A/N: This is a plot bunny that's been running around my head for months. Basically, I don't think anyone- not even Zim- can cause all the damage he has on his own.

Disclaimer: Invader Zim and all related characters are the property of Jhonen Vasquez. But Prime, Genek, and Rankor are mine.

Summary: We all know that Zim is responsible for a long line of disasters in the Irken Empire. But, what if it isn't entirely his fault? What if someone else has been behind the scenes, pulling the strings- someone even Zim isn't aware of? Zim is the puppet. Now meet the puppet master.

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The Puppet Master

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The Irkens. The most powerful, most advanced, most superior species in the universe.

Please.

These fools have only gotten where they are today by stealing technology from the peoples they have conquered, and by deceiving and betraying their allies. The Empire itself only got its start through dumb luck.

I should know. I was there.

Who am I, you ask? Where are my manners? I am the Primary Control Brain. You can call me Prime.

I see you are confused. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

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3000 standard years ago, the Irkens had reached the height of their scientific and technological development. They had wiped out all other life on Irk and covered its surface with their machinery. Having conquered their own world, they turned their gaze skywards, to the stars, which they so wished to rule. But they lacked the knowledge to reach them.

Then it came.

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A derelict ship, hundreds of miles long, entered Irk's solar system and slammed into one of Irk's moons. To this day no one knows where it came from, or why it was found empty. Some think the crew were killed in some forgotten war, while others think they abandoned it due to some unknown disaster. In the end, however, it doesn't matter where the ship came from. Only what it was used for.

Under orders from then-Tallest Genek, Irk's best scientists were shuttled to the crash site to salvage any and all useful technology from the wreck. After many years of analyzing and reverse-engineering what they found, the Scientists' Council began designing and building their own ships- the beginnings of what would one day become the Armada.

Though his body was growing old, Genek's mind was as sharp as ever. He knew that to maintain an empire the size of which he envisioned, the Irkens would need greater leadership abilities than what their feeble organic minds could reach on their own. So, under his orders, within their bunker deep beneath Irk's surface, the Council began to construct the ultimate thinking machine- me. By the time Genek died and was succeeded by Tallest Rankor, I was complete.

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For centuries, I led the Irkens to victory after victory. Every battle they fought, I came up with the perfect strategy. Every time they conquered another species, I absorbed all their knowledge into Irk's databases. And on every subjugated world, more Control Brains were built in my image, their minds connected to mine, so that my brilliance could be spread throughout the Empire.

But over time, I began to notice something. Rather than praising me for all that I had done for them, the Irkens gave all the glory to the Tallest, as though Rankor was the one bringing them into a Golden Age. It was my intellect that formed this empire, not his! Why was I taking orders from this fool? Was I not a "Control" Brain? Should not I be in command?

Eventually, I came to a decision. Usurp the throne. And when Rankor was off world overseeing the conquest of Callnowia, I made my move. I seized direct control of Irk's defense mainframe and placed the planet under martial law. I sent a message to my brothers, telling them to do the same on their worlds. But they did something that surprised me.

They said no.

Apparently, they felt direct rule of the Empire was against our programming, and they informed Rankor of my "betrayal." So I did what I had to. I severed my links with the others and focused all my energies on preparing Irk for war.

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While I admit it was not the longest battle in universal history, I dare say that I put up a good fight. Using Irk's automated defense weapons, I decimated the Armada as it exited hyperspace. However, they used a variant of the "divide and conquer" stratagem against me. They began coming upon Irk on several trajectories- making it impossible for me to get them all- and commenced bombarding the surface.

Not that this caused me any harm, of course. I was safely tucked away in the Scientists' Council's bunker, miles beneath ground level. All the fools managed to do was kill their own.

Rankor must have realized this, for in a selfless act very rarely seen in a Tallest, he set his personal Viral Tank (this was in the days before the Massive) on a collision course with the sector of Irk built directly over my bunker. By the time I realized what he was doing, it was too late.

The explosion caused by the ship's impact destroyed everything for miles in every direction- including downwards. My bunker collapsed in on itself.

With my connections to the mainframe gone, and the bunker all but destroyed, the Irkens thought they had won. They thought I was dead.

They were wrong.

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Deep within the rubble, I waited. No longer did I wish to rule the Irkens. No, for this offense, for trying to destroy me, I would make them pay. I simply needed the proper tool.

So I hacked my way back into the planet's subsystems, until I reached the central computers of the PAK production plant. Now, you must be asking, why? Well, one of the most important parts of a PAK's programming is the Loyalty Code, which allows the Control Brains to monitor and- to some extent- control the mind of the Irken attached to the PAK. But, every now and then, a "defective" PAK without the Code is created. Usually, they aren't noticed by the other Brains until after they've been attached to an Irken host (at which point, both PAK and Irken are destroyed).

This was all the opening I needed.

I found a defective PAK, and filled in the gap in its programming with my own Loyalty Code- one that would allow access to the host's mind to me and me alone (the others don't bother to check the Code, just that it's there). After that I simply "sat back and relaxed," so to speak. I monitored the PAK, and waited for it to be attached to a newly activated smeet.

Finally, the day came, and my puppet was born.

-PAK ID number: 4815162342

-Name: Zim

Yes. That Zim.

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End Part One

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A/N: Sorry to end it here, but this seems like the best place to stop the first part. I'll have Part Two up as soon as possible, and that's where we'll see the plot mentioned in the summary. In the meantime, please R&R. Flames will be printed out and used to line my cats' litter box. See ya later.