The Human Kribliss
Rating : PG-13 for the moment. May go up.
Warnings : Slash, Xenophilia, Swearing, Original characters
Author note: I know the resume doesn't say a lot, so hang on to your antennas, this is no mere one-shot. This WILL be slash, but I'm not one to rush things up to please the readers. I want this to be realistic. I know ZADR by definition will never be in character, but that doesn't mean I can't try. There will be original characters, but they are useful to the plot. Some of this will probably ring a bell (every other ZADR fic, yeah) but there are things that need to get out of the way before getting anything done.
Please note that English is not my first language. I do have a beta reader –the schmexy and wonderful Miyukyo- but if we missed some things, don't be shy and send me a note.
Disclaimer: Invader Zim and all his characters belong to Jhonen Vasquez. The Squeaky crew is mine, but I doubt anyone would want them. You can keep Kinn.
Chapter one- A matter of height
"They're your leaders just because they're taller than anybody else?" -Dib
The Massive's dock was full of Irkens running left and right, monitoring, piloting, cleaning, and generally obeying every single order from their almighty Tallests. The two beloved towers of pure terror and power were currently lounging on one of the most comfortable couches of the universe, courtesy of Invader Larb, and eating their way into a bag full of donuts (the sugar coated ones, of course). They were in a good mood and had been for a couple of days in fact, judging by the small number of service drones sent to planet Dirt for lousy servicing. Not counting the one who accidentally spilled irken cola on Tallest Red's robes. They were his favorites ones, after all. Spilling anything on a Tallest was a crime punishable by death, by Irken laws.
'…and then, his face!' snickered Purple once again. 'You should have seen his face!'
'I saw it,' corrected Red with raised antennae. 'I was there too.'
'I know that, but oh Irk, was it priceless! You could almost HEAR his broken squeedly-spooch falling to the floor!'
'Heh, good thing we had this recorded then,' grinned Red. 'It's always soothing to see Zim's broken hopes whenever I feel down.'
'Let's watch it again!' shouted Purple. 'Soldier, put it on the giant screen!'
Red lowered his antennae with a little sigh. They had seen the tape over a hundred times, but Purple never got tired of it. Well, neither did he, in fact. He smiled as Zim's face appeared on the screen but frowned when he saw how tall he had gotten. His increase of height, subtle over the years, was the only thing that kept Red from fully enjoying the show.
He turned to Purple, who was busy reciting every word and mimicking Zim's voice with a high pitched tone that had nothing to do with the wannabe invader's but was funny nonetheless. The first twenty times.
"…But, my Tallests, Zim was always a loyal member of the irken army…"
'Say, Pur,' interrupted Red going back to the screen. 'Don't you think Zim's getting a little too… tall?'
'Yeah…' trailed off Purple. 'I knew something had changed, but I thought it was that lousy planet's sun giving him an ugly complexion. That shade of green is just unhealthy.'
"…forget it, Zim. You're not coming back. Ever."
'Somebody get me his full measurements!' shouted Red in a worried voice.
'You really think that…?' started Purple.
'We can never be too sure,' growled Red.
"…Impeding Doom II wouldn't have been successful if you hadn't been exiled to that planet, far from any catastrophes you could have created here!"
A random irken drone stepped up to them with a screen depicting all of Zim's details. His picture could be seen, next to a series of numbers and irken letters.
'That's no good,' complained Purple 'this was taken before he got sent there! We need something more recent!'
Red started scrolling down, opening and closing a few windows until he found what he was looking for.
'Here!' he said. 'Last order of an Irken uniform at Callnowa, a couple of months ago. Height measurement, a hundred and thirty six Ligas tall…'
A deadly silence followed. All that could be heard on the bridge was Zim's voice, pleading to get another chance.
"…I'll invade this filthy planet in no time! You'll see, my Tallests! My latest plan is totally fail proof and even better, Dib-proof! Nothing can go wrong, you'll see! I…"
'And this was my favorite part,' whined Purple, but he couldn't find any amusement in Zim's desperate pleas.
Inside, Red was growling. Their own height was of a hundred and fifty four irken Ligas. If Zim didn't stop growing up, he could become a threat to their leadership, incompetent or not. Irken politics were not based on intelligence, after all. Not a single politic system in the universe was based on that. It would be against nature's order and impossible to achieve.
"…it's no use, Zim. We don't care about that ball of dirt. Too much water, it makes it impossible to even transform it into a parking lot. Forget it."
"But, my Tallest…"
'My Tallests?' asked a crewmember with a slight hesitation.
'It better be important!' snapped Red.
'It's an incoming transmission from the Squeaky, sirs.'
'Work, work, work,' sighed Purple. 'Put it on the screen.'
A saluting red-eyed female Irken replaced Zim's defeated face.
'My Tallests,' she greeted with a slight bow of her antennae. 'Captain Taty reporting from the Squeaky.'
'Oh, did you guys explode?' asked Purple with eagerness.
'…not yet, my Tallest,' answered the Captain with a slight hesitation. 'Shall that ever happen, you'll be the first one to know.'
'Report then,' ordered Red with a vague wave of his hand.
He didn't pay much attention to the boring report of the explorer ship. It was the same thing over and over: new planet, with or without alien life forms, if yes were they better a) as slaves, b) as allies or c) as corpses? He let Purple take care of it while he concentrated on a way to get rid of Zim. A hundred and thirty six Ligas was a real menace, but he couldn't do anything directly. The Control Brains severely judged any Tallest-killing competition. But there were ways around that… And it wouldn't be the first time they used them.
'So, how tall is he, now?' was asking Purple.
Red thought he was asking about Zim, but the question was directed to the screen.
'…Diplomat Blo is a hundred and forty-two Ligas, my Lord' answered Taty with a touch of uneasiness.
'Not good' muttered Purple. 'Make sure he goes down with the exploring crew when you'll land on a new planet. And choose a dangerous one.'
'…Yes, my Tallest.'
Red smirked. One of their favorite ways of disposing threats was to embark them on ships with highly dangerous missions. It generally worked and they hadn't got any trouble from the Control Brains. But the diplomat on the Squeaky had yet to meet his doom, or at least get his legs severed off. Well, one could only wait and cross their antennae.
'Where are you guys going, now?' asked Purple.
'We are near the end of the Western spiral arm of this galaxy, and my scientist reported a cluster of planets around a medium-sized star that sounds promising.'
The image of a stellar system replaced her serious face. Planets marked 1, 5, 6, 7,8 and 9 were crossed.
'These planets were rejected for being made of either gas or ice, and of course the first and last ones were too close or too distant to the star. We'll check the three remaining ones,' said Taty, her face back on the screen.
'Does any of these planets have life on them?' asked Red, getting impatient.
'The third one. We don't know if it's intelligent yet.'
'Go there, then. And if it's dangerous, make sure to take the diplomat with you.'
'…Yes, my Tallest. We should reach planet …' she squinted at a screen next to her, hesitated. 'Planet E-art. Is that how you pronounce it?' she muttered to someone off screen.
'E-art?' asked Purple. 'Cute name.'
'I thought so too, my Tallest. We should reach it within a week or so. We'll report from there.'
'I want to know if it's full of deadly biting carnivorous giant petunias!' shouted Purple.
'Captain Taty, signing off.'
The screen went back to show Zim's broken expression, but it didn't make Red smile like he usually did.
'E-art?' he said out loud. 'Where was that again?'
An image of the planet appeared on the screen, coordinates next to it. Brownish continents and an awful lot of water.
'Idiots' muttered Red. 'It's not E-art, it's Earth! Zim's planet!'
'How come?' asked Purple. 'They're supposed to look for planets not present on the database. The ones assigned to Invaders were all included!'
'But Zim was never an Invader and NO ONE GOT AROUND TO ADD EARTH TO THE DATABASE IN ALL THESE YEARS!' yelled a furious Red.
The crew recoiled in terror and several members started to add Earth's coordinates at the same time.
'With a little luck they'll land in one of those puddles,' said Purple, pointing to the Pacific Ocean, 'and burn. And then, no more atrociously tall diplomat to be afraid of!'
Red frowned. Luck was never on their side when Zim was included in the equation. The stupid ex-wannabe Invader could find a way to bring destruction to anything.
A malicious grin split his face. He suddenly had a brilliant idea.
'Say, Pur?' he muttered. 'How about getting rid of two annoyances with the same laser and send our friend Zim a… gift?'
Purple had no idea what was on Red's mind, but seeing the devious smile on his co-ruler's face he knew he would love it.
Dib was out of the Hi Skool building before the bell stopped ringing. He didn't wait for Gaz as he usually did, but his sister would be glad seeing less of him. His pace was quick, almost impatient, and his backpack was heavy with books he didn't bother putting away in his locker. He'd waited all day and even now, was finding the walk too long for his liking. He started to jog, then broke into a full run, his scythe-lock and trench coat floating behind him.
Dib hadn't changed much in the last six years. He got ridiculously tall and gangly, as only human teenage boys could get. He still wore his dorky glasses, his weird hairdo and his trench coat. Well, it wasn't exactly the same, but it was of the same model, only with more buckles and inside pockets to better carry his ninja gear whenever he went on a mission. Which could happen from five to six times a week.
Except this week. And that's why he was running full speed towards a neon green house.
Zim hadn't come to school in the last three days.
The first one went unnoticed, almost, because Zim missed school once in a while to repair his messes, receive a call from his leaders or just to stop GIR from doing stupid and dangerous stuff. The second day aroused Dib's suspicion. In two days, you had time to plan and plot something of relative importance. He went to spy at night but saw nothing from the windows, except GIR sitting on the couch, captivated by some stupid television add for vacuums. But now, it was a full three days and not a sight of the Invader. Dib couldn't wait anymore; his paranoia was eating him and kept him from sleep for the past two nights, quite visible by the shadows under his eyes. But he was all right, the sheer amount of coffee in his veins kept him awake, thanks to Membrane's Caffeine Patch Espresso version™.
Three days was the implicit agreement.
If either of them failed to appear for a whole three days, the other has full rights to walk to the front door and demand answers. Of course, they never agreed to it, they never even spoke of it, but this unstated rule appeared early during their ongoing war. Worry had nothing to do with it, it was more the paranoia of seeing the other one doomed by anybody else outside their rivalry. Not any trials, fry-cooks, crazy houses for boys or summer camp would interfere with their fight.
That's why Thursday evening found Dib walking up to Zim's door, not even noticing the gnomes glowing eyes on him. He was trembling with paranoia, impatience and artificial caffeinated energy. He started pounding on the door.
'ZIM! I know you're there! Come out and face me, alien scum!'
After a full five minutes of pounding and name calling, the door slowly opened. But instead of Zim, it was GIR in his dog costume, looking at him with huge demented eyes.
'HIIIIIII BIIG-HEAD BOY!!' he screeched.
'Where's Zim?' demanded Dib, so impatient that he let the comment on his head slide.
'I think he's riding a pony over a rainbow!' exclaimed GIR with enthusiasm.
'…You haven't seen him either, haven't you?' asked Dib.
'Noooooooooooooo,' moaned GIR. 'Mastah said "GIR! I have to phone the tall ones, go watch the Scary Monkey Show!" So I diiiiiiiid. It was fun!"
Dib frowned. Zim called his leaders? That was never good news.
'When was that?'
'Huh… I don't knoooooooow…'
'Okay then,' sighed Dib, 'how many Scary Monkey Shows did you watch since he disappeared?'
'SIX!' screamed GIR with delight.
Dib knew that it showed twice a day, it was easy math. But if GIR had watched them all, it meant that Zim didn't have any use for the robot lately. That was strange; he brought the little defect on almost all of his missions. He even religiously walked his "dog" everyday to appear normal to the neighbors. Even if said neighbors were used to horrific yelling, epic proportioned battles, laser-shooting gnomes, girl scouts falling down deadly holes and spaceships crashing on his front lawn.
'Is he still down there?' asked Dib.
'Maaaaaaaaaybe,' said GIR.
'Look, can I enter? I'll go check myself.' Said Dib with an impatient tone.
He realized it was a bad idea when he saw GIR's eyes turn red.
'No intruder shall disturb the master' he said in a cold, robotic voice.
'But, but… I just wanted to… bring him his homework!' he lied, hoping GIR would return to his normal, dysfunctional self soon.
Too late. A gnome fired a warning shot, centimeters from his head. He knew the next one would aim directly at him. Nothing vital, but he knew Zim never had a full grasp of human's vital organs. He ran-stepped-jumped in a well-practiced ballet that always ended with him landing face first on the sidewalk. The gnomes stood in line, eyes still red, watching him.
Deep down in the labs, another pair of bloody magenta eyes was watching Dib, through the surveillance cameras. Hunched on his chair, bony knees held against his chest with tired arms, lowered antennas and empty expression, Zim saw the human get up, dust himself and turn back towards the house.
'You won't get away with this, Zim!' he yelled.
'Foolish human,' muttered the alien. 'There is nothing to get away with.'
By Irk, was it three days already? The human was nothing but punctual in his paranoia. It was the only way Zim had of calculating time since his self appointed isolation. Without any news from the outside, any word from his computer, any window or any need to sleep, he stopped counting the minutes a long time ago. He remembered yelling a lot. Trashing his laboratory with his spider legs, then with his bare claws. He lowered his eyes and saw the gloveless hands covered in pale green scars. They were almost healed already. He remembered moaning and complaining a lot, but he'd rather forget about this pathetic phase. He remembered hours in front of the screen, trying to communicate with the Massive, hoping everything was a joke, a misunderstanding. He remembered his pak sending him into recuperation mode after he tried to hurt himself. The rest was blurry.
And then he remembered sitting in front of the screen for hours, waiting for something he never knew he wanted to see, until it came. The scythe-lock, poor imitation of irken antennas, and the despicable trench coat, and then the ugly face behind uglier glasses… It brought a wave of relief over the alien's tense body. Normality was always welcome, even in the form of his enemy.
The human was in his right to demand information, that's why he let GIR answer in his usual evasive style. But when the Dib asked to come down, he had to activate the gnomes. Being seen in this sorry state, by his rival no less, was not an option.
Dib was warily watching the gnomes. He put a foot on the front walk again, but almost lost it to a rapid laser show. Part of his boot started smoking. Zim couldn't help but chuckle at his loud yell of pain.
He stared at the retreating human, surprised at his own amusement. It was the first time, since that horrible call, that he managed to feel anything but pure dookie inside his squeedly-spooch. Amusement at the Dib. Normalcy, the only thing he had left.
Irk be damned, he wouldn't let anyone, not even the Tallest, take this scrap of normalcy away from him. Tomorrow, he'd go back to Hi Skool.
AN: That's it for now. I know the Tallest-abandonning-Zim has been overly done, but I think it's the only thing harsh enough to make Zim not invade Earth. And that's the only way I see him being civil to Dib, wich leads us to... better things winkwinknudgenudge