A/N: Been a while since I've done one of these things. And there's a bit of a story behind how I came up with this idea. I was going to do a series of "end of the world" style scenes involving the various IZ cast members, and while I was going over potential scenarios, I somehow ended up thinking about the ramifications of the ending of "Planet Jackers", which in turn got me thinking about several other cases that should have brought the series to a screeching halt, if not for negative continuity or executive meddling. And I thought that I could probably get some decent dark AU work out of examining the potential outcome of those events.

So, enjoy what might end up being the first of several such looks at what could have been.

Disclaimer: Invader Zim and all related characters belong to Jhonen Vasquez, Nickelodeon, and Oni Press.

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Scrap #6: Reality Ensues #1

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Planet Jackers

Zim had succeeded. He'd fought off the Planet Jackers, and saved the Earth from being thrown into the sun, all without them being any the wiser to his outwitting them. Now he could strut triumphantly back to Earth, lick his wounds, and then get back to the all-important task of ensuring that he was the one who brought about the destruction of Earth and the humans living on it.

He needn't have bothered.

After all, the Earth had been dragged light years off course, and left drifting in orbit around a completely different sun. The sudden earthquakes from the planet's movements had already caused plenty of damage before this point. But now, on top of that, thanks to the new orbit, the Earth found itself a lot closer to its new star; already, ambient temperatures were skyrocketing, blanketing even areas in the middle of winter with massive heat waves.

There was also the rather glaring fact that the Moon had crashed into the planet. The Jackers' Dyson Sphere that had been containing it had kept it from shattering and sent it safely back into orbit, but the impact of several hundred billion tons of rock had still done its damage — the largest earthquakes ever recorded leveled mountains and cities, and massive tsunamis swept inland, wiping away coastal areas and changing the visible shapes of landmasses. Billions died, and this was just the beginning.

Over the next several months, human civilization all but collapsed. What little infrastructure had survived the catastrophes was unable to care for all the wounded and displaced, and the waves of destruction and overall climate changes had killed off countless food supplies, livestock and crops both, leaving nowhere near enough to feed the still sizable global population. Before long, most of the remaining population centers had been torn apart by angry mobs and rival warlords fighting over scraps of food, water, and medicine.

And through it all, Zim sat within his still-intact base, observing everything with mixed emotions.

On the one hand, watching the humans destroy each other was hilarious. On the other, the fact that he'd had nothing to do with it was aggravating. So as such, he was rather torn on how to react — sit back and let them be destroyed, or once again save them so that he could be the one to destroy them?

Paralyzed by indecision, and focused on the larger picture, Zim was blind to what was happening much nearer by. The city around him had survived the initial disasters mostly intact, and under the guidance and resources of Professor Membrane and his company, had managed to keep hold of stability and civilization. It was by necessity a ragtag and borderline dictatorial society, but it was still a better alternative to the chaos of the scavengers and warlords outside the city whom Membrane's security forces constantly struggled to keep at bay.

And then there was the matter of Dib. He and Gaz had survived the extensive disasters and crises through a combination of luck and the benefits of being Membrane's children. After all, while the Professor might not be the world's greatest parent, he at least had the scientific understanding that he had to preserve his biological lineage (especially in light of the ego boosting fact that he alone was keeping the last semblance of human civilization afloat, so obviously his genes were worth preserving).

While Gaz was content to stay in the survival bunker at the heart of Membrane's command center, whittling away her days in her surviving games and what was probably the last pizzas on Earth, Dib dedicated himself to more practical actions. He aided in the organization and distribution of food and medical supplies, personally helped in the building of shelters and restoration of surviving infrastructure, and even helped in the designing and building of weapons for the defense of the city.

As a result of this, Dib found himself in an utterly unprecedented situation — people actually liked him. His determination and hard work towards being the protector of Earth, now taking the form of keeping as many people alive as he could, was enough to make people forget their previous views of him as crazy and delusional. Now, they saw him as an altruistic, selfless hero, who worked around the clock to provide for his fellow men and women. Needless to say, this was quite a turnaround for Dib, and something that took quite a while for him to wrap his head around.

But when it did, that was when things really changed. Dib had been so busy with just trying to help people survive, that he had practically forgotten that Zim even existed. And then one day, while overseeing the rebuilding of a power plant, he happened to spot GIR wandering the rubble, apparently completely oblivious to the devastation around him. At that sight, Dib's mind had suddenly snapped back to its previous setting, and he'd quickly chased after the robot, eventually following him back to Zim's base.

Despite everything that had happened, Dib was surprised to find that Zim's security still completely sucked. He was able to just walk right in, and he was able to take pictures of everything, including a very surprised Zim as he emerged from the lower levels. He had then run for his life, camera clutched to his chest, as he was chased off the property by Zim's gnomes. Zim, as was his nature, panicked at the thought of being exposed, though this time it was tempered somewhat by the impression he was under that all the other humans would be too distracted by their fight for survival in this new world to listen to Dib's usual rantings.

This would prove to be a disastrous mistake.

Zim was making preparations to sneak into Dib's house (not even aware he wasn't living there anymore), when an angry mob appeared outside his base. As it turned out, due to the new heroic status, not to mention the fact that some sort of exterior force was clearly responsible for what had happened, people were much more willing to believe in the supposedly crazy things Dib kept saying. And as such, not even the ever skeptical Professor Membrane was willing to dismiss out of hand the photographic evidence his son now presented. The fact that it also provided a convenient scapegoat for all the horrors that had been inflicted on the world was also a factor.

It was ironic, really, that after all the times Dib had been blamed for things he had nothing to do with over the course of his private war with Zim, that he would finally gain vindication by exposing Zim over something the Irken was completely innocent of. Not that either Dib or Zim was considering this, as the former's mob clashed with the latter's security.

To call it a battle would be a vast exaggeration. The mob was mostly composed of civilians reduced to a ragtag skeleton of existence by society's collapse, armed with whatever they could scramble together — guns, knives, clubs, bats, Molotov cocktails, even just random pieces of debris they'd picked up on the way to Zim's base. As such, they were in no way prepared to properly fight against the Invader's defenses; many were cut down by the lawn gnomes alone. It was only when Membrane's heavily-armed security forces arrived that the tide was turned.

Soon, the gnomes were so much smoking scrap being stomped beneath the mob's feet, as they moved a makeshift battering ram into place and proceeded to go to work on breaking down the base's front door. It took longer than any of them would have liked, but soon it was shattered, and the mob poured into Zim's living room, where they were promptly set upon by GIR, the Robo-Parents, and several weapon installations that descended from the ceiling.

The robots did surprisingly well, especially considering they weren't even trying. The Robo-Parents seemed to think they were hosting a dinner party, and kept trying to feed and entertain their "guests", which apparently meant tossing around everything not bolted down, including the attackers themselves. And as for GIR, he was zooming around, treating the whole thing like a game, only doing any damage by accident, like knocking people over or grabbing and shaking their weapons at the wrong moment.

In the chaos of all the fighting, Dib slipped away from the rest of the crowd and dived down one of the passageways to the lower levels of the base. He ran from one end to another, searching for his nemesis, and eventually found him in the hanger bay, prepping the Voot Cruiser for an emergency takeoff. It seemed that, delusional megalomaniac or not, Zim was still just bright enough to realize when he was in a situation he didn't have a chance of winning, and was trying to make a tactical retreat.

What followed could have been called a final showdown between archenemies, but that would be generous. In truth, it was simply two people who hated each other and were finally placed in a situation where they could settle matters between them once and for all. It was a brawl, pure and simple, punches and kicks flying between them, and even an excessive use of biting thrown in for good measure.

It's impossible to say who would have won in the end if it had just been left up to the pair of them. But the fight was interrupted by the arrival of one of the Membrane security troopers, having wandered further down the base as parts of the mob broke off from the main fight with Zim's robots in search of anything else to vent their anger on. Spotting the alien menace that they'd all come to confront, the soldier froze in shock for a moment, then whipped out his laser rifle and fired, hitting Zim square in the side.

It wasn't a fatal wound, but it became clear in an instant that it was debilitating enough that Zim wouldn't be able to fight anymore. And for that brief moment, a battered and exhausted Dib allowed himself to bask in the thought of finally achieving victory. More to the point, he thought of all the good that could be done with the technology at the Irken's disposal. They might even be able to undo some of the global devastation, restore human civilization to some semblance of what it had been before the planet had been moved.

Dib was so caught up in the thought of what he could do with Zim's technology, that he didn't notice Zim himself weakly raising an arm, a bracelet-like device sliding out of the sleeve. It was only when Zim spat a final, angry Irken curse in Dib's general direction that he turned his focus back to the Invader, just in time to see him press the button on the bracelet.

That was the last thing Dib ever saw, as Zim's quantum bomb self-destruct detonated. Within seconds, the entire base had been vaporized, along with the rest of the cul-de-sac and several surrounding blocks, leaving nothing but a glass-lined crater.

In the days that followed, Dib would be martyred by the remnant of the city's population, who viewed him as humanity's lone champion against the alien villain who had destroyed the world. Not that they had much of a chance to venerate him much, as the loss of so much of both the work and security forces meant that the fragile society that they had already been reduced to nearly collapsed totally, through a combination of having almost no one to do all the work needed to serve as civilization's foundation and the external warlords and scavengers trying to take advantage of the now vastly undefended city.

And in the end, even all of this was utterly irrelevant. For even while all this drama played out, the Planet Jackers who had stolen Earth to begin with reached their home system and realized that the planet they'd attempted to drag to their dying sun was gone. Just as quickly realizing that that annoying Irken must have stolen it from them, they began backtracking their path to find it. And when they did, the nearly extinct human race didn't even notice as their world was once again encapsulated and dragged off to their doom.

But then, it didn't really matter whether they noticed or not, did it? The world had been doomed from the moment the Jackers first grabbed it. It had just been a matter of time.

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A/N: Wow. Like I said, pretty dark. Well, hope you all enjoyed it anyway.

Until next time, read and review!