It was one afternoon when he'd become particularly exasperated by his minions' stupidity that Zurg had the idea. It seemed so obvious that he couldn't believe he hadn't thought of it before.
He needed an equal. Someone smarter than his Grubs, someone more reliable than his Brainpods—someone he could actually trust with important responsibilities. Being an evil ruler was fun, but it was a lot of work. He needed a helping hand.
The one hurdle was finding such a person, because you just couldn't get good help these days. It wasn't the sort of thing you could simply advertise for in the classifieds. Even once you'd found a potential candidate, it might take years for you to be sure you could trust them completely with your empire. No, he had to find a way to cut through all that bother, and the solution finally presented itself in his mind.
He would clone himself.
Th prospect filled him with delight. At last, a worthy partner to aid him in his evil pursuits! Who else would do but himself? It would be the perfect match!
When he sprung the notion on his staff, however, they were less enthused by it. The Brainpods argued that while growing the clone might be easy enough, there was no way to transfer all Zurg's thoughts and memories into it. The Grubs just stood in a corner, muttering nervously to themselves, probably afraid that two Zurgs would mean twice the abuse. Zurg would not be dissuaded, however.
"You'll figure something out!" he told the Brain Pods. "You know what the consequences will be if you don't."
"But sir," one of the bolder Pods sighed, "it may take months. Years! Complete neural duplication isn't something that can just happen with the flick of a switch."
"You have one week," Zurg insisted.
The Pod groaned. "It can't be done."
Zurg leaned over the pathetic creature menacingly, his eyes flashing bright red. "Did I hear you say can't to your emperor?!"
"W-w-what I meant was..." the Pod coughed, and then seemed to brighten as a new thought occurred to it. "What I meant was, do you think it should be done, my evil emperor?"
"Of course it should! I can't rely on you useless ninnies for anything important, can I? I need a superior assistant, and there's no one more superior than me!"
"That's just it, sir," said the Brain Pod. "Do you think this clone, if given your thoughts, would be content as a mere assistant? You know how these things work... Give it a few days, and soon your duplicate would be trying to usurp your power! Before you know it, you'll be scrubbing air ducts in the basement while the clone sits in your throne eating popcorn shrimp out of your favourite bowl!"
Zurg frowned. He hated to admit it, but the Pod had a point. If he were the clone, would he be willing to humbly serve someone else, even if that someone was him? Of course not. He sighed. "Oh, very well. Clones are out!"
His staff breathed a collective sigh of relief.
"But I still need someone to assist me," Zurg continued. He tapped his mouth thoughtfully. "A robot, perhaps? Do you think you could construct something a bit more intelligent than the Hornets?"
"Possibly, but robots aren't always entirely reliable either," said the Brain Pod. "They malfunction, they can be hacked, they need constant maintenance... Seems too risky to me."
"Well, what then?" Zurg demanded.
It was a Grub which finally spoke up. "What about a child?"
"If you had a child, it would probably be loyal to you and reliable, wouldn't it?"
Zurg recoiled, scrunching up his face. "Excuse me, are you suggesting I... I produce some sort of... offspring?"
"Yeah," the Grub nodded.
"That's the most revolting thing I've ever heard!"
The Grub shook its head quickly. "It doesn't have to be a normal child. You could do it the same way you were going to make the clone!" it said. "You grow it from your own DNA, so it has all your best qualities, but you don't give it your memories or personality... and maybe you could mix in some extra DNA, just to be sure it doesn't end up exactly like you. It'll be close enough, but not too close!"
"Hmm." Zurg was appeased, and began to consider the idea. He wasn't completely thrilled by it, but it looked like his best option. "Fine," he decided at last. "We'll do it. Brain Pods, you have DNA on file from various species, don't you? Find all the best genetic traits from that DNA and splice it together with my own. I'll create the perfect assistant—and heir—for my empire!"
And so the process began. One of the Grubs took a blood sample from Zurg (the emperor insisted afterwards that he didn't shriek when the needle pricked his arm, and the Grub was forced to support his story even though it knew better), and the Brain Pods prepared an incubation tube for the child to grow in. The DNA was blended together, and at last it was placed inside the tube where it could grow.
Zurg stood before the tube, gazing at the green life support fluid bubbling inside it. "Well?" he asked.
"Well what?" returned a Brain Pod.
"How much longer?"
The Pod coughed. "Er, it's only been five minutes, my evil emperor."
Zurg sniffed haughtily and folded his arms.
"If you leave it overnight, you should see some significant progress in the morning," assured the Pod.
Zurg reluctantly took his lackey's advice and left the lab, but he couldn't shake the impatient urge to see this new creation of his. He still wasn't sure he liked the idea of calling it his child, even if that was technically true, but as an experiment it had great potential. He would let it mature at an accelerated rate inside the tank, until it was old enough to begin training as his new second-in-command. Then the fun would really begin! He already had several outfit designs in mind. Nothing quite as fabulous as his own attire, of course, but similar. Something in purple, definitely—they had to match.
Oh, this will be glorious, he thought as he retired to his room. Together we will be a force that will bring this whole galaxy to its knees!
The next morning, he got up bright and early and rushed down to the labs. He encountered a throng of minions around the incubation tube, and tried to shove past them to get his first proper look at the child. To his surprise and irritation, the Grubs and Brain Pods seemed unwilling to make way for him. There was a distinctly troubled undercurrent flowing through the room. "Let me see, let me see!" Zurg insisted.
"Er, my emperor, are you sure that's wise?" a Brain Pod gulped. "The child is still at an early stage of development, and we all know how much you dislike babies..."
"Out of my way!" Zurg smacked it aside. "It's in a tank, so it's not going to be dribbling regurgitated food out its mouth or screaming its head off, now is it? I'm sure I can handle it. Now let me have a look!"
When he finally got through to the incubation tube, however, he stopped dead. There it was, the child—his child—floating in the green fluid. Except it wasn't his child. It couldn't be. He spun around. "What is the meaning of this?!"
His lackeys cowered away from his hot glare. "Sir," one of Pods managed to answer, "there seems to have been a slight... miscalculation..."
"Miscalculation?" Zurg turned back to the tank. The child continued to float serenely within, unconscious of the spectators it had acquired. It was a perfectly normal child in every respect—a large, healthy, some might even say cute creature that many a parent would've been proud to call their own. There was only one thing wrong.
It looked human.
Skin that should have been purple was instead a light pink. A fine covering of hair topped a head that should have been bare. Ordinary, chubby little fingers were curled into tiny fists, entirely lacking anything one might call claws. The eyes were closed, but Zurg was certain that if they opened they would be some boring colour like blue or brown.
This couldn't possibly be his child.
"What did you get wrong this time, you pathetic, incompetent lackwits?" he demanded.
"We, er... may have gotten the ratio wrong in the DNA mix," a Brain Pod answered, cringing.
"Or perhaps we miscalculated which genetic traits would be dominant," whimpered another.
"WELL WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO FIX IT?"
The minions exchanged glances. "F-fix it?" gulped one. "Sir, there's nothing we can do, except start over."
Zurg glared at them and then turned back to the tank. "And what makes you think you'd get it right the second time?" he growled, studying the hideous creature growing within.
There was silence.
"Just like I thought!" He threw his arms up helplessly. "You useless, pea-brained, moronic wastes of oxygen! This whole project has been a failure!"
"It's... it's possible the child will develop some of your traits as it matures..." a Brain Pod offered without much conviction.
Zurg shook his head. "I don't care! I'm pulling the plug—get that thing out of that tank!"
"And then what?"
"I don't know, blast it into the nearest sun for all I care!" Zurg was about to march out, but he paused to look at the child one last time. It was still unconscious, but it kept twitching, as if in the middle of a dream. There was an innocence reflected in its face that Zurg knew it definitely hadn't gotten from him. He stared at it, finding his attention strangely fixed on the creature. Though it looked nothing like him, this was still his child, and he couldn't shake the sense of fascination that thought instilled in him. There was something... almost endearing about the infant. Even the oversized chin lent it a certain charm.
"On second thought," said Zurg slowly, "have one of our agents slip it onto the nearest inhabited world in Alliance Space—someone there can take it in if they want it. No point in completely disposing of it after I wasted all this research money on it."
He marched out, vowing this would be the one and only time he ever allowed sentiment to make a decision for him. There couldn't be any harm in it just this once, could there?
"Hey Buzz, Commander Nebula's wants you to report in for a debriefing ASAP," came Mira's voice over the wrist comm.
"I'll be right there, Ranger, just got to change." Buzz closed the comm and headed to the locker room. The expedition they'd taken through the sewers of Trade World that day to track down a smuggling operation hadn't been one of their more enjoyable missions, and Buzz was keen to get rid of the grime and the smell.
The locker room was empty when he entered. He sat down on a bench and began to pull off his Star Command battle armour. Once that was off, he unzipped the thermal undersuit and peeled it away too. His hands paused when they reached the hood covering his head. Even in private, he always felt hesitant to remove it.
He'd worn it all his life, even long before he became a Space Ranger and actually needed it. The only pictures of himself he had where he wasn't wearing it were his baby photos. He doubted any of his friends, including his own team, had ever seen him without it. Only Commander Nebula and the LGMs knew what he looked like underneath.
And Nana, of course. It had been her idea. She'd said she didn't want the other children to make fun of him. They already teased him simply because he was adopted—if they knew the full truth, they'd never let him hear the end of it. Over time, Buzz had grown so used to wearing the hood that it had become almost a part of him, like a second skin. He never felt comfortable without it, even though he knew the friends he had now would accept him.
He simply didn't want people to know he was different. He didn't want to have to answer questions he himself didn't know the answer to. His background was a mystery, and he was happy to keep it that way.
With one final tug, the hood slipped over his head, and Buzz made his way to his locker where he kept his spare suit. As he passed a mirror, he paused to survey his reflection. Even without the hood, he looked much the same as he always did, except for the overhead lighting glistening brightly off his closely-shaved blue hair instead of off purple fabric...
...and the two tiny lumps poking through on either side, just above his ears. He reached up and ran his hands over them, feeling the short, stubby tips that protruded almost like horns. He wondered if he'd ever know where they came from. Buzz shrugged and grabbed a new hood from his locker, pulling it over his head to hide them.
A/N: I admit, I've never subscribed to the Zurg-is-Buzz's-father theory, but I thought it would be fun to give it a spin, and even more fun if I could do it with alien!Zurg (just how alien he is in this story is up to you - beyond the horns and purple skin, it's pretty vague). My friend blueglows has long had the hilarious idea of Buzz being Zurg's son but him being the weird, horribly mutated one rather than Zurg, so that's where I drew my inspiration from.
Hope you enjoyed!