A/N: Yay another chapter! Keep leaving those reviews! Nothing makes me happier or more motivated! You guys may want to fight for my attention with this story because I've got a lot of drawing and comics I've been working on. Well anyway hope you enjoy the chapter!


Chapter 23 – Searching

"Stop squirming, puke sister. This space is already too narrow for Zim."

"Fine, if you stop switching like that, I don't know who I'm talking to."

"You speak to Zim. I switch nothing."

"Yeah whatever, but maybe some stealth would be better now, hmm?" Gaz pointed her finger between Zim's eyes to startle him, before looking back through the vent. In the hallway below them, the NasaPlace workers were rushing back and forth. She caught a few words like "meteor" and "park" but other than that it was just a bunch of science jargon. Maybe Dib or their Dad would have understood it, but she'd never really been into that kind of stuff. "The computers which connect to the SETA satellites are in that room there," She stuck her finger out just enough to point down the hall.

Zim nodded. "And you're sure this Bill-man will be connected to it?"

"No matter how much you pester me I won't be feeding your irrational obsessions."

"Oh I'M the irrational one?! All these years living with that man and you don't even open your eyes to the type of experiments he does. You're blind Mothman."

"Enough Bill! Nasa Place and my father aren't doing anything like that! If you keep this up I'll report you to the agency! Leave me and my family alone!"

"Believe what you want. But I'll find the proof. I know what's hiding in those satellites."

Gaz sighed, "I'm sure. Now how do we… what are you doing?" Zim was taking the screws out of the grate. "Wait!" she hissed, "there are still guys down there. At least wait for the hall to clear."

Zim shook his head and smiled, "I can sneak into there without being seen. I'll be faster on my own."

Gaz did manage to convince him to let the hallway empty. The second it did, he gingerly snuck out and scuttled across the ceiling. Five large computers were in the next room. One of them was showing a picture of red dirt in a desolate wasteland, two were showing random star clusters, and a third was filled with rows and rows of type. "Let's see what's on you." Zim whispered, plugging into the computer. His Irken chords didn't quite fit but they were close enough for him to alter the wires to connect.

His mind flashed through the data held on the computer. He came across several outgoing and incoming connections but all were very obvious and not likely to be what he needed. There was an outdated connection to something called a Floppy drive, and he found a long list of music files. Wherever this connection was hidden it was really discrete.

"Hey."

Zim's connection to the computer broke as a hand grabbed his shoulder. All his pak extensions were out and pointed at the assailant, but he let out a swear of annoyance. "I thought you were going to wait in the vent?"

"I got tired of waiting."

Zim sighed and restored the connection. No I haven't found it. Only halfway through the data. …wait…" His pak transmitted a low hum, almost beyond the range of hearing. It was a one way stream of data. Things were going out but no signals were coming back to tell it what to send. "There found it.

"This area's off-limits. Who are you?" Gaz jumped in front of Zim to hide him from sight. The security guard stood at the door; his gun in hand.

"We're umm…" She looked to Zim. His eyes were closed. He didn't even hear what was happening. "We're on a school tour." He had his wig. Maybe they could get away with saying he's just a normal kid like Dib tried before. Maybe…

"You shouldn't be in here. Hey. What's he doing?" The guard walked forward looking at Zim.

"It's nothing! He's fine! He's just… feeling sick." The guard's eyes narrowed suspiciously. Gaz nervously stepped back. "Any time now Zim."

Zim sped through the connection. Almost, just a little further.

The guard stepped towards them. "You two need to come with me."

"Zim!"

"DUCK!"

Gaz dropped to the floor as Zim's pak leg swung out and struck the guard in the head, rendering him unconscious. Zim grabbed Gaz and took off. The two of them were long gone by the time anyone realized they'd been there.

XXX

"Agent Mothman, it's good to see you again."

Dib smiled, and grasped Agent Darkbooties's hand. "Hopefully this will be less painful than last time, eh John?" Agent Darkbootie smiled at the informality. Even after Dib had left the organization, the two had seen each other several times while Dib finished up the last of his father's projects with NasaPlace. "Mind telling me what in the universe is going on?"

"I would like to but first I need to confirm some things." Dib nodded; he had expected as much. There was no way he'd avoid being interrogated. Agent Darkbootie gestured to the elevator which would take them from the cover office down to the Network's main building, and the group stepped inside. "Well to start with, what is his or her name?"

"His name is Zim. He's Irken."

Darkbootie nodded, "Yes we've known his species for the past several days." He laughed lightly, "I'll admit it's been tough keeping track of you all. Fleeing from the hospital like that? You had me scared for a bit there."

"You know if you hadn't sounded so serious before and had gotten right to the point, then none of this would have happened." Dib unconsciously put his hand over the spot he had been stabbed. Darkbootie shrugged.

"Force of habit. Plus back then we didn't realize how serious the situation was."

"And exactly how serious is that?"

"You remember your old teacher right?"

Dib nodded, "Yeah. I heard from a source that Bill was involved." The elevator door opened to a long hallway. The grey walls were lit like a science lab. The sounds of their footsteps echoed down the corridor.

"Always with your mysterious sources. Almost as many as you, eh Kelpie?" Kelpie nodded when addressed but said nothing. Darkbootie gave a deep throaty laugh, "She's been trying to fill your shoes since you left." He always put people on the spot like that, but still Dib felt bad for his old friend.

"If it's alright… I'd like to just get to the point here."

"Sir, I'm going back now," Agent Kelpie said excusing herself. She turned down a hallway and out of sight. Dib watched her go before following Darkbootie into one of the computer rooms. Most of the light came from the large LG screen across the wall.

"So want to fill me in?"

The main chair turned automatically for Darkbootie, who began pulling things up on the screen the moment he reached the keyboard. "Long story really. Since you're escape from the hospital we've had reports of your robot walking around down town, a break-in at NasaPlace, and a second Irken vessel landing in approximately the same location as the first ship, though thank god it was a smoother landing."

"More Irkens on planet? Why?"

"Not sure yet. After they escaped with your girlfriend-"

"Zita is with them?!"

"Ha. Normally you get upset when I call Miss Zita by that title."

Dib glared at him, "Shut up. Where the hell were your agents?"

"Apparently Bill attacked them."

"BILL'S THERE?!"

Darkbootie waved a hand, "He was but Zita is with the Irken or irkens from the second ship" A map of the city appeared on the screen. "Anywhere you think she might take them?" Dib shook his head. "No where at all?"

"Maybe back to the motel but once she sees the cops there she'll get them out of there." He thought about it then grumbled, "If she's even in control of the situation." Please be safe Zita… "What do you need? I'll do anything to help find her."

Darkbootie's teeth glint bright in the dark room, "I was hoping you'd say that." The chair turned around, "The first thing we-"

"DARKBOOTIE! MOTHMAN!" Agent Tunaghost burst through the door, followed closely by Agent Kelpie. "That M kid is gone! He disappeared from the hospital."

Dib clenched his fist, his nails digging into his hand. "Damn you Bill…. Damn you. All because of that thing… "All because of that, he just wouldn't let it go." The others watched Dib in silence. He had that face of knowing something he wouldn't tell. Even with that habit of talking out loud, they never got to hear everything he was thinking. "While I want to make sure Zita and M aren't in danger, my sister may have taken Zim to try and find Bill."

"Why would you sister go look for Bill?" Tunaghost asked.

Dib stared at the floor. It was something he should have reported long ago. He knew the whole time, but because he was soft for his teacher… Whatever happened now was completely his fault. Why did I let him go that day…

Bill threw down the magazine article in front of Dib for the fifth time. "We need to talk. Your father is creating that monstrosity with no regard for public safety."

Dib sighed and ran his hand through his hair looking at the new Inquisitor article, "For the last time Bill, you know I respect you. You taught me everything I know. But this… This is ridiculous. I think that TunaGhost is right. You're being paranoid."

"I am NOT paranoid! You've seen the schematics for this thing. You know as well as I do what it's capable of."

Dib bit his lip; sure he knew. "But it's not meant for harm. This will be a serious technological advancement."

"That blasted machine is going to kill us! The Irkens will see it as a threat!" Even the hardened Bill jumped when Dib slammed shut his research volume.

"The Irkens?! Again with the Irkens. There hasn't been a recorded Irken on planet for decades. Not since that treaty-"

"That treaty was a flimsy scrap of paper to those monsters." Dib scoffed and leaned back. Bill wagged his finger at him back in his old teacher habits, "If I didn't teach you anything I taught you how precarious our place in this universe is."

"Bill I've had enough of this. The unveiling is tomorrow and I have a lot of paperwork to finish if the network is going to let my dad's project off the ground."

Bill slammed his fist on the desk, "Have you ever thought of WHY they're thinking of grounding his work?"

Dib sighed and pushed away from the documents on his desk, "No matter how much you pester me I won't be feeding your irrational obsessions."

"Oh I'M the irrational one?! All these years living with that man and you don't even open your eyes to the type of experiments he does. You're blind Mothman."

"Enough Bill! Nasa Place and my father aren't doing anything earth threatoning! If you keep this up I'll report you to the agency! Leave me and my family alone!"

"Believe what you want. But I'll find the proof. I know what's hiding in those satellites."

"THERE IS NOTHING IN THOSE SATILITES!" Dib stood and slammed his hands on his desk. "NOW I WANT YOU OUT!" A vein was pulsing in his forehead. Agent Mothman had always been known for being levelheaded. Even his old teacher was surprised, but not half as surprised as the squeak from the other side of the office door.

Dib pushed his chair back and walked to the door. "I thought you were in bed already."

Gaz glanced away putting on her cold uncaring façade. "So I need permission to get some water? Besides I could hear your stupid mouth from upstairs." She drank from her water and pressed a few buttons on her Game Slave; no reason to tell anyone that it was paused.

Dib smiled lightly. "Sorry. I'll keep it down. Is Dad back yet?"

"How should I know?"

"Alright. Goodnight."

"Be quiet." Gaz grumbled and wandered off. She knew she wouldn't be hearing any more of that conversation. Another one of those stupid cases with his stupid agency. Well at least it left her more time for gaming, she thought as she headed back up the stairs to her room."

"Leave now Bill. My father's work has nothing to do with you."

Bill's eyes were still on the door. He pushed his sunglasses up on his nose. "Fine. But don't say I didn't warn you. When the Irkens come, I'll be the one to finish what you started." The door slammed and the room was quiet.

Dib looked back at his work but his eyes clouded and he could barely even make out the project's initials, P.E.G. written in bold on the top of the page. "Dad, you had better be right about this one."

Dib sighed as the memory faded. He looked up at the worried faces of his friends and fellow agents. That's right… he was an agent again whether he liked it or not. "My sister probably went after him because he killed our father."