Author Note: This story was posted on another name, but I removed it before I ever finished it. It sat in my files, just staring at me. So I've finally decided to give it the ending it deserves!
Don't look for it on the other name, it isn't there anymore.
This is the story of an Irken. She's not an Invader. She's not a Marauder, Conqueror, or even involved with the military at all. She's never met Zim in person, but she's heard about him in the news. She's only moderately tall. She's never met the tallest, as she's not even tall enough herself to rank anything higher than nosebleed section seats at their speeches. She's only a simple, ordinary Irken, despite the fact that they named her Original.
This is my story.
In the early morning light coming in through the blue haze that encircled the planet, the silver incubator pods hummed breathily in the chilly air. Nestled within lay several small, sleepy Irkens, all cozy and tucked in. We don't handle the cold very well, so on a planet like Irk where the nights can reach subzero, we need to sleep in warmed incubators. Think of it as a combination of tanning both and bed, only we never get tans.
Fourth incubator in the fifty-sixth row of the girl's wing. Yes, that's me. Right there, trying to stay asleep even though I'm getting little jolts of electricity through my antennae telling me that it's time to get up. All around me, sleepy Irken eyes of all shades of red, purple, and green are slowly coming open. The air fills with the sleepy mutterings of "Why can't I have five more minutes?"
I tend to be a bit resistant to the jolts, as evidenced by the sudden scream of "ORIGINAL! Get up! You're going to be late again!" that's bellowed as my incubator top is forcibly thrown open, causing white wisps of fog to rise up where the warm air of my bed meets the cold air of the sleep chamber. Curling up I whine in protest, pulling the sheets back over my head.
"If you don't hurry up they're going to close the cafeteria without you again," the chamber-watcher admonishes, shaking her head at me so that her curly antennae swing slightly from side to side. That gets me going. Within moments I have my deep yellow uniform on and am pulling on my black boots as I run as fast as I possibly can towards the cafeteria, forgetting for a moment that I could have used my spider legs to get there faster.
There are still three Irkens in line when I get there. They're all wearing the deep emerald green uniforms of Organic Sweep Operations, or OSO as it's called. I don't know them, and they don't admit my existence. If the Irken at the front of the line weren't having trouble with his credit scan chip, I probably would have missed breakfast, and as I was too late to get any dinner last night, I might have wasted away before lunch.
Did you think all Irkens wore those red uniforms? I'm glad you're wrong about that, because I find that red color to be simply icky. Only invaders and high level soldiers wear that uniform. Obviously the tallest have their robes and security wears the black face shields and black metal exoskeleton suits. Irkens in training to become soldiers, or simply low level soldiers, wear deep blue uniforms accented in light blue. You can tell a military trainee by the yellow T badge they wear on their chests. Or course, once they've only got three tests left to becoming a soldier elite, they're allowed to wear the uniform of the elite, except that they wear pink instead of black pants.
Librarians, like myself, wear deep yellow. Historians, who work closely with us but are mainly male, where librarians are mainly female, wear almost the same color of yellow but it has more of an orange tint to it. OSOs wear green. Communications and level pulling operators, along with scientists, wear many colors, but they always wear lab coats with a face shield. Medical staff wears white and teachers wear purple uniforms. There are many other uniforms, but I don't know what they stand for. Strangely, the uniforms are not actually mandatory, just "highly suggested." Meaning, you don't have to wear them, but you're a freak if you don't. I think only about 1% of Irkens don't wear the, quote unquote "right" color, and about half of them don't wear the standard uniform or wear a modification of it.
Then there's the eye and antennae issue. The heterozygous gene combination results in red eyes, or some shade of red, which is why it's the most prominent color among our species. Purple eyes are caused by two recessive genes, and green eyes are caused by two dominant genes. How do I know that? I read it in a book. Sshh... don't tell, but it wasn't on the list of approved readings for librarians. Sometimes I... um... *borrow* things I'm not supposed to. Hey, it's not wrong if you don't get caught, right? But as I was saying, the purple eyed Irkens call themselves a minority and have minority pride meetings and are rather vocal about their eyes, making them also the largest group to buck the traditional uniform, choosing to wear purple instead. Green-eyed Irkens don't seem interested in setting themselves out as a separate group unless it gets them some sort of benefit.
It's my turn to pay. After the white coat wearing Irken scans my credit through, I go to pick out my meal. Unfortunately, those at the end of the line get what no one else wanted. I end up with a long piece of fruit that I found floating in the punch bowl, a dry muffin, and a drink so foul I wouldn't even feed it to a stray. I'm not talking about stray animals, I'm talking about Irkens who shun society and become beggars. I see them huddled on street corners, and sometimes I have to kick them out of the library. Why they would do that, I don't know. They're only bringing misery on themselves. Some people say they're genetic defects who didn't get caught and killed at hatching time.
My antennae are long and would be curly, like the other girl Irkens, but I was once on a transport ship that went off course and ended up lost in space. I nearly froze to death before the rescue team found us. It got so cold that my antennae split. I was never able to fix the problem. Now, I have my single long curl on each side, with smaller ringlet curls coming off of it. Some Irkens like long antennae, some Irkens like short. Some even have surgery or wear uncomfortable extensions to change the look of theirs. Some like to style them, others like them to be very straight, and still others just let them go naturally.
I have to basically simply throw my food down by throat and hope I don't choke, then run to the library. I work in the central library in the largest city on Irk, Capitalia. I'm not in any danger of being late anymore, but I have to get back and put the book in my pod back in the restricted sections. I've had it in my pod for two days now since every time I'm about to return it, someone turns the corner. I could get in big trouble for taking books from the restricted section. I could even be forced to serve time on Foodcourtia. Serve time, get it? Hee hee. I'm very funny.
The central library stands seventeen floors tall and four floors wide. On Irk, we don't just build up, we build out. We've been asking the tallests for a grant to make it larger for the last two years, but we're on the bottom of their priority list now that Operation Impending Doom Two is in full swing. Things are better than before, though. Our previous tallest was all-military, at least this time we have some sympathy coming from Tallest Purple. The building is a huge, tan building with a textured outside that feels like sand if you rub your claw over it. The carved marble staircase is supposed to resemble rocks, but I don't see it.
The hallway inside is ten tallests high, stretching so far over my head that the one time I tried to study the beautiful paintings on it, the weight of my tilted back head threw me off balance and I landed flat on the ground. The paintings on the ceiling depict our Gods giving life to the first Irken. The sidewalls feature far larger than life carved sculptures of our past tallests, with the noticeable exceptions of the ones we'd rather forget.
Just inside the main forum is a display on our current tallests. Robes donated by them are displayed in shining glass cases, for Irkens to come and see. A video displays their "past," but I've learned from reading biographies of the tallests that such things tend to be embellished, to say the least. I take the stairs up to my floor two at a time, using my spider legs to hurry my ascent.
After finally getting the book back, I run to my taskmaster. She's taller than me, with elongated eyes that always seem to be shining in misery. She hands me a pile of books and a list. I put the pile back on the shelves, and then I bring her the books on the list. That's my job, day in and day out, and I love it. I couldn't be happier even if they made me tallest. Sure, I don't have much money, but why do I really need it? It's not like I have anything to spend it on, since I can get all the books I need for free from the library. That's a good thing, since I simply eat right through them, like a hungry slaughtering rat creature devouring a small organism. They're extinct now, but I read about them in a book once.
Our books don't look like your books. You'd probably call them disks. In a highly technological society like ours, did you really think we'd still be using paper? Now you're the one that's being funny.
I'm busily stocking something between Ezorat and Ersta on the shelves when an announcement comes over the PA system. "All librarians, please halt what you are doing and report to center dispatch. Repeat, all librarians please halt what you are doing and report to center dispatch," the melodic female voice intoned, drawing us from our work to the center like ants to a picnic, as you would say.
The head librarian and historian taskmaster, a tall green-eye with antennae as straight as rulers, addresses us like we were pets or children. "Now, listen carefully to me," he says slowly, his cruel eyes inspecting and picking us apart as he paces the platform. If there's one thing I won't accuse Irkens of, it's being overly kind. "As you remember, a librarian on the Massive, the great and powerful mothership of the Irken armada, was accidentally blown out of an airlock. It was decided that the replacement would come from this library. I asked you all to fill out forms indicating why you should be chosen to go onto the Massive. We have picked out the winner."
I remember that competition. I didn't enter. I don't want to be on the front lines of war. I'm happy on Irk. I have my friends, I have my health, I know where everything that I like and need is. Why should I want to have to learn it all over again, while risking my life in a war at the same time?
"The winner," the head librarian drones on. "Is Original 773."
I stand there, until Terr pokes me in the ribs. "That's you," she whispers.