A/N: Well, here it is, everyone. The epilogue to 'Reckoning.' It seems just like yesterday I was writing the first chapter of 'The Puppet Master,' and now here I am, almost a year later, writing the last part of the story begun in that fic. And 'Reckoning' has done pretty well for itself - as of this writing, it's got 66 reviews, 1257 hits, is under 11 favorite story lists, and is on 6 alerts. There are plenty of people I'd like to thank for this, but I'll do that at the end. Read on!
Disclaimer: All non-canon characters and concepts belong to me. Everything else belongs to Jhonen Vasquez.
The next day, the Massive floated in orbit over Irk, while the rest of the Armada was busy clearing away the wreckage from the space battles against the Devastators. In the hanger bay of the flagship, Dib stood next to the Spittle Runner, helping 'Tak' make the final repairs to the ship. He was now back in his regular clothes, under which he wore bandages for his wounds, and his right arm was in a sling.
"There we go," 'Tak' said, "It's not at 100 percent, but it'll be able to get us back to Earth."
"Glad to hear it," Dib said as he put down the welding tool he'd been using and dusted off his good hand, "After all of this, it'll be good to be home."
Dib looked up to see the Tallest enter the hanger, followed by Gor - who'd been promoted from Pretty-Mighty Third Tallest to Sort-of-Mighty Second Tallest in light of Arnor's death - and a few Elite Guards. Dib gave them all a dry look and said, "Let me guess- you decided to shoot me out the airlock anyway, right?"
"Can we?" Gor asked the Tallest, clutching his hands together excitedly.
"Unfortunately, no," Purple said, answering both of them, "The Control Brains said that we, and I quote, 'should be grateful to the human that helped end Prime's madness once and for all.'"
"And I happen to agree with them," Red said, giving his co-ruler the Irken version of the evil eye, "Not so much because of what happened with Prime - since I didn't even know he existed until yesterday - but because he got rid of that pain-in-the-ass traitor Zim. That alone is worth sparing his life." Red then turned his attention back to Dib and reached into the pocket band on his armor. "So human, I've therefore decided to reward you… with this sandwich." He then pulled a sandwich out of his pocket band and gave it to Dib.
Dib blinked as he looked at the sandwich now in his hand, and then looked up at the Tallest.
"You're… joking, right?" he said, "I practically won this war for you guys single handed, and you pay me back with a sandwich?"
"For us, that's being generous," Purple said with a shrug, "Now beat it. We don't want your inferior lungs breathing our air anymore."
With that, the whole group of Irkens turned and left the room. Dib watched them leave, then shook his head and muttered something about ungrateful jerks. He climbed into the cockpit and tossed the sandwich into the back compartment.
"So, back to Earth then?" 'Tak' asked, closing the viewport and flying out of the hanger.
"Yep," Dib replied, getting into a comfortable position in the chair.
"What are you going to do now, anyway?" 'Tak' asked, "After all, now that Zim's gone, you don't have anyone to fight to protect that quaint little planet of yours."
Dib shrugged, careful not to aggravate his healing arm. "I didn't get into paranormal studies to fight Zim. There are still plenty of things on Earth left to study that so-called 'real science' ignores- and who knows, maybe people will take me more seriously now, because of the Devastator attack."
"Whatever you say," 'Tak' said, shaking her head, "But bear in mind that no matter what happens, we had a deal. I helped you to defeat Zim, now you let me go, so that I may find my mistress."
"Yeah, I know," Dib said, holding his good hand up defensively, then he paused and said, "And, uh, when you do find Tak… say hi for me."
'Tak' smirked at Dib.
"Why?" she asked, "Got a little thing for her?"
"Shut up!" Dib snapped, his cheeks flushing red. 'Tak' merely laughed as the hyperspace drives powered up and the Spittle Runner disappeared in a flash of light, on its way back to Earth.
On Caedus, smoke still rose from the wreckage of the Vengeance. Due to the thin atmosphere, the fires weren't very large, but they were numerous, and the smoke clouds billowed high into the air. Suddenly, something shot through one of the smoke columns and hit the ground. As it pulled itself up, it was revealed to be GIR, currently in duty mode.
After the garbage pod he'd been tricked into had been ejected from the Vengeance, it had also been pulled into Caedus' gravity well and crashed on the moon. For a while, GIR had been content to stay there, playing in the garbage, but then he had received a signal on a special frequency designed only for him, which had switched him over to duty mode. He had then followed the signal, which had led him to the crash site.
He now picked his way through the wreckage, trying to locate the source of the signal. Finally, he reached what was left of the bridge, and turned over the remains of a console. And there, slightly burned and with a small crack in one side, was Zim's PAK. Aside from the minor damage, the only thing different about it was that one of the pink nodes on the back was flashing.
GIR's red parts changed to blue as he stared at the flashing node.
"Ooooo! What does this do?" he asked. He reached out with one of his fingers and pushed the node, which slid in like a button.
The node stopped flashing, but then flared brightly, as did the other nodes. The PAK shook, and as GIR stared at it, a cable shot out of the device and latched onto his head. Electricity cackled from the PAK, across the cable, and into GIR. The blue lights in his eyes and other colored parts went dead as data was poured into his mind, quickly overwriting his own simple code, and taking control of his body.
The nodes on the PAK went dead, and the cable collapsed to the ground, having fulfilled its purpose. Energy continued to crackle around GIR for a few moments, before it stopped. The lights on GIR's body flickered back on, this time in a shade of red lighter than the usual 'duty mode' color. He slowly blinked, then looked down at his metal hands, and a grin appeared on his metal face.
"It actually worked! I am a genius!" he shouted… in Zim's voice.
He looked down at the PAK lying on the ground. It was a well-known fact that a PAK contained all the memories and thoughts of the Irken wearing it, so it had been a simple matter to reprogram the PAK to download his consciousness into a new body in case his was destroyed. Of course, then the question became what body to download to. He had felt bad about using GIR, once he'd decided on him, but it was the only choice that would guarantee his survival. SIR units were practically indestructible, after all, which would make him virtually immortal after the download. So, he programmed the PAK to activate a homing beacon on GIR's private frequency, and had then prayed that his PAK would prove as durable as his servant.
Zim stopped his reminiscing and walked away from his former PAK. Digging through the wreckage, the Irken-turned-robot finally found what he was looking for- Prime's remains.
The Control Brain's body was blackened and torn nearly in two. The internal wiring and circuitry was torn apart or incinerated altogether. One of the optics was missing, and the other one was cracked. Zim stared into his reflection in the glass-like surface of that optic, taking a moment to adjust to the fact that it was indeed his reflection.
He then said, "So, 'my Lord,' it seems as though I have outlasted you. But don't worry; I've learned much from you. Like you did, I've made my enemies think I am dead. Like you did, I will bide my time, until I can strike and take my revenge. But unlike you, I will not make mistakes. I will not be defeated. And I will be victorious!"
Zim smashed the optic with his metal fist, then turned his robotic eyes towards the sky, looking at Irk, shining in the heavens. "If you could wait, Prime, so can I. Someday, I will take my revenge on the Irken Empire and Earth, and the age of Zim shall begin! Mwua, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
A/N: There it is my friends, the end of 'Reckoning.' I know that it just sort of stops, but my philosophy is that fiction should reflect life- and the battle between good and evil will never end.
Now, before anyone asks, I will NOT be writing a sequel (mostly because I have no idea what I'd do with one). But, should anyone be willing to write one themselves as a homage… well, I wouldn't complain.
However, while I won't be continuing this series, I am planning on a whole new saga. The first story in it is called "Shadows of the Future," and I'll be getting to work on it soon. But first, I have a few smaller projects I want to get out of the way, which I hope you'll all enjoy.
On a final note, I said at the beginning of the epilogue that there were some people I'd like to thank, and I'll do that now: JoeMerl, Anonymous Void, The Banished Prince, ngrey651, Amberkitty123, Liani Risate, Lunadoll419, Alohilani, EelvenGirl, Rebecca the Animorph, and Azvee. You've all been wonderful, especially those of you who have been with me since 'The Puppet Master.' I hope you'll all continue to read my work, and write your own.
Until next time, this is Zim'sMostLoyalServant signing off. Read and review!