The Irken and the Eggplants
"Curse this filthy Vortian technology!" Zim slammed the tiny chip against a building. "Work again or feel the WRATH OF ZIM!"
He'd been walking along the street, itching to test if his repairs to his translation device had been successful. At first the street signs made sense to him again, but soon they fuzzed back into the misinformation the virus had programmed into it.
Every Irken had a translating device. Without it, they would be unable to communicate with any other species. It was a necessary tool for any invader, or in Zim's case, any Irken who mistakenly believed he was an invader.
Translating devices were notoriously difficult to program, which was why the Irkens had enslaved Vortians do all the work for them. The Vortian scientists assigned this project decided to play a rather amusing prank on their Irken captors. A programmed virus occasionally occurs which translates everything into profanity, certain anatomy, crude expressions, and the like. Hence why Irkens considered Vortians 'filthy.'
Today Zim's device had become inflicted with this strange malfunction. Luckily it was only written text, not spoken words. Nevertheless, his whole day he was inundated with profanity everywhere he looked: street signs, advertisements, his textbooks, and Ms. Bitters' chalkboard.
He tinkered with the small chip, normally tucked safely away in his PAK. It was temporarily fixed, but now as he walked the street, it was returning to its old ways. For some reason Zim thought slamming it against a building repeatedly would help. He jammed it back into his PAK and continued walking, GIR trailing his heels.
The Irken looked up at another sign, this one on a building. "Dog… nuts?"
No, this wasn't any Vortian's doing. Zim had simply mispronounced the word, 'doughnuts' out of ignorance.
GIR squealed in delight, raced in, and was back outside clutching a bag before the Irken could scold him.
"GIR! What kind of horrible filth are you putting in your mouth?!"
"Doughnut holes!" GIR shoved his head inside the bag and chomped loudly. Slobber and a few of the pastries were slung to the ground during his feeding frenzy.
"Foolish humans! Those are not holes!"
Zim continued his walk, testing the chip. "Let's see…" he said, looking around for more signs. "Post office, MacMeatie's, Puppy Store…"
"POST OFFICE?!" GIR ripped the doughnut bag in half, his eyes wild. "WHAAA!"
"No, GIR," said Zim. "No post office. You remember last time… you can't be trusted with letter openers."
GIR threw a tantrum like a toddler. He kicked, screamed, and wailed. So Zim did what any good parent with a misbehaving child would do: he tugged harder on the leash, dragging him down the sidewalk.
"I'm ignoring you, GIR." Zim glared directly ahead, hoping no one on the street would notice a 'dog' crying like a child. "Bloaty's Pizza Hog, library, galvanization plant…" Zim continued to read.
"Hey, you can't have that thing out on the street!" said a man, casting a finger in GIR's direction. "Rabid animals are against city ordinances!"
Zim's antennae perked up. "Rabid?"
"Everyone knows rabid dogs turn green and scream like toddlers! Duh!" said the man as he put his hands on his hips. "If you don't take it back to the Puppy Store and get a refund, I'll have to call animal control!"
"Animal control?! Humans that control animals?!" Zim asked in shock. He crouched down and cocked an eyebrow. "If these humans can control even the MIGHTY MOOSE creature, who knows how much of a danger they are to my mission…"
The man watched him curiously. "Are you still talking to me?"
"BE GONE, STREET HUMAN!" Zim waved his hand for the man to leave, and strangely he did, albeit with a shrug. "GIR is too much of a risk… I need to exchange him for a much more normal slave." He should have given it more thought, but instead he blurted out, "MINIMOOSE!"
MiniMoose fell onto Zim's head. "Squeak!"
Zim shoved the creature off of him. "What were you doing up there?!"
"Been there the whole time?"
MiniMoose nodded. "Squeak."
"Huh. You do that a lot." Zim shook himself. "MiniMoose, you are now promoted to Minion-of-the-Day! CONGRATULATE YOURSELF!"
"Squeeeeeak!" he said, clapping his nubs together.
"TIME UP! Now… GIR…" Zim turned to the little robot behind him, still bawling. "GIR! GIR, listen to me!" He wrapped the leash around GIR's neck then pulled it tight, choking him into silence. "FINALLY! Now, return home before more humans see you and call the animal controllers."
GIR, still choking, shook his head.
"You dare disobey your master?!"
MiniMoose piped up, "Squeak!"
"Excellent idea, MiniMoose! But I am not going to acknowledge it was you who thought of it! ZIM IS THE MASTER OF IDEAS!"
MiniMoose frowned. "Squeak…"
"GIR, guess what!" said Zim. "You must return home quickly! Our base was suddenly turned into a post office! With piggies, and tacos, and… Irk, what other junk are you sickly obsessed with? … bleach, er—"
"HEE HEE HEE!" giggled GIR insanely, snapping the leash in two. With a grin wider than his face, he used the rockets in his feet and flew down the street. "I'm coming, weigh scales!" he called out gleefully.
"Glad my idea worked," said Zim, watching GIR's figure disappear in the distance.
"Squeak…" MiniMoose pouted.
"Silence! Your job is not to squeak all day! Your job is to make me look normal!" He smirked. "And should those animal controllers show up, they will have to face no ordinary moose this time… but a… MINIMOOSE!"
"Squeeeeeak…" said MiniMoose with an evil grin.
"Now back to my mission! Nothing's more normal than walking down the street and reading the signs out loud!" Zim said proudly. "Crazy Taco, Magic Shop, nursery…" He stopped. "NURSERY?!"
The store in question, the last on the street, was actually a plant nursery—but the gloomy outside did not reflect this.
"MiniMoose! Is this another translating malfunction of those horrible Vortians'?! Don't tell me this is actually true!"
MiniMoose hung his head. "Squeak…"
"I SAID DON'T!" Zim screeched, literally blowing the little moose away with his outburst. "I thought human babies came from space?! We need to investigate this… nursery… and find out the truth. The horrible, sick truth. Come, MiniMoose!"
MiniMoose dazedly floated back to Zim's side, still recovering from Zim's forceful scream. He followed a cautious Zim into the building.
When Zim entered the nursery, the first thing he did was recoil and choke. So many flowers in one place had caused an allergic reaction in the Irken, filling his throat with mucous. He pounded his chest and swallowed. His tongue hanging out of his mouth, he panted heavily, trying to catch his breath.
And in doing so, he got a whiff of the air. The smell made him wretch in disgust. "UGH! What is that horrible stench?!"
"They're flowers!" said a woman who was way too perky.
"Flowers? What on Irk would—" He froze when he saw the watering pail in her hand. The woman walked away as Zim began to talk to himself. "The humans must be keeping something important in here if they have guards with deadly watering pails, and 'flowers' with a stench so vile it nearly turned my squeedly splooch!"
Zim continued exploring the nursery, his eyes darting around. He looked at the names of the different plants and wondered if his translating device was still on the fritz. It wasn't, but the names bewildered him.
He came upon one plant that stopped him in his tracks. "Venus Fly Trap?" he read. "But these foolish humans haven't even conquered the easiest of interstellar travel yet!" He narrowed his eyes. "… or have they?"
"No? MiniMoose, you must be wrong again. It says 'Venus'!"
MiniMoose rolled his eyes.
Where had Zim seen this plant before? It looked so familiar. "WAHH!" he choked in surprise when the realization hit him. "That plant is incredibly dangerous! One touch and you're dead! Two more and you're out of lives!"
GIR loved to indulge in human pleasures, and video games were no exception. And he had one of the oldest gaming systems: the original Nintendo. Zim had walked in on his 'playing' more than once — which was really him just pushing buttons — and 'Mario.'
"Now I gotta be on the lookout for angry mushrooms and big turtle monsters with tennis shoes!" said Zim in a panic. He dashed off, fearful of the carnivorous plant.
Zim stared in shock at the name. "MiniMoose… tell me this is another translating error."
MiniMoose frowned, unsure if he should tell the truth after last time. "SqueeEEeeak…" he said like one would say, "I dunno…"
"Eggplant," Zim read. "I KNEW THIS WAS A NURSERY! And not just because it says so on the front of the building. This must be where humans raise their young! We must bring one of these… human eggs… home for sick, horrible tests!"
Zim jumped up at the tree, flailing his arms. He fell just about a foot or so short. Again and again he jumped, grabbing at the air. Frustrated, he growled. "This stupid plant is too tall!" He kicked it.
The Irken glanced around for witnesses. He desperately wanted to use his metal spider legs to reach. But one little boy, whose eyes were looking in two different directions, stood idly by.
"YOU! UGLY EARTH CHILD!" said Zim, pointing at the boy. "Assist Zim!"
The kid licked a lollipop. "I got rainbow flavoring," he drawled.
Zim growled again. "Get over here and let me stand on your shoulders!"
"No crossing the line!"
"What line?" Zim looked down and saw a moving line of ants between them. "GAHH! What is that?!"
"Fire ants!" said the boy, now drooling on himself.
"FIRE ANTS?!" Zim gripped his head in fear. "That must mean they have flamethrowers for mouths!"
He scurried off, screaming.
Zim pushed through a bush, spying on the eggplant tree. "It seems the ants of fire are finally gone. Now I can get one of those human eggs from the egg-tree."
He approached the eggplants, looking up at them with his hands on his hips. In reality, they weren't that high up. It was hardly even a 'tree' at all — more like a bush. But poor Zim was doomed with the curse of being short.
Zim grabbed the plant and shook it violently. His plan was to force the eggplant to fall. No matter that this could damage the eggplants; Zim didn't exactly think things through. "FALL, INSOLENT BABY PLANT EGG!"
Suddenly a leaf fell from the small tree and landed on his head. "AAHHH!" Zim screamed, now running around in circles. "Plant is attacking! Plant is attacking!"
The leaf sizzled into his flesh. Zim shrieked in pain as smoke rose from his head. He stopped, dropped, and rolled on the ground. "THE PAAAAIN!" he wailed.
Yes, his plan to appear normal was going just fine.
"Two failed plans mean nothing to Zim!" The alien grinned evilly at the tree. "You hear me, horrible baby-making plant?!"
They say it's good to talk to your plants. But if this one could relay its feelings, it would certainly decline any words of Zim's.
"I know…" Zim laughed evilly, then interrupted himself. "MINIMOOSE! Aid ZIM!"
There was no squeak.
Zim opened one eye in confusion. "MiniMoose?"
In a nearby bush, MiniMoose was… busy. He'd found a recently plucked pomegranate fruit sitting on the ground. And it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever laid his moosey eyes on.
At first things were sweet, and not just because it was a fruit. MiniMoose talked to it, told it how lovely it was. Gave it a peck on the… side. He'd caressed it with his nubs, and well, one thing led to another…Squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak…
Outside the bush, the sounds caught Zim, looking for MiniMoose, off guard. He reached into the bush and pulled the humping moose creature off of the pomegranate. "WHAT'RE YOU DOING WASTING TIME?!" he screeched.
"Squeak…" he replied in a dejected tone, dangling by his antlers in Zim's grasp.
Zim dropped him to the floor. "We need to return to the 'eggplant' to harvest one of the human eggs!"
"HEY!" said an angry voice.
Both MiniMoose and Zim looked over.
It was the man from the street. "I warned you before!"
"Foolish stink-human! I got rid of the rabid creature!" said Zim.
"Yeah, but now you have an un-neutered animal running loose!"
"WHAT?! That is ridiculous! You think those nubs can run?!"
"I'm calling animal control!"
Zim gasped and grabbed MiniMoose. "Hurry, MiniMoose! We must get one of the human eggs before the animal controllers arrive!"
Zim pointed at the eggplants. "See it? Up there! FETCH FOR ZIM!"
MiniMoose nodded and floated upward. He grabbed one of the fruits and pulled.
"Come on! Hurry up!"
MiniMoose strained. His nubs were much too small for a job like this. They were designed for destroying, not crop picking.
The dumb child from before approached. "Heeeey… what's that?" he asked, pointing at MiniMoose.
"Huh? That? Uh…" Zim nervously waved for his minion to return to his side. MiniMoose obeyed. The second he did so, Zim impaled him with the small eggplant sign. MiniMoose stuck in the end of the thin, pointy stick. "Yep, this is just a normal Earth balloon."
"… can I have it?"
"NO! Be gone, Earth-monkey!"
"Aw, man…" The boy dropped his arms and walked away, defeated.
Suddenly, three animal control officers stormed inside. "Everybody hold it!" one said.
"We're being robbed!" said a gardener, cowering.
"No… we are animal control officers! We got a report of a 419 in here: small, un-altered moose on the loose."
Zim widened his eyes. "MiniMoose! Attack!"
"Squeak." MiniMoose shrugged, or at least came as close to a shrug as he could with his nubs.
"There it is!" said one of the officers, pointing at MiniMoose. "Get it! And be careful of the antlers!"
"Run!" Zim dashed toward the backdoor, leaving his servant creature by himself.
"Squea—" Before he could finish, MiniMoose was dog-piled by all three control officers.
The Irken pressed himself against the outside of the door, panting. The thought that his mission was a failure was beginning to creep into his head. He shook the thought and scoffed. "I didn't want those stupid eggplants anyway."
And just like that, Zim's ego returned.
Composed once again, he started to proudly march back home along the street. Just then the animal control van sped by. In the back window, he saw the sad, tearful face of MiniMoose.
Zim gasped. "Oh, yeah! MiniMoose!" He'd forgotten about him. "I didn't forget about you!" he called after the van.
He sprinted as fast as he could after the vehicle. If it wasn't for so many pedestrians in his way, he might have caught up. The alien kept bumping into them, street poles, Deelishus Weenie stands, and anything else crossing his path.
That was a big mistake, because it disrupted his translating chip again.
The van was at a stoplight, allowing Zim to catch up. He read the side of it and grew a shade paler. Due to the 'filthy' translating virus, he read the truck as having something to do with bestiality. Curse those filthy Vortians.
"NO INAPPROPRIATE MOOSE PROBING ALLOWED!" he shouted after the van.
Hearing this, the animal control officers accidentally crashed into another vehicle. The van's back door sprang open and a dazed and slightly injured MiniMoose rolled out onto the road. After jumping over and on a few cars, Zim landed beside him.
Zim grabbed MiniMoose and raised him proudly over his head. "MISSION SUCCESSFUL!"
A/N: I took some liberties with the translating device… it's never explained in the series, so I made some stuff up.
And yes, this is based loosely on that incredibly short fable "The Fox and the Grapes." VERY loosely.