Note: IMPORTANT. If you opened this story up out of sheer curiosity... it is the 4TH story in a series starting with Maneem, then Mekrelmar, then Danem. IT WILL MAKE NO SENSE IF YOU READ IT OUT OF ORDER. NONE. Thank you.

...

Not much had changed in the courtroom since he had last been there, Zim noted. A few obnoxious posters had switched, and there were one or two more webs in the corners of the room. But even the judge was the same judge he had stared up at from the defendant's seat in chains. Now, however, he was seated across from the defendant's bench, staring at a lineup of the most prominent Swollen Eyeball members, each in an orange jumpsuit and chains.

He'd grown some in his years on Earth, but he still felt dwarfed by the huge, wooden witness stand he'd taken for his seat. Curse Earthlings and their all-around general heightyness. Why did most of them have to be so tall?

"Your honor," Dib's voice rang out, drawing Zim's attention back to the situation at hand. Dib had begun the recovery process well, although his new knees, shins, and shoulder implants still hurt as his body adjusted to them. Once Dib had gotten over the initial shock of needing prosthetic replacements, he'd declared it "neat" and "exciting", that he'd have an advantage in hand to hand combat with three weak spots now nearly invulnerable. Plus, he'd confided in Zim, he couldn't wait to see what gadgets he could build into the limbs when he had time.

"We've heard the account delivered by Zim," Dib stated, "As well as my own testimony concerning the accused, DarkBooty, and his own admission of the murder of Professor Membrane, the kidnapping of a young girl, and a series of inhuman experiments conducted on a visiting member of an alien race, who had been granted amnesty by this government." He paused, and Zim rolled his eyes. He could tell that, in spite of the seriousness of the situation, Dib relished the role he was playing. Everyone was listening to him, hanging on his every word. "We have submitted photographic evidence of the outcome of the surgery after Zim was placed in a regenerative device, and also video files recovered from the Eyeball Headquarters of the vivisection."

"Objection!" The defending lawyer rose. "Those tapes are the property of the Swollen Eyeball, and were removed from the premises without a warrant! Not to mention the unlawful trespass on their premises by one Dib Membrane, who broke in wielding a weapon!"

Dib rounded on the lawyer. "As the human in charge of diplomatic relations with the Irken in question, it is part of my job to make sure that Irken is safe. I received transmissions proving, without a shadow of a doubt, that his safety was threatened. The Eyeball had no right to the Irken in question."

"According to the defendants, the alien came in of his own accord."

"Only under duress, knowing that the daughter of the family that sheltered him was being held hostage." Dib's eyes narrowed. "Unless you want to try and make the point that she came of her own accord, which, by her own statement, she did not."

The defending lawyer sat, slowly.

Zim raised a hand, and Dib paused. "Zim, this isn't Skool, you're on the stand. Say what you have to say."

Lowering his hand, he let his eyes drift down the row of Swollen Eyeball leaders. DarkBooty at the farthest end, his expression unreadable as he stared at the floor. Some other head scientists, whose faces he could recall, but names he never knew. And at the far end, with a resigned look on her face, Agent Tunaghost. Tunaghost, and her stupid spiky hair, and holes in her ears since they took away her jewelry.

He lifted his hand and pointed to her. "Your honorliness," he started, "There was one Swollen Eyeball here who didn't hurt Zim. All she did was ask questions and measure times. She even tried to warn Zim, even though she was too late in finding out. And the Dib will tell you, she is the one who submitted the files to him, and the locations, that led to my escape. I would like to not see her go to prison."

Dib blinked, processing that. "Drop charges, Zim. Your honor, Zim is asking to drop all charges against one Agent Tunaghost, legal name..." He paused, glancing at Tunaghost. She shook her head. "Legal name to be released to the court in private," he concluded, "As the disclosure of her legal name could lead to backlash from other members."

The judge nodded. "Charges against this... Agent Tunaghost... will be rescinded. She will be released tomorrow. Has the accused anything else to say?"

DarkBooty lifted his head for a moment, his face wrinkled in confusion. Zim looked away, unable to meet his eyes, as the defending lawyer sighed, "Nothing further, your honor."

"In that case," the judge picked up his gavel. "The verdict against the Swollen Eyeball members, sans Agent Tunaghost, is guilty." The gavel came down with a bang. "Escort them all to their cells. Their sentence will be handed down in one week."

...

In his second governmental meeting of the day, Zim nearly twisted his own antennae off in frustration. Humans and their scarlet stickynesses that blocked off what was needed were so frustrating. With the help of Dib, Zim had put in a request for a meeting with the government agency responsible for confiscating his equipment when he had first been discovered.

He'd been listening to them go on and on about how much they'd already learned, and of course they couldn't return it because they'd just figured out how to crack the first letter of the Irken written language that labeled every piece of equipment, and maybe by the end of another five years, they could read the instructions for how to turn on the battle simulator!

Zim just stared at the man facing him. "Battle simulator." He said slowly. "Do, please, bring it here and demonstrate it to me."

The man pressed a button on the desk, talking into a speaker for a bit, before sitting back. In a moment, a small, rounded device with three spokes sticking out of it was set on the desk, resting on the spokes. Zim stared down at it. "That..." he said slowly, "That is the battle simulator?"

The man's excitement began to fade. "Well... of course... as best as we can decipher by the instructions on the side." He turned it, pointing to the Irken lettering engraved on the side.

Zim reached over, mutely, and turned it so the spokes faced upward.

"Hey, don't touch that!" The man protested.

Ignoring him, Zim toggled one of the spokes, pulling it back. The device thrummed to life, hovering an inch over the desk. Turning it slightly, he toggled the second spoke, and shoved the device off the desk.

"Be careful with that!" The man dove for the device. It dropped down, hovering an inch over the floor, and began zooming around the room. In its path, the carpet lightened, as years of dirt and grime began disintegrating, attracted to the surface of the device as it rolled around and around, hovering and zooming.

Zim turned back to the man, who watched in disbelief. "A battle simulator." He repeated, slowly. "You are so very—"

"Zim." Dib said warningly.

"...un-knowledgable, about Irken technology." Zim rubbed his face. "Listen. I need my technology back. I need my base back. Obviously, as much as the Earth authorities would enjoy keeping Zim in one piece, I don't think they are always capable of doing so. Or keeping my family safe, for that matter. I think that I have proven VERY well that I am in no way interested in destroying this planet, or its people, even when they turn against me." He glared at the man. "But when they do turn against me, and people I care about, I need a way to make sure the damage they intend to do is contained to a minimum. Therefore, I want back every piece of technology confiscated by the government when I was first discovered, as well as the ones found at the Swollen Eyeball Headquarters."

"You can't just expect—"

"If you comply," Zim continued, as if the man hadn't spoken, "Zim will teach a representative of your choosing how to operate, build, and replicate any piece of Irken technology that they so obviously do not understand how to USE."

Dib winced, but Zim just picked up the vacuum device, and held it over the trash can. Its surface was much darker and rounder than it had been before. He toggled the third spoke, and an inch-thick layer of filth fell off the surface, into the trash can.

"Do we have a deal?"