader Zim characters are property of Viacom. I claim no ownership of any of these characters.


For the Irken Who Has Everything

A Both Syllables story.

"Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi.

But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi.”
-Zhuangzi


...

He was hunched over the table, his small, gloved hands tinkering at the tiny device before him. Holding a thin, purple tool, he bit his lip as he carefully placed a tiny screw within. It was a delicate operation, often given to precision machines. However, he had wanted to do it manually, for no other reason then that he could. If the screw was shaken even a little, or if too much force was applied, it could easily damage components inside and ruin several hours of work. That wouldn’t happen, though. Why would it? He was much better than that.

Finally, after several twists that were almost agonizing in their tepidness, the instrument was removed. Smiling at his handiwork, he placed a small piece of metal on the opening, and snapped it in. He rolled it in his hands a few times, admiring the craftsmanship. It appeared to be extremely simple: just small enough to fit in his hand, the device was almost a half sphere, its surface almost completely smooth, disturbed by several, tiny holes that were positioned above a small button on top.

Now the moment of truth. He held it in his right hand, and clicked the button with his thumb. Immediately a voice from inside the device spoke out:

“After toiling away at the machine for many, grueling hours, the respected and renowned scientist had finally succeeded in creating an incredible device. Anyone who would press the button would hear the praise and respect they most richly deserve. This was truly a marvel of engineering, one that would be remembered by all, and one that could have only been made by the incredible, the magnificent, the genius...Zerinim.”

“Ha!” he shouted in triumph. The device not only worked, it spoke absolute truth. Their wasn’t a scientist on Irk that was as magnificent as he was. And when he thought about how all the irkens birthed would learn of his name, and of his many accomplishments, he could barely hold in the absolute glee he felt. Of course, while this was an incredible device, the other thing he was working on would be so much greater.

His thoughts were interrupted by squeaking sounds at his feet, followed by a small tugging. Glancing down, Zerinim saw a small blob looking up at him with two, pure black eyes.

“Oh, I almost forgot!” He dug into one of his coat pockets and took out a small, grey capsule. He got on one knee and held it above the blob. “Come on, get it, get it...” The blob quivered for a second, then stretched up and snatched the capsule out of his hand. It chewed for a moment, then jiggled as the capsule popped and released it’s energy.

Zerinim laughed and picked the blob up, tickling it. “Who’s a good infinite energy absorbing thingy? Who is? Who is?” The blob giggled, it’s form quivering like it was going to burst.

Setting it back down, Zerinim stretched his arms out and walked towards a shuttered window. With a click of a button, the shutters zoomed up to show the city skyline outside. It was the break of dawn, and he could still see the silhouettes of the moons hovering above. Hover vehicles zoomed in, out and around buildings, and down on the streets millions of irkens moved about their business, all of which that served some greater good to the empire. Zerinim felt his heart swell with pride as he gazed upon the scenery.

Glancing to the side, he could make out his reflection in the window. He was wearing one of his white lab coats, buttoned up completely. His green, scaley skin was vibrant upon completing his latest invention, and his maroon eyes shone in the sunlight. He twitched his antenna back and forth, stretching them after being tense all night.

He is Head Scientist Zerinim. He is the most capable and most intelligent scientist in this generation, or any other, and has spearheaded some of the most groundbreaking projects in recent history. The Irken Empire is at the peak of its power, and in fact, has never been more powerful then it is now. He shares a deep bond with Tallest Miyuki, one of the most powerful irkens in the empire, and who he personally knows to be one of the greatest.

He has everything he could have ever dreamed of, and more.

He is content.

...

Lilo Pelekai tapped her foot impatiently, looking at the screen of her cell phone. The clock in the corner gave her 3:34 as the time.

She groaned. “Dib, where are on Earth are you?” She put it back her pocket and proceeded to pace in the circles. No doubt she looked crazy, walking around in a dirty alley. Not that she had much choice: if she were out in the open waiting, she would have been spotted easily. And this was supposed to be a surprise. She wished Stitch was here, then she at least wouldn't have been alone, but he had already promised to help a fellow experiment with a construction project. One that would take all day.

Just when she was ready to march to Dib’s house, she heard ragged breathing coming from behind her. She turned around and saw the boy, glasses beginning to fall off, stop in front of her and slouch over. He had his usual attire on, a black trenchcoat over a t-shirt with a simple, apathetic face. He made quick, small gasps, trying to get his breath back. When he looked up briefly he met with an accusatory stare.

“S-Sorry!” he gasped, holding a hand out. “I’m sorry. Dad’s been on the phone with a bunch of scientists all day, and Gaz broke my cell phone because her pizza had the wrong toppings.”

Lilo crossed her arms and stared at him accusingly. “Couldn’t you have used Gaz’s cell phone?” When she got an agitated look in return, Lilo realized what she was asking. “Of course not,” she muttered, “she probably would have broken your arm too.”

“Exactly!” he said, and straightened himself back up. He readjusted the glasses on his face, and looked around. “Why are you waiting in a dingy alley like this? And by yourself?” As he said that he could’ve sworn he heard tiny scampering of feet in a dumpster behind him.

Lilo rolled her eyes. “Well if someone had been here on time I wouldn’t be by myself, would I?”

Dib groaned. “I’m sorry, okay?! Do you know how hard it is to find a gift for a guy that hates you? And when you don’t have an allowance?” He threw his hands up at the last statement, and gave the alley another cursory glance. He was now noticing numerous cracks and holes that probably held all sorts of vermin and insects. He was also soon aware of the foul odor that permeated everywhere. “And that still doesn’t explain why it’d have to be a disgusting place like this!”

“I know it’s bad, Dib, but there isn’t any other place to hide!” She glanced outside the alley, being careful to only sneak a peek without completely exposing herself. Zim’s home stood between two houses, the street going right in front of it. Further down, the street met with a somewhat large intersection.

“You see?” she said, nodding towards the intersection while making sure Dib was still somewhat hidden. She ducked back in and looked at him. “If we came from over there, he would’ve spotted us! And behind his house isn’t much better.”

“This is just way too much work,” Dib said, and he started to pace back and forth, keeping his eyes on the ground in case a rat or anything else decided to run out. “I mean, when ever he’s not insulting us, he just goes on and on about how great he is! I’m not even sure why I even agreed to do this!”

“Because you and Zim have to get used to each other eventually, and this would be a good start,” Lilo said. She smiled mischievously. “And also because I’m a hard person to say ‘no’ to.”

Dib knew that was true. Unless you were her sister or worst enemy, it was difficult to deny a request from Lilo. She had a way of pleading and looking at you that would make almost anyone feel bad for saying “no.” Dib suspected that even Zim would have a little trouble refusing her. It didn’t help that she was good friend (one of his only friends, really), or that she was one of the few genuinely nice people Dib knew. Saying “no” would have made him feel awful later on.

“Besides,” Lilo continued, “we know Zim’s been through a lot, and throwing him a surprise like this could really make him feel good. And Kila said he likes gifts.”

“Speaking of Kila, just where is she?” Dib asked.

Lilo shrugged. “I don’t know. When I talked to her last, she said she was still working on her own present for him. It might not be ready for a while.”

Dib couldn’t help but feel nervous about that. When Kila was working on something, whether it was tech or plant, it often had some capability of causing general mayhem. He suppressed a shudder: if she was making something for Zim, then it was probably going to show up on the news sometime in the near future. Probably tomorrow, knowing those two.

The conversation died after that. The two children stood just before the alleyway, unsure of what to talk about. Lilo eventually took her cell phone out to make sure she hadn’t received any other messages, while Dib screwed his foot around on the ground.

“So, uh...” Dib struggled to think of something, anything, to say. However all that came to mind was something that had been discussed before, practically to death. “Zim’s birthday, huh? Kinda funny it’s happening so soon. For us, that is. I mean, the Irken calendar is just way different from ours and all that...”

Lilo nodded. “Yeah, I’m still not sure how Kila found out about it.”

“How did she find out? I thought all the records and stuff got fried when...well, y’know.”

“She said they had backups that didn’t get blown up. Like, they didn’t want to risk having everything they know in one place.” That’d be silly, she knew. Like putting a big button that could blow up...

Lilo shook her head. She wasn’t going down that road again. It was depressing and in the past, like a lot of other things she didn’t like thinking about.  “I mean, I can’t think of how else she’d know,” she said, shrugging. “Zim would have to tell her, and he doesn’t seem that open. Plus I don’t think Irkens did birthdays anyway.”

“Which is another thing,” Dib said, pointing at her. “Zim’s not a festive guy. The last time he tried that he nearly killed us all with a giant, robo Santa Claus. The only time he celebrates anything is if it works into his world conquest scheme, or if you beg him! What’ll we do if he doesn’t let us in?”

“Well then, we’ll just keep bugging him until he does,” a male and electronic voice said.

The children looked down at the other end of the alley, and saw two short forms approaching. One looked vaguely humanoid, almost feminine, with a distinctive red helmet, and the other rolled towards them on treads, with a can-shaped body and a giant, glass dome housing a gold, cylindrical head.

A broad smile grew on Lilo’s face. “XR! MALIK! You guys made it!”

“Well, after all the trouble we had to go through just to get here, you bet we were going to make it!” XR said, throwing his arms open to receive a hug from Lilo. The two gave each other a good squeeze, and then Lilo turned around and gave MALIK a hug. The other robot received it far less enthusiastically then XR, but didn’t raise any objections either.

“I see that you are well, Lilo Pelekai,” MALIK stated, as Lilo let go and stood back to her full height. “I fail to see why we had to meet here, though. This spot is revolting.”

“Because he’s probably got every inch of his house wired and watching everything, who cares?! I’m just glad to be back on this gorgeous little piece of land! And I do mean gorgeous,” XR said, almost too enthusiastically, now that Lilo thought about it. He was wearing one of his tropical shirts, which was barely large enough to fit around his casing. The buttons and shirt strained against each other, looking ready to pop off.

“So, did you guys have any trouble getting here?” Dib asked, approaching them. “I mean, it must be kinda tough finding time to come all the way out here and everything.”

“I’ve been able to arrange my duties so that I could have...‘free time’ for the next several hours. The most probable incidents that could occur in my absence can be handled by others.” MALIK hated those two words together. “Free time.” She was always trying to find ways to keep herself busy and productive. What they were doing now would hardly qualify for either, and it greatly agitated her. She was told it would be “good for Zim,” but she had her doubts. Zim was the same way about work (or so she believed, in her case it was difficult to be sure) and XR was going to pay if she’d been dragged all this way for nothing.

“That’s good,” Lilo said. “I think Zim’s going to like having you here, MALIK.”

MALIK stared at Lilo for a second, then turned her attention to the edge of the alley, as if looking at something faraway. When the robot didn’t say anything else, Lilo turned to look at XR. “And they’re okay with you being here too?”

XR laughed. A nervous one all of them knew too well. “Ha ha, w-well, of course! Star Command had no problems with it. I-I mean, we did kinda work together, and, um, i-it’s not like I had anything planned or, or whatnot and-”

“His date dumped him,” MALIK said stoically.

XR glared at her and threw his hands out. “SIS! What the heck?! That was private!”

“You were stuttering like a buffoon, and they would have figured it out eventually,” she replied, still looking down the alley.

“You had a date?” Lilo gasped. “Oh, I’m sorry XR! Was it because you were coming out here?”

“What? No! No! Don’t think, I mean, it’s not like that at all! I, uh..well...” He scratched the back of his glass dome “I...called her up to let her know there was a family emergency, and that I couldn’t make it, and...uh...” He groaned miserably. “Her boyfriend picked up.”

“Ouch,” Lilo and Dib said together.

“‘Ouch’ is right. ‘Ouch’ is what I was going to be saying if I ever called again, he told me. Oh well, story of my life...” His gaze was lowered on the ground, a miserable expression on his face.

And then he instantly perked up. “But hey! That was then, this is now, and now I’m with my friends at a great place with beautiful women and–no, no, I mean...” He sighed. “Look, believe me. I’m serious, I did come here to have fun with all you guys. Really, it doesn’t happen enough. I’m not trying to find another girl or anything, but when something like this happens and...I mean, I should be used to stuff like this, but...aw, geeze.” He clasped his dome between his hands, hoping somehow it would help him concentrate.

Lilo giggled. “It’s okay XR, I’m just glad you came out today. And I’m sure you’ll find someone. It’s a big universe, right?”

XR perked up at the encouragement. “Exactly! Exactly! That’s what I was thinking! It’s an ocean of stars and everything, you know?”

MALIK huffed.“You’re wasting your time, XR.”

“MALIK! Be nice your brother!” Lilo scolded.

MALIK looked at Lilo. “My ‘brother’ will always have terrible luck with the female races, if not because of his personality, or because he’s a machine, then because he bears resemblance to many forms of water containers.”

XR glared. “Hey, just so you know Kila is the only person who can call me a buck-”

He stopped in mid-sentence when it dawned on him. “Say, where’s Kila, anyway? Is she still working on that gift or something?”

“Yeah,” Dib said. “Lilo called earlier and it wasn’t ready. Personally? I’m not sure I want to know.”

“Yeah, you and me both, kid. I’d ask her myself, but with stuff like this, she’ll either ignore you completely or just give you a really creepy answer. She just likes to keep her ‘projects’ secret.”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad,” Lilo said. She clapped her hands together. “Well, Kila might not be here yet, but I think we can stop hiding and go over now. If he gives us problems, I think MALIK could convince him otherwise.” MALIK would have rolled her eye if it were capable, but didn’t say anything.

The small group walked out of the alley and started heading towards Zim’s home, with XR relating to them an incident involving Porcelon ambassadors, whose species, coincidentally, resembled toilets.

What they didn’t know was that something inside Zim’s home knew they were there, and had been watching them the entire time.

It wasn’t a machine. And it wasn’t Zim.

...

Zerinim strutted down the street, head held high and whistling to himself. In one hand he held a small bag, which held rolled up schematics, holograph projectors, some tasty snacks and several, miscellaneous tools that he had particular fondness for (all colored purple: Zerinim, as far as he knew, was the only scientist who personalized his tools.) The device he had finished this morning was resting snugly in the pocket of his white lab coat, which he occasionally caressed.

Although none of the irkens on the street waved at him–it was seen as a wasteful activity reserved only for The Tallest–they did slow down slightly and follow him as he went past. Once again Zerinim found himself barely containing his glee: they all knew who he was. The attention he garnered would never “get old” or “be typical,” like some of the more “humble” irkens claim.  It was a pleasure he would never tire of.

It was because of this high that he didn’t hear the irken behind him calling his name. In fact, it wasn’t until they were right next to him, practically shouting and grabbing his shoulder, that he finally noticed.

“Zerinim!”

He shook out of his daze, and spun around, anger filling him. Who would dare disturb him so suddenly and lay their hands...

It was a female irken, dressed in the uniform of the Irken Elite, with their insignia stamped on her forehead. By irken standards, she was almost unattractive, with a round face, short eyelashes and leaf-green eyes, and a height that was barely greater then his own. Contrasting with this was her antenna, which were rather exotic: midway, they shot straight down and started to curl, hanging off to the side of her head rather then from the back.

Outside The Tallest, she was perhaps the only irken who could get away with what she did, and not receive a string of curses and insults. His eyes narrowed, and much of the anger he felt was then replaced with mild irritation, which he didn’t bother to hide.

“What?” he asked. “What is it?! Why do you look so mad?”

The irken across from him groaned. “Sir, I’ve been trying to contact you for the past several hours! Why didn’t you answer?”

He rolled his eyes. “Because I turned my communications off when someone kept trying to call me.”

Her eyes narrowed. “I was only attempting to find out what you were going to do! Tallest Red and Purple are stopping by to check on your project, and if they don’t see anything that pleases them-”

“Pfft! My project will please them, once it’s ready. I just needed absolute concentration to work on this!” With that he took the device out, and showed it to the other irken. She looked down at it, confusion and bewilderment evident on her face.  Annoyed at not getting the reaction he wanted, he forcefully shoved it into her hands. “Go on! Press the button!” he said excitedly.

The soldier rolled her eyes, and pressed it. Like this morning, a voice was heard:

“Loyal, obedient, and steadfast in her work and duties, she is truly the exemplary soldier. One that is to be respected, admired and looked up to. She is the peak of Irken military training, a shining example to all irken kind of what is to be expected when serving the mighty empire! There is no one in the galaxy that is as courageous, as dutiful, as deserving of her position, as Irken Elite Mik!”

Zerinim grinned brightly as she stared at the device speechless. “Do you like it, Mik?” he asked. Not hearing an immediate answer, he went on. “It’s able to discern the identity of any irken who presses it, and from their recent history and activities can cobble together a glorious speech of just how great they are! I even got it to say the name last! It’s just so much more dramatic, wouldn’t you say?”

Any moment, he was expecting to hear her gush about what a wonderful device it was. What an ingenious device it was. Instead, she turned her face up to look at him, with a deadpan expression. “This. This is what you’ve been working on all night?”

“Yeeessss! Isn’t it amazing?!” he gushed.

She stared at him evenly, and he knew that he wasn’t going to be getting the response he wanted. “You can’t be serious!” She groaned loudly, throwing her hands out and dropping the device in the process. Zerinim lurched forward and caught it before it hit the ground. “The Tallest are expecting a weapon or device that could help them conquer galaxies, and you’re trying to impress them with a-a-a toy?!

Zerinim gave an indignant gasp. “Toy? Can a mere ‘toy’ dive into the minds of the Irken Control Brains, the databases of our central network, the memory cores of our reconnaissance satellites, and take all together random information about one, specific irken and make a comprehensible, consistence speech that praises them?!”

Mik blinked. In barely a whisper, she asked, “You...you made a device that hacks into that? All of that?”

He grinned. “Pretty amazing, huh?”

“Amazing? Yes, amazingly dangerous, and amazingly illegal! Ziiiimmm...” she drawled miserably.

“What? I’m the Head Scientist! I can do stuff like this! And if something happens then-”

“You can go to Tallest Miyuki, I know, I know, but...” Mik sighed. “You’re an incredible scientist, and you can do almost anything you put your mind to, but stuff like this is going to get you in trouble someday, and...” She trailed off, and then shook her head. Her tone became flat again. “No, nevermind. Let’s just go to the lab. They wanted me to test some of their new weapons today, anyway.”

“Ooooh!” he whispered, pocketing the device and starting to walk with her. “Is it that laser that can turn someone inside out?

“Huh? Oh, no, someone tested that yesterday. But it did it to the one holding the gun...”

They talked to each other as they walked. Their stories were of military blunders or scientific mishaps. They spoke about what they did, who they saw, which irkens they didn’t like or why. The conversations had become something of a morning ritual, as their schedules often had both of them busy morning through night. It was these walks that they could freely speak to one another.

After complaining about some of the new recruits, Mik asked a question: “Are you going to attend it?”

“Attend ‘it’?” Zerinim said questionably, taking some candy out of his tool bag.

“Yes, you know, the Invader Homecoming.”

There was a momentary silence from Zerinim, who just held the candy in his hands. “Oh,” he said simply. He shrugged. “Probably not. Want some taffy?” He held out a taffy bar before Mik’s confused face. She glanced at him before taking it with an appreciative nod.

“Thanks,” she said, opening it, “I haven’t eaten anything today.” She took a small bite out of the bar, swallowing it before continuing. “But why wouldn’t you want to come? I mean, they’re the driving force behind Operation Impending Doom II. Everyone wants to meet them. You might even get some new ideas from what they have to say.”

“Well there’s probably not that many left,” he said dismissively, chomping into his candy bar.

“Actually, I think they’re all coming back. Well over thirty, anyway,” Mik said, taking another bite. “It’s amazing, really. Even our most optimistic forecasts saw at least ten percent failing to complete their mission, either due to an exceptionally hostile environment or some physical disadvantage.”

“Oh, I heard about some of those. One was like...uh, deaf or something. Invader Barf?”

“Invader Darth, and he’s blind, not deaf. Supposedly he had an optical operation, but some of the reports I’ve read-”

”Oh well, point is I’ve got a lot of work to do and won’t be able to come up. Too bad,” he said quickly, finishing his candy bar off.

Mik stared at him in disbelief. “Zim, don’t tell me you’re still nervous about Inva-”

Her mouth was suddenly clamped over by one of his hands, still holding the wrapper. “Shh!” he said, raising a finger up to his lips. Mik looked at him, bewildered and slightly disgusted, and it was then that realization took hold. They were on the edge of the skaatel sector, where members of conquered alien species were placed while they constructed new buildings for the city. One of these was being built next to them, its workers high above setting down curved beams. Taking his hand away, Zerinim set his items down and quietly walked towards the building. He motioned for Mik to follow him, which she soon did after a moment’s hesitation, and throwing away the foil that stuck to her mouth.

As the two slid through a dividing fence and walked along the foundation of the building, Mik found her voice. “Zim, what are we doing?” she hissed quietly as they walked deeper into the structure. Distant voices were heard up above, followed by the hissing noise of metal being welded together. “You do know where we are, right? And what happens to irkens who wander out here unattended?”

“I’m not unattended. You’re here, right?”

She groaned. “That’s not the point! Some of the races in this sector are angry and dangerous! I’ve heard the ones working on this building can be particularly vio-”

She was cut off by a high pitched cry from above. The two irkens jumped to the side as a small form wearing dirty, grey rags leapt down from the floor above. Stumbling slightly, it quickly ran at Zerinim, swinging a metal pipe at him. Mik’s PAK opened up and a small laser snaked out. Dropping the taffy and grabbing the gun, she pointed it at the tiny attacker, noticing it’s dark, black hair, and cursed when she saw how close it was to the scientist. “Zim, get away from him!”

“No need!” the other irken said, who was casually sidestepping the clumsy swings of the attacker. Grinning widely, Zerinim stood still and put his hands behind him. “Come on, is this the best you got, stink beast?” Growling, the small form lunged forward, only to go careening to the ground when Zerinim activated his PAK legs, moving out of the way completely. The attacker’s pipe went rolling across the ground, finally dropping into a nearby hole.

Zerinim used one leg to hook the creature’s shirt, and pulled him up so that they could see each other face to face. It was a small human, wearing a pair of glasses that were sloppily taped together. He glared at Zerinim defiantly, and swung his arms and legs out trying to attack him.

Mik leveled her laser, but Zerinim raised a hand. “I said that won’t be necessary, Mik.” He shook the human off, and let him crash to the ground before coming down himself, the legs retracting inside his PAK.

As the human struggled to get up, Zerinim shook his head disapprovingly. “Tisk tisk tisk, Dib. Do you even try to get the drop on me, or are such maneuvers beyond your puny little mind?” Finally back on his feet, Dib turned around to look at Zerinim, gritting his teeth. “It is a little surprising, though,” Zerinim continued, “because one would think that with a head as big as yours, it’d house a brain capable of planning something better.”

“Shut up!” Dib charged again, and again Mik raised her weapon. But before Dib could even get halfway across the floor, another figure burst out the darkness and grabbed him.

“Stop Dib!” it said, with a female voice. Contrasting to the pale human, this one had dark skin, and black hair that hung just below her ears. She was wearing similar clothes to the human boy, though noticeably less dirty. She pleaded with him, struggling to hold him back. “Dib, please! You’re going to get everyone in trouble!”

“Let go of me, Lilo!” Dib shot back. “I have to do this!”

“It won’t change anything, Dib!” Lilo said, and slowly the struggling from Dib begun to lessen. “He’s not a soldier, or an invader or anything! Hurting him won’t help anyone.” She looked back at the other two irkens apologetically. “Please, I’m sorry. It’s just been a bad day for him, okay? It was hot and the guards wouldn’t let him rest or anything.”

Zerinim shrugged, and waved his hand dismissively. “Of course, of course, I believe you Lilo. Just go ahead and escort your friend back to the camp.”

Dib finally stopped, glaring at Zerinim behind his glasses. Zerinim shot him a zipper-tooth smile. “You should really be careful, Dib. One of these days your behavior’s going to get you in big trouble, and then what?”

“I don’t care,” he said, keeping eye contact with Zim, “I’m going to do everything in power to stop your tyranny, irken! You’ll be sorry for ever-”

“’Messing with the human race,’ blah blah, I’ve heard it a dozen times, Dib-stink. And I’m probably going to hear it a dozen more times before you decide to give up and admit you’ve been beaten.”

“NEVER!” Dib shouted, melodramatically.

Lilo sighed, and started to tug on his rags. “Let’s go home, Dib. I’ll share some of my food, because I don’t think you’ll be eating.” She started to walk away, Dib in tow, as he continued to stare at Zerinim. It wasn’t until they had walked behind a wall that eye contact was finally broken.

The two irkens stood their a second, and Mik gasped in surprise when Zerinim started laughing. “Ha ha ha, oh Dib, you never fail to disappoint.” He turned around and started towards the edge of the building, back the way they came. Mik stared at him, incredibly befuddled about what happened.

She quickly caught up to him and started to pelt him with questions. “Sir, what was that?!”

“That? Oh, nothing. Just a human who’s trying to put up a last ditch ‘defense’ against our ‘tyranny.’” He chuckled.

“But he was attacking you! Isn’t that cause for concern?! If he does it again-”

“It wouldn’t matter,” he shrugged, as they once again passed through the fence. “Like I said, he’s tried this dozens of times already, and every time I leave vict-”

“Dozens? Dozens?! It’s been going on that long?!” she shouted incredulously.

Zerinim nodded, unconcerned. Mik’s face hardened and her voice became dangerously low. “In that case, I’ll mount a full investigation into this camp and the supervisor who controls it. How could he not know about something like this, and for so long?! I swear I’m going to have him shot, then I’ll execute that horrible little thing-”

He snickered. “Come on, Mik! It’s not that big a deal.”

Not that big a deal?! Zerinim, this is practically attempted murder!”

Zerinim sighed, and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, making her go stiff. “Mik, I don’t think you understand. That ‘horrible little thing’ is what the humans call a ‘child.’ It’s what they call their smeets. He’s hardly of any danger to me or anyone else. And to be honest, half the time I’m antagonizing him instead of the other way around.”

Mik blinked, turning to stare at him. “You...make him attack you?”

“And I go out of my way to make myself a target, like now.”

Her expression turned to one of disbelief. “Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” He took his arm off to walk around and look at her. “Most of these alien species still think they stand a chance against us. They’ll constantly work to inconvenience us every step of the way and–if we’re not careful–try to mount a resistance...even though the last big one was an utter failure.” Mik nodded. Zerinim knew she was thinking of the Resisty, that had been dissolved some time ago. “So I find it important to utterly CRUSH their spirits when they’re young and reckless. If we do that, then they’ll give us hardly any trouble when they become more useful adults.”

Mik nodded slowly, though she still looked far from convinced. Now out of the construction site, Zerinim picked his belongings off the ground, brushing some of the dust away. “Besides,” he said, “it’s just so fun.

...

Lilo stared at XR as they went up to Zim’s house, absolutely mortified.. “And Booster, did he actually...?”

“Oh Mother of Venus, no. He stopped just as we told him. I mean, if he actually did, I would probably be cleaning bathrooms in a restaurant far, far away from civilization. Still, the fact he almost did was enough to get them r-royally-”

He couldn’t finish, as Dib and Lilo had started to laugh halfway through, and soon he found himself joining in. MALIK shook her head disapprovingly. “I fail to see the humor in such a crude story, or in the almost complete destruction of diplomatic ties with an important ally.”

“Ha ha, oh lighten up, May,” Dib said, wiping tears away from his eyes. “You need to be able to laugh occasionally. Otherwise you’re just going to intimidate everyone you meet.”

“Intimidation can be very useful in my occupation,” she retorted, reaching the front door. She looked it up and down, before finally pressing the door bell. “Zim, it is us. We have come to...ugh, ‘celebrate’ your birthday.”

They were met with an awkward silence. The four stood there, waiting for a high pitched, angry reply that never came. They turned to look at each other, confused. “Maybe he didn’t hear her?” Lilo asked.

Dib shrugged, surprised the defenses hadn’t activated and shot at them. Looking across the yard, he quizzically noticed an unusually large, square shaped hole in the ground. He chalked it up to something Zim was going to install.

XR grumbled, rolling over to the front door. “Hey Zim, will you open up already?! We’re not going to stand here all day!” He knocked on the door, and was surprised to see it move inward, revealing the inside of the house. The four stood there, looking inside, noticing the conspicuous lack of lighting.

They moved in, looking around. Zim was nowhere to be seen, and neither were GIR or Minimoose. “That’s...weird,” Dib said, scratching his head. “Where is he?”

“His door was unlocked,” MALIK stated, turning her visor towards the frame.

“Maybe he unlocked it when he heard you?” Lilo stood in the center of the living room, looking at an empty couch that had stains from various processed foods. Other then that, the house seemed remarkably in order and clean.

“Ah, he’s probably busy and didn’t want to say anything,” XR said, rolling from the kitchen. “He’s kind of absent minded, you know? Probably didn’t even think about it when he heard us.”

The others were silent. It was unusual, but not impossible. Dib and Kila had told numerous stories about the habits of Zim, and how not all of them made much sense.

Dib stroked his chin, looking at a light switch near the kitchen entrance. “Hmm, if this house is anything like the one in Michigan, then I think...” He flipped the switch, and soon the wall slid out to reveal an elevator. “Bingo!” he said, grinning.

As Lilo and Dib walked onto the elevator, XR looked back at MALIK, who was still examining the room, deep in thought. “Sis, come on. Is the wallpaper that fascinating or something?”

She stopped her observations and glared at him. “No. This just feels...wrong.”

“Barging in here?” XR asked, rolling onto the elevator, MALIK following behind him.

“The lights are off, the door was unlocked, we haven’t encountered any form of physical or even verbal resistance...” MALIK twisted her head to look back into the unimposing living room, before the door slid closed. A moment later, the group felt the elevator turn on, and starting heading down. “It’s just unusual,” she finally said.

“He’s probably just busy, or maybe...” Lilo smiled. “Oh! Maybe he’s waiting for us instead? So he can get his gifts?”

“You know, that reminds me. What did you guys get him?” XR asked, the elevator light reflecting off his dome.

Lilo grinned, diving into her pouch and pulling out several, small tapes. “Kila said he still uses a tape recorder, so I went around and bought some music he might like. Elvis, The Beatles, McBride...he likes a lot of old music, I think. What did you get him, XR?”

He shrugged, and fished out a small card in the shirt he wore. “Oh, uh, well there was a lot on my mind, so I kinda forgot to pick something up and...uh, well he likes pizza, right? I stopped by a pizza place on the way here and picked up a gift card. Twenty bucks should be good for a while, right?”

“That’s...usually good for two pizzas,” Dib said. There was a beat. “Maybe.”

“Oh...” XR shifted uncomfortably. “W-Well I’m sure he’ll probably just hack it to be infinite, anyway. What did you get him, sis?”

MALIK opened her own compartment and pulled out a metal case by its handle. “This planet’s technology is sorely lacking, so I thought it may be beneficial if Zim had a tool set that’s more to his advance standards. Hopefully it’ll be of some use; it’s cost was rather significant.”

“Oh, sure, make me look like a cheapskate, why don’t ya,” XR grumbled, not feeling very confident in his gift anymore.

“Don’t worry, XR. It’s the thought that counts, anyway,” Lilo said, patting his back. She looked at Dib, who seemed to be trying his hardest not to be noticed. “Dib, what did you get him?”

“Oh, me? Well, uh...” He reached into his pocket and pulled out several vials, of differing shapes and sizes. They were filled with an assortment of powders and liquids.

Lilo blinked, unsure of what to say. “Oh, uh...that’s nice. I think he does some chemistry, doesn’t he?”

MALIK focused on a few of the vials, and her lips pursed. “Dib, why is their Irken writing on some of those?” XR and Lilo looked at MALIK, and turned to look at Dib.

The boy tugged at his collar, even though it wasn’t too tight. “Uh, because...I, technically stole these from him a few years ago?”

Lilo gasped. “Dib! You stole those?!”

“H-hey, this was a long time ago, okay? Way before he started trying to be good or anything!”

XR frowned, secretly grateful he didn’t have to feel that embarrassed about his card anymore. “Yeah, that’s a nice gift alright. ‘Hey, here’s some stuff I snatched from you! Hope you enjoy!’”

“Hey, lay off! Like I said, it’s hard trying to find him something! These were all I could think of!”

MALIK had been looking at the vials, and tilted her head. “They don’t appear to have been opened recently.”

“Well of course not!” Dib put them back in his coat, his face flushed. “I didn’t know what was in them. They could have been bio weapons or poisons or...I was trying to save the Earth, okay?! Stop looking at me like that!”

Lilo sighed. “Dib...”

“I’m sorry, okay? It’s just...” He groaned. “Look, I just don’t see the point of doing all of this! I’m not saying we shouldn’t try being nice or supportive, but...” He waved his arms towards the elevator walls. “I mean, look at this! He has a base under his house! He could download any music, make any tools or even create some fake money! Zim can find or build practically anything he wants! What could we possibly get someone who already has every-”

He was cut off when the elevator came to a sudden halt, sending a jolt though all of them. The four cried out and latched to the walls to stop themselves from falling over. The door slid open a moment later, and everything went dark. Confused looks were exchanged among them.

“What was that all about?” Dib asked, reorienting himself.

MALIK walked over to the elevator panel, and opened it. She typed on a keyboard, watching the tiny screen. She frowned when nothing happened. “Nothing. We’ve been locked out.” She slammed the panel so hard it didn’t latch close. “I knew it,” she whispered.

“L-Let’s calm down,” Dib said, walking back to the center, “maybe Zim’s playing a joke on us?”

“No, Dib, for once I’m agreeing with May.” XR’s back opened up, and a thin arm holding a red gun came out, and the same happened with MALIK. They grabbed their weapons, and peered outside the elevator. “You two just stick behind us, okay? We’re not taking any chances.”

The two children kept quiet as they followed the robots in front of them. Their was still some lighting in the halls ahead, just enough to see where they were going. The two machines advanced slowly, looking down ominous halls and hiding their sounds as much as possible. Eventually MALIK and Lilo got a lead on them, as Dib stuck with XR. The latter was peering down dark halls.

“Do you think this is a coincidence?” Dib asked, keeping his voice low. “I mean, if something did happen, do you think it has anything to do with Zim’s birthday?”

“Maybe,” XR said, pointing his gun down a tunnel that seemed to descend into eternity. When nothing happened, he looked at him. “Really funny timing if that’s the case. But, well, who would know about this? It’s just-”

He was cut off by a shriek from Lilo. The two men whipped their heads around so fast it almost hurt them, and they ran to the source.

“Lilo!” Dib shouted, finding her on the ground, staring ahead. MALIK stood beside her, frozen. “Lilo, what happened?! Are you hurt or-”

“ZIM!” she shouted, almost tearfully, and pointed in front of her. Following her, Dib felt his stomach churn.

XR gulped. “Oh sweet Mother of Venus...”

Zim was standing ahead, a calm and almost peaceful look on his face. Seemingly growing out of his chest, however, was a batch of violet flowers that looked like roses. From these flowers was a mess of vines that wrapped all around Zim, clinging onto his body.

Dib helped Lilo up, unable to take his eyes off the grotesque spectacle. “W-What the hell?” he squeaked out.

They all moved forward, horrified at what was in front of them. Even MALIK, who was often difficult to read, was obviously disturbed.

“What happened to him?” XR whispered, eyeing the vines. Every so often they seemed to wriggle, as if alive.

Lilo was trying to hold back tears. “He’s not dead is he?!”

The statement made MALIK visibly quake. She quickly took out a medical scanner, and held it above Zim. After a few moments, it gave back a reading. Her tone was relieved. “No, his vital signs are stable, if faint. But I have no idea what this is...” She scanned the flower, hoping to find something about it in the medical database. Moments later, the device beeped and she was left staring at the screen.

“What is it?” Dib asked, trying to steady Lilo as she got on her knee to get a closer look.

“I don’t know,” MALIK whispered. “The scanner can’t find this plant anywhere in our records, and...it seems to be a hybrid of some kind. It has properties consistent with a plant and animal and...” She gasped. “There’s something mechanical inside it! This thing isn’t even natural!”

Dib blinked. “Hey, you don’t think this was Kila’s gift, do you?”

“What? No way! She wouldn’t do something like this!” XR replied.

“But this is her specialty, isn’t it?! Plants and stuff like that.”

“Whoever it is, I’ll find out,” MALIK hissed, putting the scanner away. She took her gun and ran down another hallway, all concept of stealth gone.

XR started out after her, but gave up before he got halfway across the ground. Nothing he said was going to make her stop now. He groaned and headed back to Dib and Lilo. Dib had grasped one of the vines, and was tugging on it with all his strength.

“URGH!” he cried, falling on his back. Not once had Zim budged, nor the vine he was pulling on. Lilo looked at it, biting her lip.

“Oh my god,” she whispered, “I think these things are growing into him.”

XR blinked, and turned to one of the vines wrapped around Zim’s head. He shuddered: Lilo was right, it looked like tiny appendages on the vines had somehow sunk between the scales on Zim’s head. There wasn’t any sign of blood, and it didn’t appear to be growing too deep, but...this was definitely similar to the vines Kila had. XR gulped. He really hoped this wasn’t her.

“What are we going to do?” Lilo asked.

XR started, noticing the two children were now looking at him. He suddenly realized he was technically the only officer nearby. He had to do something. After a moment of thought, he took in the layout of the room: there were a series of computers in one corner, what looked like a round table in the center, and several tunnels leading out. If he had to guess, this was where Zim did most of his communications.

He started towards one of the machines in the corner. “Okay, we aren’t trained for stuff like this, but if I call Star Command they can send some medical personnel.” As he reached the computer, he didn’t noticed the slightly scorched forms of GIR and Minimoose in the dark alcove nearby.

He started typing on the keyboard. “This shouldn’t take long. Zim’s communication technology should be more then enough to contact someone.” After a moment of waiting for the systems to boot up, he pressed a button and cleared his throat, switching back to Galactic Standard. “A-Attention! This is A-Tyr of Tyrinorma-Taim! I am reporting from the planet Earth, sector seventeen, area fifty-one of Federation space! Will the closest unit please respond?”

Lilo blinked in confusion. “What he’s saying?” she asked Dib in a hushed tone.

Dib shrugged. “I don’t know, that must be the language they use.”

XR ignored them, watching the screen expectantly. It flashed, and a person appeared. XR was expecting a space ranger, but not the one that showed on screen.

“This is Buzz Lightyear, what is your...” When the human space ranger saw who he was talking to, he lost his professional composure and stared. “A-Tyr?”

“Buzz?” XR checked the information being printed out, and gawked. He really was the closest space ranger in the area. “What are you doing all the way out here?! I thought they kept you around Capital Planet?”

“Something came up. What’s your situation?” XR moved to the side to give Buzz a better view. The human’s jaw dropped. “Is that...Zim? A-Tyr, what happened?!”

“We don’t know! We just got here and he was...I mean he’s not dead or anything, but we really need a medical expert for this!”

“Who did this? It wasn’t Kila, was it?”

XR groaned. “W-Would you guys stop blaming her for five minutes?! She wouldn’t do this! And whoever did is being chased by MALIK right now!”

“A-Tyr, who would...” Buzz slowed to a stop, his eyes widening. He turned to something offscreen and barked an order.

“Buzz? What is it? What’s wrong?” XR asked, unable to hide his apprehension. A moment later a couple LGMs waddled up, handing Buzz a paper. He started to scan it up and down.

“A-Tyr, the planet you’re on, uh, ‘Earth’,...you said ‘sector seventeen, area fifty-one’, right?”

“Riiiight,” he said, feeling more nervous. “Buzz, I know this planet is way out of our jurisdiction but-”

“It’s not that,” he said, flipping the pages over, “our scanners detected a starship leaving Planet Z a few days ago.”

“W-What?!” He couldn’t hide his shock, and behind him the children exchanged nervous looks.

“The odd thing was that its course would take it past virtually every planet in the Galactic Alliance, and near the Federation. We took some LGMs along to help run a new scanner to track it, but we lost it yesterday.”

“So?! What does this have to do with anything?!” XR actually had a strong feeling he knew, but held out on a vain hope that he was wrong.

Buzz’s look became grim. “A-Tyr, we couldn’t find any planet in the Alliance or Federation this far out that would be notable. But assuming a constant heading, then that ship would have to-” Buzz’s eyes suddenly shot open. “A-TYR! BEHIND YO-”

Buzz didn’t finish, cut off by a large, green blast of energy destroying the computer and creating an explosion. The children shrieked as XR came sliding across the floor towards them, his Hawaiian shirt now burned in several spots.

“W-What gives?!” XR shouted, switching back to English as he was helped up. “Who did that?!”

“I did.”

They froze. From the hallway MALIK ran down earlier was a tall form. It was covered in purple and grey armor, with a a billowing cape attached to it’s neck. In its right hand was a cannon with three barrels, one of them smoking from the blast before. In the other it held MALIK’s still body by her left arm, her shell covered in black marks. It had red eyes, green “teeth” and a pair of horns on its head. And below that head was a emblem with the letter “Z” emblazoned upon it.

“Good afternoon, everyone!” Zurg said cheerfully, spreading his arms out in a welcoming manner, swinging the weapon and MALIK. “Why, this is turning out to be such a wonderful birthday, isn’t it? Ha ha ha ha...”
© 2009 - 2020 Anonymous-Materials
The first chapter in a story set in the Both Syllables series by :icon630kila:

Check her stories out if you haven't already!
Comments5
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Maran-Zelde's avatar
Maran-ZeldeProfessional Traditional Artist
This is awesome. I got a Deviant account just so I could read chapter 3, in fact, but I thought I should review this chapter first. Zim’s dream is as intriguing as the real story. I thought it was a flashback until Mik came into it; then I figured out that it’s Zim’s wonderful life of doom.

I’m also working on a Both Syllables fanfiction, believe it or not. Mine isn’t this epic, but I hope I can at least live up to the high-quality writing of the series.
Anonymous-Materials's avatar
Cool! Glad you like the story!

Mind if I share that last paragraph with :icon630kila:? I'm sure she'll be flattered to hear something like that!
Maran-Zelde's avatar
Maran-ZeldeProfessional Traditional Artist
She already knows. ^^ She's beta-ing it, in fact.
SaintHeartwing's avatar
SaintHeartwingStudent General Artist
YES! You put it up on DA! I'm favin' every chappie. :)