Beta-Testing

Chapter 2

A/N: I am so freaking sorry that this never got up sooner. I'm so so so SO sorry it took so long. I hope it was worth the wait. X.x

Also, since the question of age arises in this chapter, I have some explaining to do. Jhonen Vasquez has pointed out that Zim is 159 earth years old when Dib is 11, which makes him 16 in Irk years. After doing some math, I've found that Irk spins 10 times SLOWER than earth. As such, for every 10 rotations of earth, there is one rotation of Irk. In this story, Dib is 15, and a freshman in high school. If you do the math, Zim should be 20 in Irk years, which SHOULD make him the age mentioned at the end of this chapter.

If not, sorry about how fail my math is. It was never my best subject. I tried.

Enjoy!

--

Irken Observation

Log 25

Day 80

M is back on earth. From what my cameras picked up, he arrived early this morning, around 2:25 am, in a transport similar to the ship I salvaged 4 years ago after the arrival and departure of K. It's definitely Irken.

Dib looked up from his composition book, glancing suspiciously over at his nemesis. His gaze was fierce and intense, to the point where he might've been able to set Zim afire with his very stare. He squinted, then dipped back down to scribble more into his entry.

He is making me more suspicious than usual. All day he's had this… GLEAM in his eye to go with that insane grin of his. His teeth are all nasty and yellow, too. I wonder if that's genetic to Irkens, or if they just don't brush their teeth. Note to self: Find that out.

The human looked up once more at the alien sitting a few lunch tables away, his eyes narrow and observant. Zim was poking his food with his fork, the same idle way he always had since his enrollment. He paused a moment to scratch the itchy skin beneath his wig, then returned to playing with the slop. Dib's frown would have probably ripped his face open if he could deepen it any more.

Look at him… Sitting there, all smug and sure of himself. What is the little freak planning? If only I could get into his mind. If only I knew where he went, and why… He seems way too young to be a planet conqueror, he still looks like he's 12. Hm. I wonder how old he is….

Dib paused his writing, looking back at Zim with a quirked brow. He glanced over at his sister, who was ignoring the ruckus of the high school cafeteria by playing her Gameslave 4. Figuring if he suddenly became annoying to her she'd let him know, he tore a page from his log book, scribbled something on it, and chucked it at Zim. It whacked the green alien on the side of the head before splashing into the pool of barf-colored sludge before him. Zim growled, plucking the paper from the mess and squinting about the room to see who he had to kill.

Dib grinned and waved, earning another grumble from Zim. He couldn't kill him yet. Damn.

Zim carefully uncrumpled the paper, careful of the nasty food on it's surface. He squinted at the chicken scratch, turning it every which way to try and read it properly.

How old are you?

He set the paper down on the table and just stared at Dib. His large, contact lens covered eyes were squinted suspiciously and a frown curled his thin lips. Dib responded with an innocent shrug and slightly raised brows. Zim merely shook his head and pulled out a pen. Once he message was written, he grabbed some napkins to clean the paper, and then crumpled it up tight before throwing it back. Dib picked the paper up from where it rolled into his shoe and opened it fully. Zim's handwriting was unnaturally neat.

Why should I tell a filthy human like you?

Dib frowned and stared back at Zim with an unamused look. Zim merely smirked and imitated the human's earlier shrug. He should have figured the alien wouldn't just tell him outright.

The rest of lunch was spent throwing the nasty paper back and forth.

What's the big deal? You're obviously obscenely older than me.

If I tell you, I'll have to kill you. Not that I wasn't going to anyway, but Zim has reason to keep you alive temporarily..

I'd love to see you try THAT.

Dib, Dib… When will you learn the superiority of Irken technology?

When everything you do stops blowing up in your face, and all together failing. Miserably.

Not everything does, stink-beast!

Prove it!

Fine! Zim will meet you behind the skool at 5.

FINE. I'll be there.

GOOD.

When the bell rang for 5th period to begin, Dib turned his attention back to his observation log.

Oh, it was going to be a good day for the people who read his blog.

--

Dib checked his watch.

5:30 pm.

Something inside him flared. He'd sat in a deserted, disgusting, smelly alleyway for 30 minutes already, waiting for an imbecile who wasn't even close to being worth 5 minutes of his time.

That little jerk stood him up.

Great, and he'd already told everyone on the Swollen Eyeball Network he'd be dueling it out with 'M' after school today. He was hoping the battle would win him recognition and praise. None of the Agents really liked him much, but there was at least a handful of them who followed his Irken Log on a daily basis. Most of them were morons, but hey, they were someone.

5 more minutes.

He'd give Zim 5 more minutes.

5 minutes passed and the Irken never showed. Dib went to school the next day with a cold, but a flame of hate raged in his body. He'd never been so humiliated in his life. Well, ok, that was a lie. He'd felt humiliated almost every day of his life until Zim showed up because of his stupid classmates. But really, ZIM stood him up? He thought Irkens were all about pride and power; that they squashed everyone smaller and weaker than them at the drop of a dime.

That is, not that Dib was smaller and weaker than Zim…

He actually grew. He was a head taller than Zim now. The Irken always seemed strong, though.. It was hard to tell how weak he was compared to Dib, but…

He spent the majority of class time staring daggers at the little Irken, who in turn ignored him. When he finally approached Zim at lunch, he acted like it was no big deal.

"Oh, you took that seriously?" Zim laughed, grabbing his fork to pile it high with some day-old refried beans. "I figured you'd chicken out anyway, since I'm way more powerful than you'll ever be. I figured, 'Why waste my time on a silly, stinky, smelly earth baby?'"

"I sat there for THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES, and you're telling me you NEVER planned to even show up in the first place?! Do you know how FOUL that alley is?!" Dib snarled, his already boiling temper threatening to overflow. He suddenly cringed, and the feel of the cafeteria's nasty beans against his face was not even the slightest bit enjoyable. A deep growl emitted from his throat, but the Irken across the table just grinned and put his now empty fork back in his beans.

"I've found I really don't care, Dib-monkey. In fact, why don't you just go sit there now? You'd fit in with all the filthy earth creatures that love the garbage containment pod." Zim piled his fork high with the sloppy, brown paste once more.

"You mean the dumpster?" Dib growled, wiping his face and flicking the food on the floor. He squeaked as another load of beans hit his face, and almost immediately reached over and seized the alien by the front of his pink shirt. "What the HELL!"

Zim practically screamed as his face was shoved into the glop on his lunchtray. He struggled against Dib's firm hold on the back of his head, the foul substance already burning into his skin. After managing to get his face up, he gasped heavily for air and tried his best to speak.

"DIB-BEAST! I COMMAND YOU TO-" He was cut off by the human slamming his face back into the mess.

"I'm sorry, did you say something Zim? I can't hear you through the beans," Dib taunted, smirking. He took a moment to let Zim sit back up.

"I'LL KILL YOU-!"

"Zim, you can't even keep me from shoving your face into your lunch," he snickered, twisting the alien's face around his tray. "You think you can kill me?"

The Irken quickly grabbed a hold of his enemy's wrists and yanked them from his now skew wig, then proceeded to yank the surprised teen forward onto the table. He hastily shoved Dib's face into the splattered mess that used to be refried beans, the claws on his hands digging harshly into his scalp.

"Humans are severely inferior to the Irken race. I could kill you in an instant, whenever, wherever," Zim barked, wiping his face with one hand. Dib flailed a bit before shoving the 3-fingered hands from his head. He sat up swiftly, panting as he stumbled back away from the lunch table.

"Then why haven't you done it yet, Mr. High and Mighty?!" he snapped, at this point not even caring about the smelly beans on his face.

Zim had to pause.

… That was a good question.

"…Well… I… Uh.."

Dib grinned. "It's because you CAN'T, isn't it? You know I'll win every time. You're just trying to save yourself the embarrassment, aren't you?"

Zim's face turned an odd shade of green-blue. "Irkens are NEVER embarrassed! We are the superior race of the galaxy! AND BEYOND! I just need to keep you ALIVE until the Almighty Tallest get here! Then you'll be the FIRST to get dissected! ALIVE! And then.. And then you'll DIE! After you were ALIVE!"

"Really, Zim," Dib sighed, crossing his arms. "I didn't know that people die after being alive."

"Sh-Shut you're stupid, filthy human mouth! Zim challenges you to a duel!"

Suddenly, Dib's interest was piqued. He smirked. "I accept. Tonight at 8, behind the skool. Bring your most powerful weapon." He paused. "Oh, and if I don't show up right away, just keep waiting."

Zim frowned heavily, but he was so severely pissed at the boy before him to notice he was being deceived. "You're going to die tonight, Dib-stink."

--

The little Irken made his way through the deserted street, gnashing his rotten teeth so loud you could probably hear it a mile away. His gloved hands were shoved into his pants pocket, and he slouched terribly as he trotted along the cement. Why that little--! How DARE that filthy beast stand up a meeting to determine life and death? Especially with the great ZIM! He'd gotten all excited for nothing! Zim growled darkly through his clenched teeth, pausing a moment in the street.

That little creep…

He huffed, then slammed his fist into the nearby garage can. He should've killed the Dib long ago! Then this stupid, moronic planet would already be part of the mighty Irken Empire!

His thinking was interrupted by a sudden, nearby moaning. Zim practically jumped out of his skin, but he couldn't keep his curiosity from making him investigate the odd sound. He'd never heard it before. Maybe it was some ugly, odd, filthy earth creature? It sounded like it was dying. What freak made dying noises on a daily basis?

He pulled out the heavy cans from their places in front of the little alley, peering into the darkness for any signs of life. What he saw, however, was not a cat, or a raccoon, or a squirrel, or any kind of animal for that matter. In fact, it was a human.

Zim gasped, horrified. He backed away from the groaning figure, covering his mouth. All he could do was stand there and stare.

Finally, convincing himself he was no coward, he put on a determined face and marched over to the crumpled figure. It took him a moment, but he finally ignored the odd twisting in his organs and crouched down next to the body to examine it.

He squinted his eyes a bit, a frown slipping onto his face. It was obviously female; human women had odd, squishy humps coming off their chests. He scratched his chin. But why was her shirt torn open to expose them? He'd always thought they were 'private'. He stuck his finger in the dark puddle at his feet, then lifted it to his face. He stared at it a moment, then shifted his antenna to 'smell' it. He choked. Sour, metallic; not pleasant. He knew what it was instantly. Blood. His lips stretched into a harder frown. This human was bleeding so much she produced a puddle? He glanced down her body, and found blood spattered everywhere along her body, but mostly around her legs and head. He quirked an eye open farther. Her pants were missing.

Zim jumped slightly when the woman moaned again. He quickly looked to her face, where he found her staring at him. He blinked. His insides were twisting again… Why was he feeling like that? It's just a stupid, filthy human. He gasped when her face morphed into the worst look he'd ever seen.

"Help…….. me…" she gasped, tears suddenly leaking out of her dull, dead eyes. Zim had been around humans long enough to know this woman's fate had been sealed. He couldn't help her even if he'd wanted to.

But… she was just a stupid, filthy, disgusting human-beast, right? Something inside him made him smile, sorrowfully, at her face.

"I am sorry," he whispered. "I cannot help you."

Her face was frightening him. He needed to get out of there before he sank any lower into emotions he found rather human. He was feeling sorry for her, for her fate. He was angry that he couldn't help her. He was frustrated and sad that someone would do that to her. She was making him soft. He vainly found himself refusing to be swayed by her.

Zim was Irken. Death and destruction was programmed into his Pak. He'd seen planets, entire species, fall at the hands of his people.

Why was this single woman so different?

He forced himself to leave the poor, dying woman in the alley. But not before he called the police.

For the entire trip home, he thought about the human race. They were peaceful; they didn't fly to other planets and attack their beings like Irkens did. They weren't controlled by one being, each section of the planet was ruled by someone different.

But they were the only race he'd ever encountered that slaughtered each other like animals. How could someone do that to their own race?

He didn't know.

--

Dib was quite proud of himself. He spent the entire night thinking about how miserable Zim must've been, sitting around behind the skool, in the middle of the night. Oh, revenge was sweet! He grinned merrily as he trotted down the sidewalk with a spring in his step, Gaz at his side. He could just imagine the look on the Irken's face! All that misery! It was June, so it was unfortunately not cold enough to freeze the little freak, but he didn't care. Zim probably stayed out all night waiting for him!

He didn't notice he was skipping until Gaz shoved the side of her fist into his stomach, instantly succeeding in stopping his brother in his tracks.

"Stop that. It's really annoying," she growled, never once looking up from her Gameslave 3. Dib laughed in a pained manner, doubling over to grab his stomach. He really did hate how harsh his sister was sometimes. He wobbled forward after her, knowing that if he lingered it'd only make her more annoyed. He didn't get very far before her walked right into her. He looked up to question her hault, but it was almost immediately answered by a familiar growl.

"Gaz-devil, I need to have a word with your filthy human sibling."

Gaz snorted. "You don't need to ask for my permission, idiot. Now get out of my way, I'm going to be late."

"You could just go around me-" Zim squeaked in terror as the girl grabbed his shirt and growled darkly in his face. "Right! Moving!"

Zim huffed, frowning darkly as Gaz continued down the sidewalk. Dib smirked a bit, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose.

"Look at you. Whipped by a girl," he teased, standing up straight. He earned a rather dark glare.

"I don't see you standing up to that filthy devil, Dib-stink."

"So," Dib crossed his arms, shifting his weight on his feet. He stared at Zim with a smug look. "I'm assuming this is about last night-hey!"

Zim never responded; he merely grabbed onto Dib's arm and began to yank him towards the space between two nearby houses. Despite all his troubles, the human wasn't able to free himself from the harsh grip of the furious Irken. Maybe he'd underestimated Zim's strength….? He answered his own question was he was practically thrown into some broken furniture that'd looked like it's been sitting between the houses for over a decade. Dust and moths flew everywhere as he landed and rolled off onto the dying grass. He coughed, suddenly in pain, and looked up at Zim's slender, looming body. Dib's eyes widened.

He had never seen Zim so furious in his entire life. It sent frightened shivers all up and down his spine.

"Yes, this IS about last night, Dib-stink," the alien growled, raising an arm to hit a small button on his wrist.

Dib found himself scrambling back against the fence in fear. Once the button was pressed, Zim's shadow had left up from its place on the grass and completely engulfed his small-ish form. The Irken's body was shrouded in a swirling darkness, which soon stretched him into an impossibly large figure, 9 ft. tall by Dib's reckoning. When Zim's limbs and appendages took shape, so did the strap carrying all kinds of insane, alien weapons and devices. By the look of them, they were all meant to destroy anything instantly, and if not that, torture indefinitely. Zim's body never separated from his shadow, and left everything but his angry pink-red eyes and ammunition shrouded in darkness.

Zim was completely serious about killing him. He had to get out of there, and fast.

"Stay down, you stupid filthy beast," Zim barked, using his foot to shove a trying to escape Dib back against the wooden fence. Dib huffed at the impact, any air in his lungs being instantly forced out. At the metallic sound of a cocking gun, he looked up at the looming dark body with wide eyes, and found himself face to face with one of Zim's rather large guns.

"By the way," Zim said casually, ignoring the high-pitched ringing of the gun charging. "I'm 200 years old."