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The room was cold, dark and quiet.
Those were the first things that came to Zim as consciousness trickled back into his fuzzy, drug addled mind. His eyes flitted open and adjusted, scanning his surroundings for information.
Muddled outlines of chairs and unused computers illuminated in waves by the pulsing gleam of a clearance light that shone through the window nearest him from the wing of the ship he was in.
That was about it.
With that much situated, Zim tried to rise, not out of desire to move, but rather to confirm his suspicion.
To his unsuprise his body did not react.
'Bothyx powder,' he noted in regards to the gas that had been used to subdue him. His soldier side was in full control at the moment, pulling from his training on the various tools he'd learned in the academy. He knew the only way he could move was to sleep it off, which would take weeks, or to be administered an antidote, something deep inside told him the latter would be his eventual fate, until then he could only think.
'I'm being retrieved, my mission has been canceled, and I'm going home to Irk...'
None of the situation that just transpired made sense, why was he being retrieved? The Tallests sent him to Earth to conquer its inhabitants, well more like were forced to send him. Why would they want him back? Did they finally realize he was an asset to the empire? That couldn't be it, if they did they'd have waited until he claimed Earth. Impatience? Hardly, the empire and was patient as a conquering race. In fact the empire only gave up on planets that no longer served their purpose and that usually comprised of planets that were unfortunate enough to end up being in the pull of a random black hole. Earth had promise, much promise. It was filled with useful resources, not to mention useful creatures. It was nothing short of a invader gold mine. His heart of hearts told him that wasn't the reason he was being taken back
'Awake already, impressive soldier, " someone stated. Zim was pulled from his musings and stared at the ceiling, waiting for the person to come into view.
Kirk approached and looked down at Zim, "I've never had an Irken wake up after the first hour."
"I'm not like most Irkens," Zim stated via antenna speak.
"Indeed you're not," Krik replied verbally, eyeing Zims body. He reached towards Zim, causing the subdued Irken to stiffen slightly, "Relax, I'm under strict orders to return you unscathed," he said, pulling out a syringe, "I'm only going to give you enough to move your upper body, so don't get any funny ideas, " Kirk warned. Zim winced as the needle punctured his veins, but was too relieved by the fact that he could feel his arms again to complain.
Kirk helped him upright and propped some pillows under him.
"See how much easier it is when you cooperate?" Kriks voice had a tinge of reprimandation, "I should leave you paralyzed for that stunt you pulled on Earth."
"Why am I being retrieved?" Zim asked.
"You're welcome." He snapped sarcastically, "anyway, that's classified at this point in time, soldier Zim, all I'm able to say at this point in time is you're going home. The rest will have to wait until you speak to Tallest Red. Now keep it down and let's try to make this trip a pleasant one, huh?" He said as he started back towards the cockpit.
Zim's hairless eyebrows furrowed, what was so dire that the Tallests wanted HIM to go back so badly? He needed more information than that.
"Is there a war going on?" He pressed.
"Natural disaster that I must help with?"
"No, and stop asking questions." Krik pressed a button on the wall, a small doggy door like hatch opened on the opposite wall, revealing a SIR unit.
"Gir..." Zim stated forlornely.
"What?" Kirk asked.
"Nothing," Zim replied, pushing the image of his imperfect robot before it made him feel more eye spit.
The Sir unit approached Zim and saluted him, "Would you like some proper Irken attire?" He asked.
The alien looked down at himself to find he was still shrouded in nothing more than the shower curtain. Why didn't they just change him when he was asleep? Come to think of it, why was Kirk being so flexible with him? Zim had been more focused on the other Irken that he hadn't absorbed a few other facts about his situation, the first being that he wasn't in a cell, but a bedroom, and a nice one at that. Most prisoners were locked up in a drab little cell with a blanketless bed and an unloading port for when waste needed to be emptied from their packs, he was in the Irken version of the Ritz,complete with a desk, computer and television. The second was within the first fact, no cell, no additional binds or chains, he could literally traipse out of there if he wanted to.
Zim looked back up to ask Krik, but the stocky Irken was already gone.
"If you'll just lie back down," the Sir unit asked, taking Zim's silence for approval. He fired up his eyes and shot a beam at Zim's body, disintegrating the vinyl cover with ease and leaving Zim's nude form exposed, the Irken moved to cover his most private areas.
"Please remain still, sir," the Sir unit advised, "too much movement can compromise the integrity of the garment," he clapped his little metal hands together, immediately some smaller versions of himself crawled out from underneath the bed. Some used a gravity beam to raise Zim while the others began to spin thread around him like little spiders.
"Sir, why am I being retrieved?" He decided to ask, partly to see if the robot would divulge any information, partly to get his mind off the creatures tickling him with their legs.
"My master has classified that information," the Unit responded, "all other inquiries should be forwarded to him or the Almighty Tallest."
"Tallests," he corrected.
"Tallest, soldier Zim, Almighty Tallest Purple has died, please be reverent and reflective during this time."
Zim was jolted, Purle was dead?!
"How? From what?!" He demanded.
"Illness, disease contracted on a secret mission." Sir answered.
Disease? Who dies from disease anymore? The Irken empire had accumulated a medical stock pile of remedies anf cures for all ailments, Zim himself had created a cure for all human cancers on av rainy day out of sheer boredom. How in the universe did Purple fall from something so...primitive? Wait, secret mission?
"It is done," the Sir stated.
Zim looked down and smirked, "I just can't win with this body," he muttered, examining the sheer purple dress with the slits that bared his thighs, his now gloved hands traced the engravings on the magenta armor-like, sleeveless bodice with a sweet heart neckline that melded into each dip and curve. Everything about this garment was not fit for a soldier, from the gem encrusted choker and free standing shoulder plates to the tiara that had just been placed on his head.
"What is all this?" He asked the Sir unit.
"Standard grade attire, sir." He replied.
"For a soldier?"
"Certainly not, this is the traditional garb for an eli-,"
"Sir, to the cockpit, now!" Krik barked over the speaker. The little robot raced off without so much as a departing acknowledgement and disappeared into the same doggy door he'd entered in.
"Eli-what?" The curvy irken called as the Sir left. Zim sighed, so close. He supposed the continuance of inquiries was futile at this point, even if theyd remained in the room, he'd get his answers one way or another.
Zim removed the tiara and bracelets and made a mental note to find some pants when he got home.
He was going home, home to Irk. He could look at the...not negatives...in this otherwise strange situation. Irk had technologies he'd been deprived of, not to mention supplies and transportation. So it wasnt like he was stuck there. Perhaps this could be a good thing, visiting his home planet. The thought actually brought about a little excitement. How long had it been, how long had he gone without seeing her orange and green sky? Smelled the crisp scent of the Dursa flowers? How long since he'd enjoyed a frothy Xuge juice. Irk had everything he knew, everything he was. It had Irkens, his own kind, it had a long overdue conversation is his half forgotten Kin, it had his All Mighty Tallest. Irk would hold everything he needed.
Gazig at his reflection and the vast void beyond that was space, Zim's thoughts traveled home. To the one thing he wanted to think of all along, to the one thing he couldn't think of because it was too painful to being to mind.
Dib would not be on Irk, and it was in that simple fact that Earth was better.
'I...never had the opportunity to bid the Dib farewell...' he laughed at his own sorrow. There he was the terrible and mighty Zim, the very same Irken that had long since written off ANY contact, least of all humans as an unnecessary emotion, sitting in a ship headed for the home he'd often mourn for but weeping internally over the planet and boy he once hated with an unrivaled passion.
He thought back to his revelation, well, semi-revelation. Thanks to Krik he hadn't had a lot of time to process everything he'd been feeling, he...loved Dib. Yes even in his more calmed state this remained true, but now what? What did one do when they realized they were in love with someone, what exactly did love entail? Irkens didn't do love, it was as foreign a concept as people who put mayo on their hotdogs. When one found love, did one keep it? Catalogue it? And what of Dib, did Dib reciprocate these butterfeelings? There were certainly times when the situations could be percieved as possible affection, but was that the perception of a love struck Irken. Zim groaned and scratched his head, maybe...maybe it was for the best...heart aside, he had to keep in mind that his retrieval could have been worse, a lot worse. Krik could have been accompanied by a whole fleet that laid waste to the world, not that he cared for the other humans, but had Dib been with him? Who knows what they might have done.
It was his own bit of solace that the Dib was safe back on Earth.
Dib's cruiser was floating through space, dark and dead. The one irken vessel had at some point drifted off it's course pursuing Zim and was now another piece of space debris, the result of some kind of malfunction.
Figures. The one time its ability to fly was paramount to the mission is the one time the damned ship decided to crap out.
Dib couldn't blame the cruiser all that much, it was a gamble taking the badly damaged Voot on an untested drive out into the oxygenless, atmosphereless void. He should feel lucky he even got out of Earth's orbit in one piece. There was no one to blame but his own brashness.
Well he would be thinking that if he was alive.
Now there he was, a lifeless man in a lifeless ship doomed to sail the lifeless sea for all eternity.
At least he should, but fate had other plans...
The sector Dib was drifting towards was for the most part uninhabited, it was a slow churning area where rocks being pulled by the nearby planets sometimes drifted and stagnated if they broke free of gravity. It looked like a landfill of rocks and space debris. Bots from dead ships crawled along the mess like Earth roaches unaware their mission had long since been compromised. A long metal tube with large glass eye snaked along the debris, ambushing and eating the bots, it looked up and saw the voot drifting towards it. With a gasp it retracted back to the large ship that it was attached to, "Alert, mistress, alert mistress."
Within that seemingly dead ship was Dib's salvation in the form of a rediculously archaic irken, currently burdened with the task of recording her dying statement.
Grabbing the makeshift cane that had been resting on her hip, the ancient alien started towards the dead, broken, and gutted computers strewn around the room, "I've outlived technology, while whole state-of-the-art supercomputers fell victim to time, I've preserveered. You-,"
"Are a robot made from the remaining computers to keep you company and record your dying statement if the one we've been waiting for takes too long, I know I know," her C.I.R. (Crude Information Retrieval unit) cut in. The old soldier glared her good eye at her creation, then sighed, "Well CIR, this may be the day I make my final statement."
"You say that every day," CIR sneered
"This time I mean it," she replied, wheezing for effect.
She passed a button and waited, after a few moments she sighed and stomped on the floor. The tile she was trying to activated popped up, but the bed underneath failed to inflate, "Screw it." She said and rested on the un-inflated rubber. Her cyborgic body wriggled and squirmed in an attempt to make the uncomfortable mattress bearable, damned technology and it's finite potential, she should have taken some amenities from the palace before the change, not that she had any time to do anything she was complaining about.
C.I.R. Took his place by her side and pretended to take her final statement, he stopped taking his creator seriously 400 years ago. His recording mechanism flashed on his screen but his internal memory remained unused. He would stay at her bedside until his half-crazed master rambled herself to sleep, then he'd access the barely-manufactured robot pleasure site. It was just another day.
"I am dying," the Irken started, C.I.R. Rolled his digital eyes and waited for her to go on, "All these years waiting for the one to return, still we are waiting, idling by day after day, year after year, poised for the time the one would return, wait we will do until-"
"We get it!" C.I.R. Snapped, earning another death glare from his sire, "My time draws to a-."
"Irken cruiser detected." The ship sounded, both the alien and the computer turned in surprise to stare at the huge crackling screen in the center of the ship; it too was not above hallucinatingevery now and then, mistaking asteroids and abandoned space junk drifting by for an Irken ship, each time they held their breath and each time they were left disappointed.
The old Irken sprang up faster than someone 1000 years younger than she could and hobbled to the screen, her sqeedly-spooch flipped around erratically in hesitant anticipation, "Verify!"
The ship's camera activated, froze, shut down, then re-activated before seeking the anomaly within it's grid. The old Irken gasped, her one good eye gazing at something she hadn't seen on over 2,000 years. Drifting among the space rocks was indeed an Irken ship, battered and broken, but somewhat functioning.
Cir squinted his eyes at the image on the screen, "It looks...not good."
"Computer, retrieve the ship!" she ordered. A dusty metal arm popped out from the side of the ship and grabbed the cruiser as it drifted by, pulling the disabled vehicle into the cargo bay.
The old Irken rushed down to the compartment that held the cruiser, a million thoughts running in her head, was it the one she was waiting for? Or perhaps another Irken?
The second thought made her slow down, her excitement turned into wary fear. She could not forget she was loyal to the other and that made them angry, what if they found out what she'd done, where she was? She paused and pondered what he next move should be, "Computer, run diagnostic."
"Running diagnostic analysis," the electric servant opened a hatch in the roof, a large circular object similar to that of a free floating CAT scan machine ran around the outside, back and forth until the purple light on the surface of the machine lit up with a loud bing.
"Cruiser is a 7 year old model, system indicates something is within the Voot, it is not Irken and it is not moving."
"Not moving...then...open the door," she ordered.
Inside the Irken cruiser, unconscious but breathing was some sort of strange creature. Clothing as well as the large cranium indicated to Shiva that it was of higher intelligence, 'Intelligent enough to re-build a broken cruiser anyway,' she noted, eying the repairs.
"What is that thing, Mistress?" CIR poked at the seemingly deceased alien with a pole to see if it would react; it didn't.
Shiva shrugged, "I'm not sure, but stay on guard until we find out," she turned to the computer, "Gideon, can you access the Armada database? Perhaps they have information."
"Err, what's your access code again?" Gideon asked.
"Honestly, Gideon, we really need to update memory system. Access code 00Z01 Irken 1.1."
Gideon had to get around a few newly installed firewalls but was able access the information she sought.
"There's not much information available but from what I could gather it's a hyu-men; an alien from an unconquered planet in the Z? system known as Ee-arth."
"Ee-arth?" Shiva repeated, scratching her wrinkled chin, she then realized something, "Z? System? What is he doing all the way out here and how exactly did he obtain an Irken cruiser?"
"Do you think he took out the Irken soldier assigned to his planet?" CIR asked.
Shiva shook her head, "This Voot model is 7 years old, from what Gideon pulled up the Irken assigned was reporting up until a few weeks ago," she scanned the computer for any additional info.
A groaning noise made all of them jump. Gideon and CIR took cover as the hyu-men stirred. Shiva stood her ground but had her gun switched on in case the alien wasn't friendly.
Dib coughed and wheezed. Air, sweet life giving air was once again flowing through his nearly collapsed lungs. His brain finally had enough oxygen to get out of survival mode and fire up the more complex thoughts, like opening his eyes.
It was all fuzzy at first, the insides of the cruiser came into view. 'How am I breathing if the cruisers off?" he wondered, to his dismay the ship's insides were thoroughly damaged by both Earth's atmosphere and asteroids, how would he ever find Zim now?
His eyebrows furrowed in confusion, the glass hatch was off the cruiser. Looking up, he realized he was in another room of some kind. Dib sat up in alarm and was met with the business end of a laser gun.
"Whoah!" Dib yelled and brought up his hands.
"Gutne do? Gutne Irken pora?" Someone yelled. Dib braved a glance past the barrel to see an Irken glaring back at him. She was extremely old, with parts of her wrinkled and battle scarred body like her right eye and antennae replaced with crude machinery, not unlike the ship he was in. She seemed to be asking him a question but he didn't understand.
"What?" he asked.
"Jhonen?" she asked. She then turned to her robot and ordered him to do something, the robot grabbed what looked like an aux cord and plugged it into a port where her fake antennae was, Dib figured she was ordering him to download a translator. He kept still, not wanting to startle her and make the laser that was still pointed at his head go off. After a few minutes she spoke, "Who are you? Why do you have an Irken cruiser?"
"Am...am I in the Irken armada?" Dib asked.
"Answer my question first, as well as how you know about the armada, and you better answer fast." her voice was high, but threatening.
Dib would not be scared by threats, "I'll speak to none but Zim or the Tallests."
His request seemed to enrage the Irken, who jammed the laser into his temple, "You're loyal to those bastards?!"
Dib shook his head wildly, "NO, I'm just-wait...you're not loyal to them?"
...And with that simple exchange was the first bridge of trust built.
Shiva removed the barrel from Dib's head and stepped back, allowing the alien rise and exit the cruiser.
Dib stretched, sad he wouldn't fit in the ship anymore.
Shiva ordered Cir to set up some chairs and motioned for Dib to have a seat. The human complied and in turned waited to the Irken, 'How old is she?' he wondered. Records he'd stolen from Zim indicated that Irken life packs allot them what could be calculated as 40 human years, after which the packs cease functioning, this Irken looked triple that. Her ship was also so very old, everything was used and re-used to maintain some function, who exactly was this person?
"So," she said when she was finally situated, "tell me everything."
Dib sighed, "'Where do I begin?"