A/N: Welcome to the first chapter of 'Reckoning,' the sequel to my first (and most popular) story, 'The Puppet Master'. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT, DO SO BEFORE GOING ANY FURTHER.

I know this has taken a long time to get up, but between school and a bunch of other plot bunnies running around my head, I haven't had the time. I hope it's worth the wait.

Disclaimer: Invader Zim and all related characters belong to the great and powerful Jhonen Vasquez. Prime, however, belongs to me.

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Reckoning

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Seen from space, one wouldn't think the planet Irk was home to a warmongering race of conquerors. Illuminated by the light of the twin stars at the heart of the system, Irk's ammonia oceans could be clearly seen as they surrounded the planet's four continents. Once, these landmasses had boasted blistering deserts at the equator, which turned into beautiful grasslands and forests in the temperate zones, which stretched all the way to the tundra of the polar caps.

However, over the millennia, the Irkens had swept away these marvelous ecosystems, replacing them with mega-cities that stretched for hundreds of miles. At the center of the northernmost continent was one such city. Its name was Capital City, and it was… well, if you can't figure out what the city was used for, you must have a pretty low IQ.

Near the center of Capital City was a building that towered far above the others. This was Tallest Tower, which was nominally the residence of the Almighty Tallest. However, when they were off world, such as the current two were, it was used by the Sort-Of-Might Second Tallest and Pretty-Mighty Third Tallest. Of course, the Control Brains stored in a bunker underneath the Tower were by law in charge when the Tallest weren't around, so just what the Second Tallest and Third Tallest actually did for a living was a complete mystery.

In any case, the focus of this narrative is not the Tower, nor the seemingly pointless nature of the Irken political system. Rather, it is the large crater on the outskirts of the city. Actually, "large" was an understatement, as it was easily a dozen miles in diameter. No one really knew how it had gotten there. The Control Brains had placed an Omega-Level security block on any information regarding the crater - which in laymen's terms meant that if any Irken, except the Almighty Tallest themselves, tried to view this information, they'd be executed for treason.

And why was this? Well, for the answer to that, one would have to look at the ruins buried underneath the crater…

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In the half-destroyed tunnels that lay several miles under the bottom of the crater, a small form scampered through the centuries-old rubble. With its shaggy fur and long, hairless tail, it very much resembled the common Earth rat. If you ignored the fact that it had two extra legs and compound eyes, that is. Despite the Irkens' attempts to eliminate all inferior life forms on their precious home world, vermin such as this one had survived underground and in the sub-levels of the mega-cities.

This particular rodent, in its eternal quest for food, squeezed through a crack in one of the walls, passing into a large, seemingly empty space that had apparently held up better than the rest of the complex that had once existed where the crater now did. Suddenly, the rodent's sixth sense for danger went off. Before it could act on the instinct to flee, a large metal tendril swooped out of the darkness and wrapped around the rodent's body. It gave a squeak of fear as it was lifted into the air.

"Well, well," a deep, yet cultured, voice came out the shadows, "What's this? A visitor? I haven't had a visitor in ages." The terrified rodent was pulled towards the center of the massive chamber, where it soon found itself staring into the large red eyes of a metal monstrosity. "Do you know who I am, little rodent?" it asked. When no answer came - not that it was expecting one - it said, "I am Prime, the Primary Control Brain, and former ruler of the Irken Empire, master of an army numbering in the billions. Now look at me- reduced to living in the remains of what was once my great fortress, hiding my existence from the very beings I once commanded. Do you have any idea what that feels like?"

The rat continued to struggle in an attempt to free itself, letting out squeaks of terror. "Of course you don't," Prime said, "You're a mere vermin. How could you understand concepts like pride? Or power? Or loss? Or - most importantly - revenge?" Prime let out a laugh as he waved his "guest" around in the air. "That's right, little rodent," he said, "I will have my revenge against the Irkens and my brethren Control Brains for turning on me, and attempting to destroy me! They will all pay! I already have the perfect weapon prepared… all I need to do now is wait for him to become truly ready." He paused, before asking, "Would you care to see?"

The rat bit the metal tentacle holding it in an attempt to make it let go, but that only resulted in broken teeth. Taking this as a "yes", Prime turned his captive towards a holo-screen built into the wall. With a thought, Prime activated it, latching onto the signal being transmitted by the PAK of a certain Irken Invader.

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On the other side of the galaxy, on an insignificant blue-and-green planet called Earth, said Invader prepared to initiate his most brilliant plan ever. Of course, all of his plans were brilliant, but this one was extremely brilliant…

Zim let out one of his trademark evil laughs as he placed an explosive device on the top of the city cesspool's wall. "Yes, this is brilliant!" he yelled, shaking his fists in the sky.

"Ssshhh!" a voice off to the side said, "You're going to scare all the fishies!" Raising a nonexistent eyebrow, Zim turned to find GIR, in his dog costume, sitting on the other side of the wall with a fishing pole whose hook was lowered into the pool of garbage below them.

"Uh, GIR?" he said, not to sure how to put this to his child-like servant, "There aren't any fish in there."

"Yes there are!" GIR whined, holding up his latest "catch"- an empty box of fish sticks. Zim groaned as he rubbed the space between his contact-covered eyes. "Just get over here and help me!"

"Yes my lord!" GIR said, snapping to attention as he switched into duty mode. He marched over to Zim, and then promptly went back to normal, as he asked, "What are we doing again?"

Zim let out a sigh as he explained the plan to GIR for the tenth time that hour. "We are going to blow up the cesspool's wall, and watch as this filthy city and all its filthy human inhabitants are dissolved by their own filth! Then, this planet will be ripe for conquest, and all shall kneel before ZIM!"

"Not so fast Zim!" an annoyingly familiar voice shouted from behind the poorly disguised alien. Twitching with anger, Zim turned to find his human nemesis climbing up from the emergency ladder on the side of the cesspool wall. "I'm not letting you blow up the cesspool, Zim," Dib panted, trying to catch his breath from the quick climb, while still looking heroic.

"How did you know what I was planning, Dib-Stink? Have you been spying on Zim again?!" Zim snapped, getting into a fighting position.

"Well, duh," Dib said, tensing for a fight as well, "But even if I wasn't, you just shouted out your plan loud enough for everyone in a five-mile radius to hear."

"You lie!" Zim shouted, pointing a finger at Dib melodramatically.

"Whatever," Dib said, rolling his eyes, "Can we just get this over with? 'Mysterious Mysteries' is on in an hour, and I'd like to be to able to watch it."

Zim let out another mad cackle, and said, "Foolish Earth-monkey! Do you honestly believe that you can defeat a member of the Irken Elite?"

"In case you haven't noticed, Spaceboy," Dib said, in a slightly mocking tone, "I beat you every time we fight."

"SILENCE!" Zim roared, "It matters not what has happened in the past. This time, victory belongs to ZIM! GIR, hand me the detonator!"

"Okie-dokie!" GIR said, unzipping the top of his dog costume, popping open his metal head- and shooting a metal remote control device directly into Zim's face. Zim let out a grunt of pain and surprise, and instinctively backed up. Naturally, of course, he tripped over his own explosive device and went flying over the city side of the cesspool towards the sidewalk below.

Dib blinked in surprise, then said, "Wow, that was even easier than usual." With a shrug, he picked up the explosive and heaved it into the cesspool. After making sure it was beginning to dissolve, he started back towards the ladder. "See ya, GIR," he said to the robot, who had gone back to fishing.

"Bye-bye, Bighead!" GIR said, apparently not caring that his master had just taken a 50-foot plummet.

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Speaking of Zim, he was painfully pulling himself out of the hole he had made in the concrete. Fortunately, he had landed on his front, so his PAK hadn't been damaged, and it was hard at work at repairing his injuries. Painfully readjusting his neck back to its normal position, Zim looked up at the still-intact cesspool wall. 'Well, there goes another plan,' he thought with a sigh, 'At this rate, I'll never conquer this planet.'

However, he quickly pushed those thoughts out of his head. "No," he said, "I will not succumb to doubt. I will take over this spinning ball of dirt, and then all will know that Zim is the greatest of all Invaders!" Zim paused as he realized that a hotdog vendor across the street was staring at him. "Uh, I am normal!" he said quickly, before running off. The vendor shrugged and went back to work.

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Back on Irk, Prime laughed. He had watched the whole thing through Zim's eyes thanks to his private link to the incompetent Invader's PAK. Also thanks to that link, he had read those thoughts Zim had just had. "Yes, that's right, my pawn," he said with a chuckle, "Bottle up all those feeling of doubt and anger. The more you do, the more powerful your rage will be when I unleash it on the Empire. With me guiding it, it will consume all who stand against me."

Turning his attention back to the rodent in his grasp, Prime said, "You see, he's in denial about his shortcomings, but that'll only increase his anger when he faces them-" Prime stopped as he realized that the rat had stopped moving. Quickly scanning it, the Primary Control Brain found that its heart had stopped. Apparently, its fear had finally overcome it, and it had had a panic-induced heart attack. "That's a shame," he muttered, "I enjoyed actually having someone to talk to once. Oh well." With a flick of his tentacle, Prime sent the rodent flying into the shadows that filled the remains of his bunker.

"Back to work."

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A/N: I know the ending's kind of abrupt, but you know what they say, "Always leave them wanting more." I'll try and make future chapters longer.

On a side note, I should mention that I drew much inspiration from two other stories: 'Astrobiological Analysis of the Irken Race' by Dr. Lovekill, and 'Namesake' by JoeMerl. If you're interested in reading them, they're both under my favorites.

Until next time, read and review!