Somewhere on the east coast, wedged between the small gap of two apartment buildings was a vibrant green and purple house. In the night, it practically glowed in an unearthly manner. During the day it just looked strange.
Underneath that house, was a secret base that tunneled underground far more elaborately than any man made machine has ever accomplished.
On an enemy planet, far from his home or any of his own kind, Irken Alien Invader Zim sat deep in the labyrinth of tunnels that made up his base. Given a secret, albeit difficult mission by his leaders, Zim loyally traveled the rough 6 month journey from his home world, Irk into the unknown.
The unknown turned out to be Planet Earth.
As luck would have it, the inhabitants of his assigned planet happened to be sentient, making the mission a bit more difficult.
Not that it could ever be too difficult for Zim.
As a trained soldier of war, and a respected hero back on Irk, Zim was able to devise a disguise that would fool the Earth inhabitants, humans, into thinking he was one of their own. That, in addition to modifying his behavior to mimic that of a human, he was able to successfully blend in. Everyone thought he was another human worm baby.
Except for one, annoying human.
Dib, as he learned his name was, was not a normal human. For starters, his head was abnormally large. And he saw through Zim's perfect disguise instantly.
If not for the fact that Irken's thoughts are mostly formed in their paks rather than their actual brains, Zim might've come to the conclusion that Dib's abnormally large head had something to do with the size of his brain, thus affecting his intellect.
As it was, this was not the case.
Luckily, Zim may have found a solution to stop Dib from interfering with his plans for good.
The outline of the idea was solid, it just needed some tweaking.
Fully concentrated on developing his plan further, Zim continued to work in silence as he tapped commands into his computer.
Deep in the tunnels of his base, the low buzz of high voltage machinery was his only companion.
A loud metal crash followed by excited laughing broke the silence.
Zim turned from the computer touch screen, natural magenta eyes narrowed in annoyance.
"Gir!" He barked, "I told you to go watch TV or something. Your amazing master is busy!"
Robotic, cyan eyes shone from behind one of the many tubes and wires that made up the tunnels of Zim's base.
Zim's "very own robot slave", as he had once described him, had turned out to be much less helpful and far more difficult than he had anticipated. Trying to get him to obey an order was like pulling teeth.
Gir giggled and came forward once he was addressed. The robot smiled, blissfully unaware of his master's annoyance, and waved cheerfully.
"Hi! What'cha doing?"
Zim sighed, "I'm working on a plan to stop Dib from interfering with my plans." he stated simply.
Then questioned, "Why are you here?"
Gir squealed excitedly, "I wanna go for a walk!"
"Did you not hear anything I just said?" Zim pointed at the computer screen, "I'm working!" He waved a hand at him in a shoo fashion, "Now go away."
Zim turned back to the computer and began typing once again.
He paused from typing when he felt a familiar weight on his head.
He growled, "Get off my head, Gir."
Gir obediently climbed off.
Zim began to type again.
The weight returned.
This time, Zim continued typing, but used a pak leg to pick Gir (who was now laughing like this was the best game ever) from his head and set him down a couple feet away.
No sooner than his pak leg had returned did the weight on his head as well.
Giving up, Zim clicked a button to save his progress on his plan and began to walk to the elevator to the house level of the base, with Gir still firmly attached to his head.
Magenta eyes now concealed by a fake blue, and antenna now hidden under a dark wig, Zim was ready to leave the base.
He picked up the leash attached to the collar on Gir's green dog costume and followed his robot companion as he dragged him out into the world.
The sudden brightness caused by the giant star Earth orbited, "the sun" Zim's memory offered, made it so he had to squint his eyes to prevent being blinded.
Gir, being a robot, was unaffected by the sun's UV rays and consequently was exempt from such discomfort.
It was what humans referred to as a "weekend", and so Zim was not expected to go to skool during this time. It had been a few months since he'd first arrived on Earth, and it had been weeks since he'd stopped trying to go to skool on weekends, something that greatly amused Dib. Typically, he spends weekends developing plans for world conquest, or, as he had been prior to Gir's interruption, planning to destroy Dib.
Gir turned a corner sharply and caused a still half-blind Zim to run into a pedestrian.
The pedestrian, a man carrying a freshly spilled cup of coffee and sporting a coffee-soaked business suit, irately shouted in a thick eastern accent, "Watch where yous going ya dumb kid!"
Zim was quick to retaliate.
"Fool!" He snapped, pulling Gir back from dragging him past before he could yell at the man. "You should feel honored to be in the presence of the mighty Zim! This may be the most important moment of your entire pathetic life!"
The man made a "tch" noise and left, muttering something incoherent about weirdos. Gir tugged on the leash and they continued on their walk. Zim glared hostilely at each passerby henceforth.
Human. Just the word itself reeked of uselessness and inferiority. The armada would have no use for such insolent creatures, not even as slaves for the most humiliating remedial work. If they were so dim that they couldn't recognize superiority when it literally walked into them, what hope did they have for redemption in the eyes of their soon-to-be superior leaders? Yes, they were better off to be wiped out completely and their tiny planet remodeled for something else.
Oblivious to his master's silent contemplations, Gir continued to enjoy his walk, "like a normal Earth-pet" as Zim had once described. Suddenly, the robot's short attention-span was grabbed by the allure of a nearby park. Gir stopped in his tracks and stared briefly in wonder before abruptly pulling the leash from Zim's hand and darting across the street to the park.
"Gir!" He yelled, "Get back here!" Only to watch the little green dog continue off in the opposite direction, leash trailing behind him.
The Irken went to follow him, but was forced back onto the sidewalk by a sudden onslaught of traffic. He looked around in search of an alternate route, only to find a busy crosswalk a few hundred yards away.
Zim reluctantly headed over to wait on the light to change, preparing to be surrounded by the smelly humans.
Once Zim made it to the park, he was beginning to regret giving into Gir's persistent begging. This ordeal was proving to be more trouble than it was worth. He scanned the area for any sign of his runaway robot. He didn't have to look for long, because right on the side of a small crowd of humans was Gir in his dog suit.
Zim paid no mind to what they were looking at, instead he grabbed Gir's leash and started to drag him away. "Walk's over, Gir! We're going home!"
Gir shook his head, small fabric ears on his costume flapping as he did so, and said, "I was watchin' the wormies!"
Not comprehending, Zim waved a hand dismissively, "yes, yes," he replied, "we see the human worm babies all the time; they're nothing special."
"No, silly," the small robot corrected, "those wormies!" pointing in between a couple of people in the crowd.
Zim curiously made his way into the crowd along with his companion.
In the middle of the crowd was a silky nest full of small wriggling insects.
Zim pulled back in disgust.
"Eck! What is that horrible thing?" He questioned to Gir. However, one of lady in the crowd heard him and answered.
"It's a nest of silkworms," she said, "We think it got knocked out of the tree during the storm last night."
"There was a storm last night?" Zim wanted to ask. He must have been in his lab longer than he thought. He watched in confusion as a couple members of the crowd carefully picked up the branches attached to the nest. They carried it slowly over to another tree and set it there.
The small crowed clapped and cheered. Except for Zim.
"Why did you do that?" He asked one of the people, a teenage boy who'd carried the nest to a new tree. "Do these "silkworms" provide you with anything substantial in return for your help?"
The teenager shrugged, "Like, they make silk and stuff but it's just the right thing to do, I guess."
This information meant nothing to Zim, who hadn't the faintest clue what silk was. Instead, he focused on the second part of the boy's sentence.
"Right thing? How would you determine what the "right thing" is?"
The teenager sighed, as though the conversation itself was a draining endeavor. "Uh, I guess the right thing helps other things. I dunno man, it's just human nature I think."
Before Zim could question him further, the teen left. And the alien was left alone with Gir in the park.
The average Irken would observe a scene like this and scoff at the notion of having compassion for another creature, especially when that creature provided no benefit to him. The very notion of it was absurd.
Zim was far from average.
Instead, he had a difficult time understanding what happened and why. For some reason, be it a defect in his pak programming or his own curiousity, he couldn't accept "humans are inferior" as an answer to why they would bother to help something that had no benefit to them whatsoever. He looked up at the nest of silkworms hanging in the tree and studied them.
The worms were small, working in an intricately designed web, each doing their part to contribute to the greater purpose of building the nest.
He turned around and looked at the city, realizing he could find similar qualities among humans themselves.
Finally, with a foreign pang of homesickness, he linked those same qualities to his own race, and the Irken Empire.
Gir tugged on the leash, now that all the commotion was over he was bored. He wanted to go back to the base and make waffles!
Zim let himself be dragged down the sidewalk once again, unsure of what to make of his realization.