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The Girl With The Irken Tattoo

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The summer heat was dreadful up in the Northeast. It was a dry heat that wasn’t nice to anyone, leaving people with burned skin and the want for winter. In the small town of New Haven, there were only two places that could give its townspeople solace from the heat. The swimming pools were the first choice, with its chemical and piss laden water that provided only temporary relief for children who wanted to be outside and have fun. For those who couldn’t stand the chlorine smell or the blinding rays of the sun, they found shelter indoors. The library was a perfect getaway for people who couldn’t afford the swimming pools, a lovely and quiet air-conditioned establishment with a wide collection of books and a handful of computers. It wasn’t as popular as the swimming pool, but it was the best option for a lone girl who couldn’t stand the alternative option - staying at home.

 

Dakota Paige made sure to catch the best spot in the library every day, which was a very lonely alcove near the back where the reference books sat. No one really went there unless they were two young couples who wanted privacy to make out, otherwise, it was mostly the young woman who sat alone at a table with her own computer open, displaying whatever she was working on at the time. She was there from the opening of the library until its closing, preferring to sit and enjoy the silence than staying at home where there was no such thing.

 

Dakota lived alone, and one could think that by living alone you’d be allowed plenty of time to your own, except that it wasn’t the case. She lived in an apartment complex with its own cast of characters that could earn its own reality TV show. The neighbors on her left that just had a brand new child, the neighbors across from her that loved to argue and then later have just as loud make up sessions, the neighbors on her right that were two old people that had their television up way too loud because they couldn’t hear, and the neighbor one floor above her that loved to practice their drums all day because they were in a band. The only reason she stayed where she was because the rent was fantastic for what she earned and she felt independent living on her own.

 

So, when Dakota wasn’t working, she found solace in the quietest place possible, with a bag that rivaled any overnight bag. She carried everything with her, her laptop, her tablet, her phone, some emergency items, and the lunch she bought on the way to the library itself.

 

She couldn’t stand the noise, despite how much she adored her apartment. The noise muddled her thoughts and put her on the verge of panic attacks. Living in that place was hard, but it was better than nothing. Five years ago she wasn’t well enough to live on her own, just barely getting through the day without breaking out into anxiety. She was a far cry from how she was, once upon a time, when she was stronger and more self-sufficient. She had big dreams back then, big wishes that she wanted to make possible. Now, however, she was lucky if she could escape the horrible reality that she was living for at least a couple of hours with a good book. There wasn’t anything exciting about her reality, or anything interesting. Dakota was unhappy with how her life turned out. There wasn’t any sort of adventure, nothing nearly amazing. With all the books she read, all the stories she came across, she often wondered what it meant to be a main character in an exciting story, instead of the lone twenty-something recovering from a traumatic accident with severe anxiety and depression, with a huge obsession with distracting herself from the dour reality that was her real life. Reading was her only escape from her world, taking her into better places that she craved to be a part of.

 

Her lamenting was interrupted by a book dropping, a voice breaking the serene silence.

 

“Shit.” She said aloud, a punkish blonde who had faded blue hair and a healthy amount of tattoos. Who would’ve thought that the town librarian looked like a rockstar, but Everett never liked looking plain. She was in her thirties and wore what she wanted, successfully gathering dirty looks from the clique of soccer moms who thought that a mother of two shouldn’t be outside with eyebrow piercings and a sleeve of tattoos on both arms.

 

Dakota liked Everett. The woman made the town a little bit more exciting just by defying the social norm. She was an activist as well as a librarian, and often tried to lure Dakota away from her job at the supermarket to work at the library. Since, according to Everett, she practically lived there anyway.

 

Dakota couldn’t leave her job, as the employees there were like her extended family, albeit a dysfunctional one.

 

“You know what time it is?” Everett’s voice broke Dakota out of her thoughts, the woman smiling down at her. The books that she had earlier were gone and her hands were now in her back pockets.

 

“Almost closing, I know.” Dakota said softly, frowning a little.

 

“If you worked here you could actually be the last to leave, you know. Close up, maybe stay a little longer...” She smirked just slightly.

 

“I would move into the loft upstairs if you offered, but you know that.” She said gravely, starting to reluctantly pack her things.

 

“Dakota, you know well as I do that the loft is unlivable. It’s just a storage space, hun.” Everett said sadly, which was true. The loft had no windows or electricity, was stuffy during the summer and freezing during the winter. It was for decorations and other boxes full of books. No living person could call that place a home.

 

Dakota didn’t really care if the place wasn’t livable, she’d gladly take it over the apartment with no semblance of quiet. She nodded, smiling sadly and finally getting up with her bag in her hands. It was time to take that long walk home, fifteen minutes of a walk over to the gas station for food and back to her apartment building to turn in to the night. She bid Everett a good night and stepped out of the library, facing the clear dark skies of the last recesses of dusk, the town around her in a lull of silence. It was the time of night where the town was transitioning into the evening, wherein everyone was at home and spending time with their family or somewhere else indoors, and not a soul was outside roaming the streets.

 

It was a time that was perfect for admiring the night sky, and Dakota found her usual sitting place on a bench uphill to watch the stars gleam to life. The town was small enough for the constellations to shine through for anyone who wanted to gaze upon them, and the woman traced the big dipper with her fingertip with a smile on her face. Tonight there was supposed to be a meteor shower. Dakota was lost in the stars, making out the constellations surrounding the big dipper and counting the start of the falling stars. Even when her reality was boring, she was grateful for the natural beauty of the universe. With a small hum she shut her eyes, making a wish on one of the falling stars like how she used to make as a child living outside the city. Memories brought her back to the smaller girl with wide green eyes and unruly black hair, her mother pointing out the stars above her while her father told her which formations were what.

 

“Make a wish.” Her mother said.

 

“What?” The girl questioned.

 

“The stars are for wishing.” Her mother insisted, “You close your eyes and wish on the stars.”

 

Dakota stared up above her, wide eyes full of curiosity. “What do I wish for?”

 

Her mother chuckled, “Anything you want.”

 

The child looked amazed, shutting her eyes tight.

 

“I wish for a bike!”

 

“Nope.” Her father laughed, “It won’t come true, you told us what you wished for.”

 

Once upon a time when she didn’t know any better. Back when Dakota didn’t know about the harshness of life and how it wasn’t filled with magic. She still wished upon the stars, even though she was faced with the reality of those wishes falling on deaf ears. She wished because she still had hope, that one day, those small wants would be heard, and her life would change in some small way.

 

When she opened her eyes again, she was met with a bright star. A star that wasn’t there before she shut her eyes. She smiled at that, because the star was twinkling, as if it heard her. It had to be some kind of sign, she wondered, how that star was so bright and…it just became red?

 

The star was getting bigger? Dakota blinked, confused. It was suddenly turning red and increasing in size. She quickly got up, because if she was right, the star was dropping right where she was. She kept her eyes on the star, trying to move away from it, she was nearly downtown when a faint sound followed the falling star, and the sound was becoming louder as it rapidly fell towards the ground. Suddenly, Dakota wasn’t running away from the star, but now she was running towards it, as the red hot rock hurled a block away and collided into the empty park. Dakota ran as fast as she could to beat anyone else who heard the collision, her heart pounding the closer she got towards the smokey area.

 

She scrambled to grab her phone, almost dropping it as she opened the screen and quickly fumbled for the camera. She had to film this, she needed evidence. She began to record at the foot of the collision, stepping closer to the actual rock itself, the red color having died out and turned into a cobalt blue. Her hands were shaking as she stepped closer, trying to keep a good image of the rock she was filming. Her mouth went dry as she stopped at the small crater, instincts telling her to run but curiosity begging her to move forward. She used one hand to steady her as she stepped into the crater, sliding down along the edge and stopping. The rock wasn’t a rock at all, as the cobalt blue was metal and not stone. In the center of the metal rock was something that reflected her and her camera flash. She leaned in to look beyond the reflection, pressing her hand over the glass and finding that it wasn’t hot at all. She cried out when another noise broke through the eerie silence, the glass rolling back and exposing…

 

Dakota’s heart was beating faster than before, and she knew that she was having a panic attack. Her head felt light and she was having trouble breathing. In front of her eyes was something green, a living being that was staring back at her with its own red eyes. When it moved she suddenly lost her footing, crying out again as she fell back against the crater walls. She dropped her phone to clutch her chest, the world becoming blurry as her panic took over. Her body decided to shut down then, and everything became black.

 


 

 

 

When Dakota came to, she thought she would be in a hospital. No, she was somewhere else, a nearly familiar room she remembers decorating, full of obscure plush toys and photos of familiar people. The one photo that stood out was a woman with blonde hair and green streaks, wearing a steampunk costume with two children on each side, both with their hair contrasting colors of orange and purple, dressed like crayons of the same color. A cute Halloween photo that Dakota had taken before.

 

“She’s awake!” One of the children called from the door after poking her head in, her hair now an amazing pink. She was older than the Halloween photo.

 

Dakota knew she had passed out, but she never thought she would be in Everett’s house. She stayed in the bed as the woman came up the stairs with her husband, a man with dark hair and just as many tattoos. The man stayed at the door as Everett stepped in, looking relieved. “Oh, honey. You had us for a scare.”

 

Dakota gradually sat up, “How long was I out?” She questioned.

 

“Two hours. Matthew found you and called me, we thought it would be better than the alternative.”

 

Dakota didn’t say anything, relieved that she wasn’t at the hospital. But that was bugging her, as she should have been at the hospital...

 

“Why am I here?” Dakota asked quietly.

 

Everett pursed her lips together, looking back at Matthew. The man took a deep breath and steadied himself.

 

“When I found you, you weren’t alone.” He began, moving his hands to gesture. “Now, don’t freak out, but there was this big green looking....fuck...alien? I totally think it was an alien, but Everett doesn’t believe me. All I know was that it was creeping itself over your body so I grabbed my shotgun and chased it off before the rest of the hillbillies came. I thought you’d be better off explaining what you were doing there to us and not people who probably don’t believe in that shit.” He scratched his head for a moment, thinking. “That shit...that large UFO looking thing, that’s why you were there?”

 

Dakota’s eyes brightened, nodding quickly. “I was watching the meteor shower and one of the stars just came barreling down…and...I...I don’t know, I was so excited so I ran after it.”

 

“Yeah, I saw that coming home in my truck.” He nodded.

 

Dakota smiled slightly, “I never...thought it would happen? So I took out my phone and filmed it, but I noticed what it really was and I think I had a massive panic attack, then I saw the green thing with the red eyes—“

 

“Wait!” Everett jumped, “You are shitting me! You both saw a green alien? I thought Matthew was lying about that!”

 

“Why would I lie about a giant green alien trying to attack Dakota?” Matthew shouted, “It was fucking huge!”

 

“I can show you the video!” Dakota got up quickly, “It’s on my phone—“ she stopped then. “My phone, where’s my phone?” She looked around for her bag, “Where’s…”

 

Matthew quickly left for a moment before dragging in her bag, “What the fuck do you carry in this thing?” He breathed.

 

Dakota ignored him, clamoring for her bag and taking out everything inside the bag. The only thing that wasn’t in there was her phone, and she began to panic again. “It—it’s not here—“

 

Everett was next to her in a heartbeat, “Calm down hun, there’s no use in getting in a tizzy…”

 

Dakota forced herself to take a deep breath and think, her hands moving to her tablet quickly. “It’ll be on the cloud.” She said then, “Everything I film and shoot goes up to the cloud immediately.”

 

“Thank Jesus for iPhones.” Matthew commented sarcastically, stepping closer and watching her start it up.

 

The room fell silent as Dakota found the video, the other two watching the video that was taken before she had passed out.

 

The one to break the silence and have everyone jump was the second daughter, who breathed in sharply at the sight of the alien and cried out “Holy shit!”

 

“Holy shit indeed,” Everett sighed out.

 

“In this fucking town. IN THIS FUCKING TOWN!” Matthew stomped his foot, looking pissed off. “Christ almighty I’ve been wanting something meaningful to happen in this town and now something meaningful has happened!” He grabbed Dakota’s shoulders and shook her slightly. “You’re so fucking lucky, kid!”

 

Dakota teared up then, hugging her tablet. “Yeah…” She smiled up at Matthew and Everett, and over at Abby, the second daughter with green hair.

 

“Dude, that could make tons of money!” The daughter said then.

 

“No.” Matthew said quickly, “No one here is going to believe any of this, it’s best for everyone,” He looked directly at his child, “If we keep it to ourselves.” He reached down to grab Dakota’s tablet quickly, “Can I see this for a sec?”

 

Dakota let him grab the tablet, trusting Matthew as he took it out of the room and left her and Everett alone. Abby didn’t really like her father’s decision, however, looking to her mother.

 

“So I can’t tell my friends that we saw an alien at the park?” She asked honestly.

 

Everett sighed, petting her daughter’s head, “Sorry, sweetie. If we lived anywhere else, it’d be different, but there’s people that live in this town that aren’t…as progressive, as we are.”

 

“What happened?” The first daughter popped her head back in, blinking owlishly.

 

“Tabby, Dakota filmed a real live alien!” Abby said aloud, “Daddy said we couldn’t tell anyone.”

 

“Well, duh.” Tabby answered simply, “Not everyone will be cool with it, dork.”

 

“Why not!” Abby went defensive, frowning at her sister.

 

“Dad says most of the people who live here are old hillbillies that don’t know shit, that’s why.”

 

Dakota covered her mouth as she laughed, Everett grinning proudly.

 

“That makes sense…” Abby said eventually, looking dejected at the answer. After that, Matthew walked back in with Dakota’s tablet, handing it over to her with a grin.

 

“Made sure to back up that video on another drive, just in case.” He said then, winking. “I don’t trust cloud storage for shit, so I have it on a thumb drive.”

 

Dakota smiled, “Thank you, Mr. Drake.”

 

“Dakota, we’ve been over this.” The man frowned. “It’s always been Matthew. I’m not your teacher anymore, besides, Mr. Drake makes me sound old.”

 

“You are old.” Tabby said then.

 

Matthew ignored his daughter and smiled at Abby, “You’re my favorite, Abigail. You know that?”

 

Abby giggled, “Even if I agree with Tabitha?”

 

“I have no daughters.” The man finally decided, folding his arms and ignoring their combined giggles.

 

Dakota began laughing as well, upsetting Matthew even further, the man shooing away his laughing children and his grinning wife. “How about I take you home?” He asked Dakota, patting her back. “It’s been a long night and you need your rest.”

 

Dakota nodded, “That sounds good, I just hope the guy upstairs doesn’t want to practice tonight.” She grimaced when she said it, groaning a little while packing her bag back up.

 

Matthew didn’t say a word, knowing full well the woman’s living arrangement and the apartment complex she lived in. It was a horrible piece of shit building with low rent for a reason. But despite Dakota’s situation, she was so proud of her own apartment. She lived there for three years and was dreadfully afraid of going anywhere else. Loud as her neighbors may be, she took it in stride. Besides, Dakota already knew his opinion on her living arrangements.

 

Matthew lead her downstairs and grabbed his keys before leaving the house, unlocking the massive truck in the driveway and waiting for Dakota to get in and buckle up, laughing slightly when Dakota had some trouble getting into the seat.

 

“When did this truck get so high?” Dakota laughed, shutting the door and leaning back.

 

“Everett still wouldn’t let me buy a monster truck, so we compromised.” He said defensively, pulling out of the driveway.

 

Dakota turned to look outside, sighing. “I’m going to have to buy a new phone.” She said dejectedly.

 

“I’m not taking you back to the park, the cops have probably taped up the scene about now.” Matthew commented, keeping his eyes on the road.

 

Dakota froze slightly, looking stricken at that moment. “W-what if the cops find my phone and think that I had something to do with this? What if they think I made the entire thing?”

 

Matthew smiled reassuringly, “Kid, calm down. If they find your phone no one’s going to think you had any hand in any of this, if anything they’re going to be worried that you’re a victim of a horrible accident.”

 

“I really hope so.” The young woman said quietly, staring out the window at the midnight sky. “Thank’s Mr. Drake.”

 

“Matthew.” He corrected.

 

Dakota took a breath, “Matthew.”

 

“Good.” He praised, “Now call me if you need anything, right?”

 

Matthew stopped in front of the apartment building, waiting for Dakota to enter the front doors before taking off. Dakota lingered at the front, watching the massive truck go back the way it came before she turned to check her mailbox. She hummed slightly to break the eerie silence, collecting what letters were in the mailbox and ascending the stairwell until she made it up to the third floor. The key was in her hand before she stepped into the empty hallway, and Dakota could hear the muffled cries of a newborn baby not far off while its mother tiredly sang a lullaby.

 

Her apartment was 3C, and she was grateful that the old couple next to her slept at a pretty decent hour. The lack of drumming also meant that the neighbor above her was giving it a rest or pulling an all nighter studying or enjoying Netflix. She kept up her upbeat humming, unlocking the door to her apartment and stepping into her slightly messy home. She lacked a television, preferring to use online subscriptions on her laptop. Her apartment was a one-bedroom, the door replaced by a curtain as there wasn’t a door when she first bought it. She didn’t really mind, as it meant she could hear whatever went on in the main room. Her apartment wasn’t as clean as it could have been, with books lying around on the floor and articles of clothing on her bed at all times, but she was used to the mess.

 

Dakota set her bag down next to the small kitchen, stretching out and yawning. With how the day had been, she really needed to rest. She kept humming as she retrieved her medications and took the nightly dose, drinking it from a glass she procured from the cupboard. She set down the glass after two gulps and looked at the bag, stepping over to rummage through it and grab her tablet. She turned it on and waited, hovering her finger over the video file and tapping it so she could watch it.

 

It was under ten minutes but she ended up on the couch replaying the video six times, coming to a stop at the alien’s likeness and staring at the large eyes. There wasn’t anything other than the color, red as crimson and staring at her. Or was it staring at the phone? It was impossible to tell. Somewhere in her mind she tried to make up the rest of the alien, tapping out of the video and onto Safari, putting in a search for aliens so she could browse the likeness of every photo she came across.

 

The skin wasn’t gray, like the age-old imaginings of what aliens were perceived to be. The eyes were just as big, but with a slender head and nothing too wide. She wondered how big it was, tall or wide? Or was it her height, five foot six? Was it even smaller? The questions brought so many types of aliens into her mind, but she fixated on a certain type she already knew of. She giggled to herself afterward, tapping out of Safari and onto an app, pulling up a small obscure cartoon she grew to love and watching a few episodes. It was a fantastic cartoon, made by a macabre comic book artist and once aired on a children’s television network before it was cancelled. The channel it was on was far too young for its intended audience, and the cartoon was cancelled far too early.

 

The comic book artist was rumored to have his own alien encounter when he was a child, and based the cartoon off of his own experiences. She never believed it, but with a cartoon that twisted she had to wonder the alternative. Not that she followed the artist, oh no, she didn’t go on social media because it was bad for her mental health.

 

She stopped the video at the image of the leaders, tabbing back into the still image of her alien, giggling again at the sudden thought and daydreaming about a tall alien and considering the possibilities that it could be that alien. An Irken.

 

Because that’s what they were called, Irkens. From the planet Irk. She smiled at the thought, even though it was a farfetched thought that held no weight to it at all. Irkens weren’t real, they were all from the mind of the comic book artist and her alien wasn’t anything like it. It didn’t mean she couldn’t imagine it, however, her mind painting an alternate ending to her encounter, where she didn’t pass out from a panic attack and actually made contact with the being.

 

The tablet was quickly shut off, tucked under her couch cushions as she made her way to her room, the thought fresh in her mind while she shed herself of her clothing and tossed everything haphazardly to the side. It was time to go to bed anyway, so why not have a pleasant thought to drive her to sleep? She kept her intimate collections next to her bed, locked in a black box, something she needed after days that left her wound up with tension that could only be taken care of with a toy and her imagination. It worked fantastically to ease her mind so she could fall asleep, and it was better when she had exciting ideas that passed her mind.

 

Dakota sighed pleasantly, ignoring the faint whirr of her device to think about earlier, how things could have gone differently. She could have been taken away, somehow, captive to a strong alien with deep crimson eyes. His lengthy fingers exploring her body while she was restrained and unable to look away from his intense gaze. Nothing could be said between them, because whatever was said would fall away from translation. They’d have to rely on touch and emotions. Fear, curiosity, want.

 

She was lost in her fantasies, mewling out pleasant sounds the more she moved, unfocused on the reality that was around her and the faint sound of glass cutting. In her living room, a tall, lengthy being eased himself into the shape it made from the glass, its metal extensions retracting back into the metal pack on its back. The creature’s eyes were glowing red in the darkness of the room, its antennae twitching in the direction of the pleasant noises. It reached behind itself and took something out of its pack, the black bar that was cracked.

 

This was the domicile of the female that escaped him, away from that large building the male had taken her to. The male with the frightening but primitive weapon. He’d get back to that male soon, but for now it was the female that he needed to take care of, the one who had evidence of his existence. He managed to capture the device before he was scared off, but no matter what he did he couldn’t get past the device’s security. He wanted that video, he needed that video. Because if this female had captured his likeness than it wouldn’t be long until the rest of them knew about his existence.

 

The robes he had been wearing billowed when he moved, towards the curtain that was hiding the female. He stopped quickly, smelling something different. It was a faint smell but still strong, and if he had his equipment he could be able to figure out what it meant. No, he was stranded on a vaguely known planet, not knowing what he was encountering. If he had to guess, it was a scent to attract mates. Was the female in heat? He glanced around the room again, noting that he was alone.

 

Dakota was deep in her imagination, breathing heavily as she built herself up to her apex, thinking about how the alien would ravage her, conquer her, anything, the thoughts were mixing together the more she was losing control of thinking in general, reaching her own climax she gasped out, tensing up as she felt her orgasm wrack through her body. Though, when her eyes opened and caught the sight of something staring back at her, she let out a scream and the mood was replaced with instant fear, the woman dropping her still buzzing toy as she shoved herself so far back on the bed that she tumbled off of the side. The last thing she expected was that the alien from her fantasies would be standing there in her room. She breathed out a curse as she scrambled upright, cowering on the small floor between the bed and the wall and staring wide-eyed at the alien. It was tall, like she imagined, tall and green with…antennae. Was there antennae before? She didn’t remember. She covered her mouth with her hands when it stepped forward, watching it look down on her bed and reach out to pick up the small vibrator.

 

Dakota bit down on her tongue accidentally as it idly tasted it, shutting her eyes in the sudden realization of what the fuck was happening. She forced herself to look at him again, shaking slightly and her heart pounding as she finally got up to crawl back on the bed and grab the vibrator from the alien’s hands quickly to throw it across the room, her face darkened by her own embarrassment.

 

“That’s obscene!” She said aloud, grimacing when she still could hear it rattle against the floor.

 

“I was going to eat that!” The alien shouted back, offended at what she did.

 

The woman felt light headed, her anxiety reaching new levels and she sat back down. “Christ.” She breathed, wondering if she had actually heard this or not. Was she asleep? No, her anxiety was thundering at her chest too much for this to be a dream. She was afraid to look back at the alien, because for her own sanity, this had to be a dream. A weird fucking dream.

 

What brought her back was the sound of her Find My iPhone ringtone, and she flinched at the sound. It couldn’t be her ringtone, she lost her phone. Gradually she looked back to see the alien throw it down onto her mattress.

 

“This thing won’t shut off, it’s annoying.” The alien said then, looking displeased that the black bar had began to sing again.

 

Dakota reached for the phone shakily, unlocking the phone quickly and confirming the signal. She didn’t say anything, looking back up at the alien again.

 

The creature’s antennae flicked forward, and he steadily stared down at the piece of technology, waiting. After a split second, he snapped forward and lunged for the phone, but Dakota recoiled away from the bed with the phone close to her chest.

 

“Give that to me!” He snarled.

 

“No!” She cried out, pressing herself against the wall as he loomed threateningly over her. He let out a low growl but Dakota carefully transferred her phone into her other hand, hiding it behind her. She wasn’t going to back down, despite the hammering of her heart. She stared at him evenly, “What are you?” She questioned softly, her voice wavering.

 

The alien glared at her, “Nothing. Just give me that black bar and tell me how to erase it.”

 

“I’m not letting you have it!” Dakota said again, “It’s a phone and it’s mine.”

 

His antennae twitched back irritably, “Then give me the evidence.” He ground out.

 

Dakota’s heart was fluttering, and she breathed out a laugh. “You—want—“ She continued to laugh, shaking her head. “I can’t…”

 

The alien tried to look imposing, becoming taller. “You can’t what?”

 

“The video can’t be removed.” She said quickly, “It went on the cloud.” She could hear her conscience screaming at her, asking why she was lying when she could be killed at any moment, but a rush of adrenaline was running through her veins and she was enjoying it. She grinned at the anger that flashed through the alien’s eyes, how he tried to look more dangerous. Somewhere inside her head she wondered if this was a form of suicidal action brought on by her depression. She set that aside for now.

 

“Then direct me to the cloud!” He demanded harshly.

 

She continued to laugh, shaking her head. “The cloud, once something goes there, it can’t be deleted. It’s not something tangible!” She was feeling hysterical, wondering if she was nearly about to die. “You can’t delete anything!”

 

The alien’s left eye twitched, and he launched himself off the bed and away from Dakota. He stalked out of the room and she could hear him raging a war on everything that was out there. She gasped out suddenly and scrambled away from the wall, rushing into the bathroom and locking it quickly. She sat in the shower and used it as her little safe haven while the alien continued to rage war on her living room, clutching her phone and curled up, nude, in the one spot. When the noise died down she checked the clock on her phone, sighing out breathily and leaning her head against the shower wall to enjoy the silence.

 

She didn’t know when she fell asleep, but by the time she woke up she found the alien back in her personal space. He slapped his hand over her mouth before she could scream, her eyes wide and staring into his own. She was already shaking, wondering if this was her last moment alive. He was waiting for her to let her guard down and now he was going to kill her. But that didn’t make sense, if he was going to kill her, he could have done it while she was asleep. Right?

 

“I made my decision.” He said it lowly, glaring at her like she was a worm. “If you won’t give me what I want, then I’m going to keep an eye on you and make sure you don’t use it.”

 

Dakota froze, staring at the alien in disbelief. She realized then that she wasn’t breathing and gasped out for breath, coughing behind his hand. He didn’t like that, suddenly retracting his hand in outright disgust and grimacing.

 

“Eugh.” He stood up then and turned around, exposing his back to her. Dakota stared at his back, her eyes trailing up and freezing at the metal pack near the alien’s shoulders. It looked just like the PAK in the cartoon she watched. Her mouth opened slightly, breathing out the three letter word.

 

The alien seemed to hear her, turning back looking even more outraged. “What did you say?” He hissed out.

 

Dakota felt her heart skip, “I—I—Irk. No, no that’s not possible. You’re Irken, are you?”

 

The alien’s eyes widened in shock just slightly before narrowing into slits. “Just who are you? How do you know of my race?”

Chapter Text

This couldn’t be happening, but it was. Dakota continued to stare at the Irken with wide eyes, taking in its features. Green skin, large eyes, antennae, the skeletal structure, the pack on its back…

 

She suddenly registered the Irken’s height, as he stood so tall his antennae were brushing the ceiling. He had to be almost eight foot tall. She swallowed thickly, blinking. “You’re a Tallest, aren’t you?” She breathed out.

 

The Irken couldn’t glare at her any harder, looking enraged at what she was saying. “Is this some kind of trap?” He growled out. “Are you a bounty hunter?”

 

She squeaked out when he stepped dangerously close to her, the Irken slamming its hand against the shower wall as it pressed its face against hers. She felt her heart thundering in her chest and she swallowed again. “N-n-no, just human. I swear—“

 

He snorted in mock amusement, grabbing her arm and bodily dragging her out of the bathroom. She yelped, stumbling after him. “I can prove it!” She said in a panic, her eyes never leaving him, “Just give me a chance!”

 

The Irken muttered something in his own language, tossing her to the floor and Dakota whimpered as she crumpled up. She finally looked around the living room, noting how it looked ransacked and torn. She pushed herself up on her knees and crawled over to where the couch was, digging through the cushions until she found her tablet and pulled it free. Her hands were shaking, tapping the needed apps to get back to the cartoon she was watching.

 

Dakota carefully got up to her feet, turning the tablet around and shoving it into the Irken’s face. “It’s a cartoon. An animation for entertainment.” She explained, watching him grip the tablet, his eyes focused on what he was watching. “The creator said the aliens were based on the ones he encountered as a child, Irkens. I know everything about them.” She pulled up her hair and turned around, exposing a tattoo on the back of her neck.

 

He must have seen it, because suddenly the tablet was clattering to the floor and his hands were gripping her shoulders. The Irken stared at the symbol in disbelief, one hand letting go to graze across the darkened flesh of the tattoo, his eye twitching.

 

“You would freely mark yourself as Irken property? Do you even know what this symbol means?” He asked.

 

The woman was shaking a lot less, biting her lip hesitantly. “It means something different for me.” She said softly.

 

The Irken clicked his tongue, shoving her away in disgust and peering down at the tablet that was still playing the cartoon. The sight of the Tallests made him snort out, and he bent over and picked up the device. “This is horribly accurate.” He said mostly to himself, “Whoever made this got their stupidity right.”

 

Dakota turned around gradually, watching him. “I never thought I’d be looking at a real Irken.” Her heart was pounding a lot less now, enjoying how calm she was feeling. She watched him as he stared at the cartoon, slowly becoming aware of the fact that she was still nude and deciding to leave him and retreat to her room.

 

She dug into the dresser for a bra and panties, putting them on and smiling when she suddenly heard a laugh breaking the silence. She sighed at that, fastening her bra and sitting on the bed. She sat there for a moment, her eyes trailing over to the toy that lied there without movement. It must have lost its charge. Dakota padded over to the vibrator and picked it up, remembering how the Irken licked it and shivering. She bit her lip and went back to the bathroom to wash it off.

 

By the time Dakota was locking her box back up the Irken was at her side again, watching her suspiciously. A cold chill went down her spine and she glanced back.

 

“What’s in the box?” He questioned, still untrusting.

 

She ignored the glare and shoved the box under her bed quickly, blushing just slightly. “Private…things…”

 

“Right.” He proceeded to shove her out of the way and retrieve the box. Dakota gaped at him and reached out to grab it.

 

“What the hell!” She shouted, “I told you it’s private!”

 

“I don’t trust you!” He snarled, wrenching the box from her grip. “Besides, you marked yourself as Irken property, you have no rights around me!” He said the last part smugly, making Dakota’s jaw drop. He broke off the lock and opened it, suddenly stopping.

 

The woman let out a squeak and turned around, covering her face with her hands. “Christ almighty.”

 

The Irken reached into the box and grabbed the biggest item in there, staring at the dildo quizzically. “Is this a weapon?”

 

She peeked out at him and let out an embarrassed whine, deciding to shove herself against him and try to take him down. “You’re so fucking rude!” She cried out, grabbing the silicone toy from his hand and tossing it back into the box. “Sex toys, alright? They’re fucking sex toys and they’re not for you to look at!”

 

The human tackled him with such force that he ended up over the bed, and hearing her shriek with such embarrassment made him laugh. He watched the female grab the box and shove it back under the bed, slowly coming to realization what she meant. He looked appalled at first, remembering the scene he came upon earlier and realizing just then what he wanted to devour because it tasted so good. He was tasting her.

 

Dakota was hoping the Irken wasn’t going to pry any further, escaping his mysterious gaze as she searched frantically for pants. She was suddenly too naked around this alien, this frighteningly tall being. She picked up the jeans she was wearing earlier and the shirt along with it, quickly getting them on. She knew he was watching her, she could feel his eyes on her back.

 

“Do Irkens know about the basics of privacy?” Dakota questioned him.

 

The alien only snorted again in amusement, “You’re assuming that anyone below the rank of a Tallest is allowed privacy.” He commented, “With that symbol on your neck, you’re property. Property doesn’t have rights, or privacy.”

 

The woman glared at him, “Look buddy, I didn’t get that tattoo under the knowledge that your species was a real thing.” She said hotly, “I got it for my own reasons! Now if you’re going to be an ass about this then fuck off and leave my apartment.”

 

The Irken only whistled, settling himself on the bed instead. “Nah.” He said nonchalantly, “Actually, I believe that your status means that everything that’s yours is now mine.” He sounded so damn smug about it, it pissed Dakota off to no end.

 

“You have NO right—“ She hissed out.

 

“Ah, ah, ah.” He sat up, smirking, “Under the Irken law, marked property is owned by any high ranking Irken that claims them, and anything that is in that property’s possession is up for grabs.” He folded his legs, settling himself on the mattress. “If you’re nice to me, I might let you sleep on my bed.”

 

All the fantasies she once had about meeting an Irken went out the window at how cocky the one right in front of her was acting, the alien was so full of himself and so infuriating, Dakota suddenly regretted ever showing him that tattoo on her neck. Seeing that symbol seemed to change his whole personality, allowing him to throw his weight around like—

 

Dakota stepped over to the bed, “If that cartoon is accurate like you said, then you must be the height of the leaders. Why are you on Earth and not on Irk being a leader?”

 

The question seemed to get his full attention, and he glared at her again. “Earth huh? Aren’t you supposed to be stupid?”

 

Dakota rolled her eyes, “Not everyone on this planet is stupid.”

 

“Yeah.” He answered curtly, “Don’t talk about something you don’t know about, female. Just ignore my ranking for the duration of your lifetime.”

 

The woman laid her knee on the end of the bed, matching his glare. “If you’re living with me, then you’re going to have to learn my name, and I’m going to have to know yours. I also deserve an explanation about why I found you and that ship earlier today.”

 

The Irken growled warningly, “You don’t deserve anything, female.” He reached out and shoved her off the bed. “Irken law states that you’re nothing.”

 

“We’re not on Irk, you egotistical piece of shit.” Dakota spat out with venom. “This is Earth you’re on, and if that cartoon is correct Irk is lightyears away from this very solar system!” She resumed her earlier position, “My name is Dakota, and I am not your property.”

 

“Do you really think you can frighten me?” He said aloud, shifting so he was towering over her. “For one, I’m taller than you, that earns me your respect.” He held up a finger, “Two, I don’t care if this is Earth or Meekrob or Vort, Irken law towers over whatever laws your kind thinks you have.” He held up a second finger, moving onto a third. When that happened Dakota stared at it, remembering something. She instantly recoiled, stepping back and leaving the room. The Irken watched her, smirking haughtily and sinking back down on the mattress, thinking he had won the battle.

 

Dakota came back in with a water gun, aiming it at his head. “Fuck your Irken law.” She hissed out, the gun still dripping in water and catching the Irken’s attention. He stared at the drops of water that stained on the mattress, trailing his eyes back up to the female’s finger on the trigger. “Irkens are still allergic to water, are they?” She questioned.

 

He reeled back defensively, “We’re not allergic to any water, it’s your planet’s water. It’s highly polluted in toxins and acts as an acid to our flesh.”

 

She seemed to smile at that, “Nice to know, now give me a name.”

 

He hesitated, staring at the gun and swallowing thickly. “Jinx.” He said eventually.

 

Dakota kept the gun aimed at him, looking smug now. “You still have all your fingers, Irkens who become Tallests get one cut off to prove that they can rule with only two. I’m going to ask you again, why are you here on Earth and not on Irk. Clearly you’re taller than the last ones.”

 

Jinx flinched at the factual explanation, “Well…” He stopped then, glancing around.

 

“Spill.” She demanded.

 

The Irken pressed himself against the far wall, “I was about to be made Tallest, alright? Red and Purple, they’re dead, I was next in line.”

 

Dakota nodded slowly, “So why are you here?”

 

“Do you really need to know this?” Jinx asked desperately. “Some things aren’t really that important, let’s just start over, yeah?”

 

The woman waited patiently, her eyes never leaving his.

 

He raised his hands up in surrender, just in case. “Irken law states that the Tallests will rule until their deaths, however that will happen. When Red and Purple died, they were killed under mysterious circumstances and I was bumped up to become the new head honcho. I was nearly there for the Great Measuring until I had to leave quickly, because the security team discovered who it was that killed the Tallests.”

 

Dakota lowered the gun, frowning. “So you were in danger?”

 

“Not in the way you think, but yes.” He surmised. “I took the nearest escape pod and set it for coordinates I knew they couldn’t reach, from where they once sent the defective they exiled.”

 

Dakota nodded, “Zim…” She felt dizzy suddenly, realizing that Zim was real. “So…wh—who killed the Tallests?”

 

Jinx snorted, “Oh just some foolhardy Irken that thought he could get his way once they were gone. You see, Zim made it look so easy, because he wasn’t deleted right off the bat when he killed the last two Tallests, but Irken law states that no retribution will be acted upon accidental death. Everything Zim did was accidental, but this other Irken, he killed the Tallests on purpose. That’s a capitol offense under Irken law, and assassinating your leaders is treason and punishable by the most gruesome death imaginable.”

 

Dakota sat down slowly, “If he knew that, then why did he do it?”

 

Jinx shrugged lightly, “Thought he could get away with it, and it was going so well, all he had to do was reach the Great Measuring, because if he became the Tallest, then he’d be immune to past crimes. Irken law states that a Tallest cannot be tried for any past misdeeds, no matter what they are.”

 

Dakota had set her gun down when he began talking, not realizing that he was easing closer to her until a few choice words caught her attention, but before she could reach for the weapon the Irken grabbed it quickly and snarled. Dakota’s heart leapt in her throat and she stumbled off of the bed, backing herself into a corner, her eyes wide as she watched him dispose of the water gun and slink over to her slowly, standing taller and cracking his knuckles.

 

She was alone in a room with a murderer.

 

“Here’s how it’s going to go down.” He said calmly, stepping closer to her. “I’m going to be staying here, and you’re going to be a happy little human and say nothing about it to anyone. You’re going to act as if everything’s perfectly normal, or else I might just get that urge to spill blood again. You’re nothing but property, and I own you.” He smirked.

 

Dakota was feeling light headed again, whimpering slightly. She couldn’t meld into the wall even if she tried, and the more she tried the closer he became, his form towering over her as she kept her eyes on his.

 

“Do we have an understanding?” He asked then.

 

She nodded slowly, shaking.

 

The Irken slowly smiled then, stepping away just slightly. “I’m sure you’ll learn soon how this is the best decision for the both of us.”

 


 

 

 

There was no way in hell that Dakota was going to get any sleep that night, and after Jinx barred her from her own room, she was left with the mess of the living room and the task of cleaning up the destruction that he created. It was impossible to do anything else, try to pretend like everything was normal. Because it wasn’t normal, there was a fucking murderous alien in her apartment, lounging in her bed and pretending he was the king of the entire apartment. How could anyone sleep?

 

He had seized her tablet for his own use, but he didn’t know about her laptop. She also had her phone still hidden away, but now wasn’t the time to call for help. It was still 2AM, and Everett and Matthew would be asleep. She kept herself busy with cleaning up Jinx’s mess, throwing away the ripped and torn books and setting aside everything that was broken. She was left with the sofa, which she had to drape with a blanket after duct-taping the slashes that revealed the cushioning. She dragged her bag over to the closet, putting it deep inside near the back and locked herself away. It was cramped, but it was better than the bathroom, and Dakota sat on the floor with the laptop in her lap, going over the tabs and distracting herself with another video. She checked the clock after two shows, reading the time tiredly. 4AM. She had to go to work in two hours, she thought brokenly. She turned off the laptop and tucked it back in the recesses of the closet, stretching out and peeking out the door. The kitchen’s cupboards were wide open and the Irken was browsing all the food she had.

 

“Don’t eat everything.” She said sternly.

 

The Irken glanced at her, taking out the boxes of cereal. “You barely have anything edible. How do you expect to feed me when you can barely feed yourself?”

 

“Well, I’m so sorry.” Dakota folded her arms, “I was under the assumption that I was living by myself and not feeding an overly large and greedy pet.”

 

He clicked his tongue in distaste and emptied out the cupboards, proceeding to open the refrigerator to inspect the lack of food in there. “You live in squander.” He decided.

 

Dakota proceeded to step into the kitchen and open a drawer, pulling out a bowel and opening one of the cereal boxes to pour some inside. Frosted Flakes. “I live like a woman that works on minimum wage and has to pay for a home and medication.” She explained irritably, shoving the bowl at his side. “Your kind loves sugar, right?”

 

He stared down at the bowl and reached down to pick up a flake, his tongue darting out to taste the food. He hummed in appreciation and popped it into his mouth.

 

The woman nudged the bowl into his hands, glaring at him and refusing to hold it for him. “I’m not your damn slave.”

 

“Useless.” He commented, taking the bowl and retreating back into the bedroom. “Get more of these!” He called out to her then, making her cringe and flip him off from behind the curtain. She looked over all the boxes of cereal she had, counting at least three out of five that he’d probably eat. She sighed and put the boxes back, and all the other items that he refused to touch. The only thing that was in her refrigerator was a gallon of milk and some eggs, a bag of shredded cheese and butter. She needed to eat, and thankfully Irkens lived off of snacks and not real food. Snacks were cheap and easy to find. She got out another bowl and the eggs, cracking them and tossing out the shells, going about mixing the eggs in the bowl after pulling out a pan for the stove.

 

While she was cooking the eggs, she brought down the toaster and plugged it in, taking out some English muffins and cutting them in half. Distracting herself with basic cooking was easy, and she smiled somewhat as she flipped the egg in the pan and took the remaining shredded cheese she had and covered one half of the omelette.

 

Jinx could hear the human female cooking, smelling the food and narrowing his eyes slightly. What nerve, he thought, getting up and stalking over to the curtain to peer out into the kitchen. He opened his mouth to say something but shut it, listening to her humming as she buttered the muffins and set them on a plate. The omelette was already done, the cheese melting between the eggs and waiting to be garnished.

 

Dakota looked happy at what she made, taking the plate full of food and moving to sit on the couch. She set the plate on her lap and cut open the egg to take a bite, letting out a sigh of appreciation afterward. She had missed dinner altogether because of this alien discovery, and she was starving.

 

Jinx stepped out from behind the curtain and stepped over to stand over the woman, staring down at the food. “I see how it is, you give me scraps and then make yourself a feast.”

 

Dakota rolled her eyes, chewing on a piece of muffin and not saying anything.

 

The Irken grunted in irritation and reached down to grab the plate, taking it out of her hands and staring closely at the food.

 

The woman only watched him, “You won’t like it.” She said knowingly.

 

“You underestimate Irken anatomy.” He commented, taking a piece of the muffin and chewing on it thoughtfully. His antennae flicked irritably and a look of disgust passed his features. “This has no taste to it.”

 

Dakota smiled, holding up the fork for him. “Try the eggs.”

 

He grabbed the fork with his free hand, cutting into the omelette and taking a big chunk out of it. He regretted everything he did, gagging as soon as the eggs went into his mouth and almost dropping the plate. Dakota saved her breakfast quickly, sitting back down with her own smug smirk before resuming her meal.

 

“Your species eats garbage!” He coughed out, looking bewildered at how she was eating and becoming annoyed at how she was smiling, like she won a battle. “You did that on purpose!” He almost shouted.

 

“Maybe.” Dakota hummed.

 

Jinx glared at her, but he didn’t do anything about it. Instead, he turned on his heel and went back into the cupboards, grabbing the box of cereal she gave him and taking it back to the bedroom.

 

Dakota finished her breakfast slowly, moving to fill the dishwasher afterward and shutting it before checking the time. An hour had passed, and she needed to prepare for work. She pushed the curtains apart and ignored the lounging Irken staring at the tablet, digging into her dresser and retrieving clothes.

 

“What are you doing in here?” He barked out.

 

“Getting ready for work.” Dakota answered calmly.

 

“What?”

 

“You told me, as long as you’re here, I’m to act normally.” She reminded him, grabbing a pair of socks. “I’m going to get ready and go to work, as if you were never here.”

 

Jinx was angry, but he quickly lost the reason for why he was angry. She was doing as he told her to, but…

 

“You have a job?” He questioned, suspicious.

 

“How else do I pay for my palace?” She bit out sarcastically, turning to him and motioning around the room. “I work, like all humans do.”

 

He blinked, not entirely on the same page. Dakota stared at him flatly, pursing her lips in a tin line while she thought. She sighed after a moment, “Tell me, how are you speaking English?”

 

“Oh!” Jinx grinned at that, “Language modifier installed in my pack. All the invaders get one to communicate with other species.”

 

Dakota thought about it, quirking her head slightly, “Can you read English?”

 

He was inclined to laugh, “Of course I can!”

 

Dakota had a nagging feeling that he was lying about that, stepping over to the bed and setting down her clothes so she could reach for the tablet. She snatched it away before he could grasp it again, tapping on a few apps and opening up a certain one, inputting some information before exiting out of it and opening up what she wanted. She smiled in satisfaction, handing the tablet back to him. “Prove it.” She said then, gathering her clothes and leaving the room.

 

Jinx blinked again, staring at the tablet’s wall of words, turning the screen and attempting to get out of it. Nothing was happening and he looked irritated, tossing it on the mattress and getting up to follow her into the bathroom—only to run back out after she turned the shower on.

 

“I can’t leave whatever you put on!” He cried out.

 

“Learn how to read and maybe I’ll teach you about parental controls!” She said from the shower, chuckling to herself.


 

 

Dakota tucked the apron into her bag as soon as she stepped into the coffee shop, pulling out her phone and calling her boss.

 

“Hey, Mr. Gonzalez? It’s Dakota. I’m sorry about the sudden call but I can’t make it in for the week—yeah, I sprained my ankle and the doctor wants me to stay off of it for the while.” She smiled at her own reflection, nodding at what her boss said. “Oh you’re such a life saver, thank you so much! Yes, I do have a bunch of vacation days, don’t I?” She grinned then, “Oh two weeks? Are you sure you’ll be okay with that? … Oh, yeah, I suppose I’ve been working myself silly, no problem Mr. Gonzalez, thanks again!” She hung up then, catching an older lady looking down at her feet and smiling at her when she gave Dakota a dirty look. She ignored that and proceeded to get a couple cups of coffee, paying for her order and carrying both cups over to the library.

 

Everett wasn’t at the front desk yet, and so Dakota placed her cup down on the counter, waiting patiently and enjoying the quiet. She still looked like she didn’t get any sleep, but it was alright. She stood there until curiosity lead her upstairs, stepping quietly over to the storage loft and easing herself into the room. It was perfectly empty, save for the decoration boxes. She sat in a corner and enjoyed the complete silence of the room, sipping on her coffee and leaning against the wall.

 

Somewhere along the line of enjoying the quiet, she was lulled into a restful sleep, her head using the bag as a pillow and a curious looking afghan was covering her person. She yawned and brought out her phone, looking at the time. 11:45. She slept for five hours and it was clear that Everett had found her, as her coffee was missing as well. She sighed a little and stretched out her arms, mewling like a cat and snuggling into the afghan. Dakota loved this room, and she wished it was a place she could live in. It had privacy and quiet, a perfect size for her and everything she had and she was in perfect walking distance of a good book.

 

Eventually, Dakota left the warm room and made her way downstairs, smiling at the blue-haired beauty with the afghan in her arms.

 

“Thanks for the coffee.” The woman said.

 

“No problem.” Dakota whispered.

 

“Shouldn’t you be at work right now?” Everett questioned, pointing at the apron peeking out of her bag. Dakota looked at it for a moment and sighed. How did one start this conversation? Dakota looked around the library, double-checking who was inside. Everett’s brows knitted together when she did, making her way around the counter and taking the younger woman’s hand, dragging her back to the second floor. “You’re worrying me, Dakota.” She said then, quickly checking the area.

 

Dakota smiled reassuringly, “Ah, something happened? I had to ask for a week off of work, actually. He gave me two.”

 

Everett folded her arms, “Spill it.”

 

“Remember that alien from the video?” Dakota began, keeping the smile, “He’s currently in my apartment.”

 

Everett covered her mouth quickly, uttering a curse before shoving open the loft door and waiting for Dakota to enter it. She shut the door quickly, looking bewildered. “Say that again?”

 

Dakota felt nervous when she did, describing the details of the night before, while omitting the private parts, explaining what he was and how she knew. What he said to have done to get there and why it was imperative that Everett needed to know.

 

Everett was white as a sheet by the time Dakota finished, having already made a decision. “You’re not going back to that apartment.” She said immediately.

 

That wasn’t what she expected, “What?”

 

“You’re a twenty-five year old woman living alone and unarmed in a place where a convicted murderer is now hiding. I don’t care what kind of alien he is, Dakota, he still killed people intentionally! I’m not allowing this felon to think he owns you just because of a silly tattoo.”

 

Dakota groaned, “I—I can’t move out of my apartment, Everett—“

 

“Yes you can and it’s been a long time coming. Honey, if Matthew gets wind of your situation he’s going to just go down there in the truck with guns a-blazing, you really want my husband to burst down your front door and get in a fight with an alien?”

 

“No—no it’s not the point!” She tried again, “I worked so hard for that apartment! I worked so hard to make it on my own!” Dakota smiled sadly, “I don’t want to regress, Everett. I can handle a convicted felon in my home.”

 

“Honey,” Everett reached out to hug her tight, “You won’t be regressing if you decide to live with us again. Matthew loves you, Abby and Tabby love you, I love you. You’ll still be that well-organized adult that does her best every day.”

 

Dakota held onto her, remembering the first time she had this hug, the first time she met Everett. She met Everett through Matthew, only seventeen years old and struggling in high school after the accident. It was a difficult time, and she never thought her own high school English professor would take an interest in his own student. Only when Dakota was beginning to skip school more and more, when she used to be such a promising student.

 

It was all over the paper, the explosion. She never thought she would be a child that suddenly didn’t have parents anymore. She thought she could handle it, but day by day the reality of everything was chipping away at her. One day a classmate said the wrong thing and suddenly Dakota was behind the gym, having a panic attack and crying for hours. The depression was the worst part, and she knew she didn’t want to die, but she couldn’t be bothered to do anything. The kind couple that took her in suddenly didn’t want to deal with her anymore, either.

 

That’s where Matthew Drake came in, inviting her into his home and continuing to do so when she refused on multiple occasions. She was drowning in her grief and didn’t care about anything anymore. Until Matthew pulled his secret weapon out, his wife. Everett never took no for an answer, and did her best to help Dakota in her depression. She took Dakota to a therapist and a psychiatrist, insisted on buying her books and putting a roof over her head. They became something she needed in that period of time, a family. Because she didn’t have one to speak of after the accident, and for five years she slowly got better. Not nearly like how she once was before the accident, but enough to stand on her own feet.

 

Of course she didn’t want to move out of the apartment, she got it on her own with the money she made herself. She didn’t care if it wasn’t perfect, because it was hers.

 

Dakota was stubborn, “Let me live in the loft, and I’ll gladly move out.” She insisted.

 

Everett pursed her lips, “Dakota!”

 

“Matthew knows how to do electrical work, don’t give me that.” She motioned around the room, “How hard will it be to get light in this place? I’ll use a lantern if I need to.”

 

The argument made Everett laugh, and she shook her head. “I can’t just let anyone stay up in the library, Dakota. I would feel better if you worked here, so I can keep an eye on you. But if you want to live here, I will talk to Matthew about how we can make it possible - but until then, you’re living with us.”

 

Dakota sighed, “Understandable…but…”

 

“But what?” She questioned.

 

“I’m going to need to get back to my apartment to get some important things.”

 

Everett frowned, “Not unless Matthew—“

 

“I don’t need to be looked after, I know how to handle him.” Dakota insisted, “Give me about two hours, alright?”

 

The woman didn’t look happy about it, but she eventually relented. “If I don’t hear from you before three, I’m telling Matthew to go over there with a shotgun.”

 

Dakota smiled reassuringly, “It’s not going to get too bad.”


 

 

She was given about three hours and fifteen minutes to do what she needed to do, and it was more than enough time to make sure she had everything. She left everything in her bag in Everett’s car, needing the room for everything she was going to grab. She could hear the couple across the hallway having their own argument, and the baby crying again. The neighbor above her was practicing with his band, as if nothing ever happened the night prior. She unlocked the door and eased herself inside, finding that the living room was as bare as when she left it. She slipped her shoes off, padding across the floor to retrieve her medications, putting them in a compartment of her bag after unloading the snacks she bought a while earlier. The biggest thing was a change of clothes, and for that, Dakota needed to go into the bedroom. She eased the curtain open and peeked inside, breathing out a sigh when she saw that he wasn’t there at all. A thought bubbled up in her mind and she let out a quiet giggle, wondering if he couldn’t stand the noise either. 

 

She stepped into the room and set her bag on the floor, going to her dresser to empty it out. The best thing about her bag was that it was a weekender, something she managed to stuff everything she wanted to and still have room for more. Dakota got it nearly full until she remembered something important, ducking under the bed and pulling out the black box with a flush to her face. She opened the lid and looked inside, biting her lip at the small collection she had. Dakota’s mind suddenly went elsewhere, and a devilish thought crept up where it didn’t belong. She glanced at the doorway. No, he wasn’t here, not while it was loud. She checked her phone again and silently decided on what she was about to do. Because if she was doing this, she wouldn’t get a chance at the Drakes.

 

She replaced the batteries with the ones she had in the hidden compartment first, flicking it on and grinning slightly as it buzzed to life. She turned it off quickly and sighed, gathering the will. Dakota undid her shirt and slipped her pants off, keeping on her bra before hopping up on the bed. She sighed, relaxing in the bed just for a moment. She wasn’t going to see it again. Dakota could smell him on it, if he had a smell. It smelled like testosterone, or something like it. Did Irkens have testosterone? They were increasingly aggressive, so yes, perhaps it was true. That’s what it smelled like, aggression. Somewhere in there was a scent of soldering wires and sweat. She bit her lip, thinking back. Yes, he was frightening, but there was passion behind it. He was mysterious and she was curious. Dakota’s hands traced down her torso, parting her legs as she turned on her toy. She continued to think about her dangerous visitor as she breathed heavily.

 

She’d never admit it to him, or to anyone, but it was something of a dark secret in her mind. An Irken, one as tall as the Tallests, towering over her and having his way with her. She would be lying if she said him calling her his property didn’t make her legs quiver. Not that she got that symbol there for that reason, but oh, it just added to the collection of images she had in her mind. Dakota continued to tease herself, gasping and letting out a whimper when her hips thrusted forward. She was so lost in her own thoughts that she couldn’t see the figure behind the curtain. She had a rhythm set up, her eyes shut while she imagined those eyes.

 

When her eyes fluttered open those eyes were inches away from her face. She breathed in sharply but his hand clasped over her mouth before she could let out a sound. The toy slipped from her fingers but settled somewhere that worked against her fright, the woman whimpering into his hand suddenly. The Irken studied her form, looking down at what she was doing to herself while his free hand picked up the item that made her whimper, watching it buzz and remembering that one moment where he tasted something good, recalling that this had happened before. He looked back up at her, easing his hand away from her mouth. “Keep quiet.” He ordered then.

 

Dakota nodded obediently, gasping again when he pressed the toy to her curiously. She did her best to keep quiet, whimpering as he moved it around, like he was preforming an experiment and gauging her reactions. When the toy pressed against her sensitive spots she cried out just slightly, her hand flying to her mouth to keep it muffled. The noise seemed to interest him, and he did it again. Dakota whimpered pitifully against her hand and her hips shuddered upwards, begging for more.

 

Jinx looked interested, but he was done experimenting, remembering the sensitive spots and dipping his fingers between her legs, bringing them up to his mouth and licking them curiously. It was the same taste, and now he knew what it was. He laid his hands on either side of her legs, pushing them further apart, burying his head between her legs and going about trying something different.

 

Dakota covered her mouth with both hands, her cries muffled behind them. Her heart was beating hard and oh christ he was tasting her. That tongue of his was long and slender, and she could feel it brush against everything. She whimpered again, his hands firm on her legs to keep her from moving, the Irken intent on tasting more of what she had. He needed to taste something, anything, he was fucking hungry and had to escape the apartment for food. This human of his had left him all alone with no food, a poor excuse of a good slave. But now, he was tasting something new and delicious and it was coming from her. If anything, she could sate him in two different ways, as the cries and whimpers that drowned out the noise gave him incentive to try something different with his human.

 

Jinx was good at brushing against every sensitive spot she had, and Dakota failed to contain the cry that escaped her and the oncoming words that slipped from her mouth, “Please, please,” She begged, shuddering again. She was so close, just a little more…

 

The words seemed to work on his ego, stroking it the right way and he decided to give her what he wanted. His ministrations worked, the woman reaching her climax and crying out again, her back arching as Jinx fed on the orgasm that came forth. It left Dakota breathing heavily, staring at the Irken with wide eyes at what just had transpired.

 

He raised himself above her, looking down at the female’s flustered face and pulling on a grin of his own. He looked satisfied at how undone the woman looked, chuckling as she suddenly looked away while the realization of what he had done just hit her.

 

Dakota couldn’t look at him, breathing out and reaching for the phone on her nightstand. She swallowed thickly, noting the time and quickly dialing Matthew’s number. She held the phone to her ear, still flushed. “H-hey Matthew—Yeah, Everett told me to call you. I—I need a ride—no, no nothing’s wrong—my voice isn’t shaky—just pick me up in a few, alright? I’m okay, and leave the gun in the truck.” She hung up then, pressing the phone to her chest and finally casting her eyes back on Jinx. He was staring down at her suspiciously, having heard the whole thing.

 

“What was that about?”

 

Dakota thought quickly, “He’s a friend I have to visit for a while, alright?”

 

The Irken narrowed his eyes, “You’re not doing anything against your owner, are you?”

 

Dakota forced out a laugh, finally shoving him off of her and sighing. “No, I’m not. Matthew is someone I care about a lot.” She reached for her panties, pulling them on before getting dressed again, “I bought you some snacks before coming home, in case you get hungry.” She said then, “I left them on the counter.”

 

He continued to watch her with scrutiny, “I already ate.” He said flatly.

 

Dakota froze at the implications of that statement and fumbled with her shirt buttons, “Well—they’re—they’re there…” She quickly grabbed her toys, throwing them into the bag and shutting it quickly.

 

“Why are you taking those?” He questioned then, pointing at the bag.

 

Dakota blushed, “He’s that kind of friend!” She said defensively, standing up and heading out of the room.

 

Something about that struck a nerve in Jinx, the Irken snarling and following her. “I won’t have any other males touching what’s mine!” He shouted.

 

The words had her stopping, feeling her knees threaten to give out before she steeled herself. “D-don’t do that.” She begged.

 

He smirked at that, stepping up to her and brushing her hair back to trace the symbol with his fingers, “Don’t do what? Do I have to remind you how good you were for me?” He purred.

 

Dakota was starting to get second thoughts, standing perfectly still for the Irken while he toyed with her.

 

Jinx couldn’t get any further, because the door started pounding.

 

“Dakota? It’s Matthew! Is it safe to come in?” It was clear that Matthew had been waiting for her down below, given the time between the call and now.

 

Dakota opened her mouth to answer but Jinx snaked his hand over her mouth, whispering in her ear. “Don’t.”

 

The pounding continued. “Dakota, if you’re safe, give me a sign!” He shouted.

 

Jinx only bit the shell of her ear, making her knees buckle. He was enjoying her reactions. She only whimpered against his hand, stepping back as he eased her away from the door.

 

“That’s right, remember who you belong to.” He praised, smiling.

 

“That’s fucking it.” Matthew’s voice ground out, and suddenly the door was being kicked, one, two, three times before Matthew came barreling into the room, snarling at the sight of the Irken. “Oh, you’re dead.” He hissed out.

 

Dakota broke free from whatever trance she was in then, biting on Jinx’s hand hard and using the moment he recoiled to grab her bag and run for Matthew. The Irken was cursing in his own language, “Traitor!” He hissed out.

 

Dakota was through the threshold before she looked back, “My shoes!”

 

“I’ll buy you new ones, let’s go.” Matthew pulled her along, quickly leading her out of the apartment building and into his truck. The man started up the truck and left as quickly as possible, glaring at the road. “So much for not needing my shotgun!” He shouted.

Chapter Text

“What did he do to you?”

 

That was the first question when Dakota stepped into the house. She thought back to what had happened but laughed nervously instead of outright denying it. What would he do if he knew? “Nothing…bad.” She said eventually, meeting Matthew’s face. He looked ready to go back to the apartment to rage war on an alien, his blue eyes scanning Dakota’s form to look for telltale signs.

 

“Something happened.” He said finally, “Something must have happened from what I had walked in on!” His voice always cracked when he raised it, showing his pure worry over the situation.

 

Dakota held her hands up cautiously, “Nothing happened, Matthew!” She wondered where Everett was, hoping that she was at least in the next room. Matthew was overprotective and treated Dakota like one of his own. While it was endearing, it was also exhausting.

 

The man eyed her cautiously, “Are you sure nothing happened? Because I can go back there right now and settle this!”

 

“A shotgun can’t hurt an Irken!” She cried out, “He has a forcefield!” She almost slipped about the water but kept quiet about that, not really knowing why she wanted to keep that part a secret.

 

Matthew had a lot more questions on his mind, about a thousand more, as Everett told him the short and quick story and not the detailed one that Dakota told her. He didn’t know about the fact that he killed his leaders in cold blood, for good reason. Everett wasn’t stupid, because if she told him that then he would have charged up there earlier and not waited for Dakota to call like Everett instructed him to.

 

Dakota didn’t know if he knew those intimate details, but she wasn’t going to say a damn thing either. “Remember that cartoon I really got into?” She asked, hoping to change the subject.

 

Matthew nodded slowly, “The one you begged us for a tattoo from, yeah. How could I not? You became obsessed with that show.”

 

Dakota smiled slightly, “It turns out, the creator of that show wasn’t lying when he said that it was based on his childhood. The Irkens, the aliens in that show? They’re actually real.” She moved to the couch and sat down, folding her arms securely around herself. “It’s…I don’t know…Matthew, it’s like a dream. I didn’t believe it was true but I wanted it to be true, you know?”

 

Matthew joined her on the couch, “That show got you out of your depression, I understand.” He leaned against the cushions, “Dream or not, that thing could be dangerous. I mean he’s treating you like he owns you, over that tattoo.” He shook his head, “I should try to get in contact with the creator, maybe he could help. We need to know what we’re up against, if he’s as dangerous as we think.”

 

Dakota let out a nervous laugh, “Would he believe it, though? I mean we could be one of thousands of deranged fans who claim to have actually seen this!”

 

“Not exactly.” Matthew began to move his hands, “We have something the other lunatics don’t, Dakota. We have proof. We have photographic evidence of this thing, this Irken. That video is still on my thumb drive, and it’s on your tablet—“

 

“My tablet!” She cried out then, shoving her face in her hands. “He still has my tablet!”

 

Matthew watched her, “You still have your MacBook do you?” He questioned.

 

“Of course, I hid that away from him.” Dakota said softly, digging into her pocket and taking out her phone, “I managed to get this back, too.”

 

His eyes widened just slightly and he took the phone, looking over the crack in the screen. “Well, that’s good at least. Now, why does he have your tablet?”

 

Dakota shrugged, “He liked the show, I think. He said it’s accurate.”

 

Matthew couldn’t help but laugh at that, “Shit…” He paused suddenly, his eyes widening, “Does that mean that Zim is—“

 

“Real?” She finished his question, laughing, “Yeah, he’s real. So were the Tallests.”

 

He ran his hand through his unkempt hair, sighing out. “I’m gonna have to re-watch that fucking cartoon. After that we have to get a hold of that guy.”

 

“It just…explains so much.” 

 

Matthew agreed quietly, slowly getting up. “I’m going to do some research in my room, now if you need anything, you know where to get it. Okay?”

 

Dakota nodded, “I know the rules, Matthew. I’m allowed free reign at everything except the liquor.”

 

“Good.” He smiled faintly, “Glad to have you back, Dakota. Now holler if you need me.” He reminded her, leaving the room afterwards.

 

Dakota sat there for a moment, sighing and leaning back against the cushions. She rubbed her face with her hands and took a breath, getting up slowly and taking her bag upstairs and towards the last room down the hall. She flipped on the light and looked into it, taking note of the bed and minimalist design. They hadn’t changed a thing since she left, only coming in once and a while to remove the dust and the cobwebs. She could faintly hear the theme song coming from Matthew’s room and smiled, stepping into the room and shutting the door. Her laptop was still with Everett, as well as her charger. She began unpacking her bag, stopping quickly at the sight of her toys and laughing slightly.

 

There was a shoebox somewhere, she thought, moving towards the closet and finding one, taking the shoes out of it and using that to put her toys inside. She tucked it away under her bed, sighing in relief and thinking about what happened just a while ago. A shiver went up her spine at the memory.

 

“Don’t think about that…” She told herself, going back to her bag and removing her clothes for the dresser behind the door.

 

Already she felt at home. It was quiet and warm, the windows facing the suburbs that the house was built around. Dakota sat down on the bed after emptying out her bag, bouncing on the mattress and gauging how it felt versus the one at her apartment, taking it how soft it was, less squeaky. She smiled at the feeling and laid down.

 

There was a light knock on her door minutes later, Everett peeking her head in. “Matthew get you in one piece?” She asked.

 

Dakota sat up, smiling. “He practiced real restraint and left the shotgun in the truck.” She mused.

 

She pushed open the door then, her arms full with Dakota’s items. “Good, I don’t want my husband picking fights with aliens.” She grinned then, setting the items on a nearby desk. “We’re ordering pizza tonight, and the girls are sleeping over at their friends.”

 

“No big dinner?” The younger woman asked, pouting. “I miss Matthew’s barbecue.”

 

“Matthew’s going to binge on an alien documentary tonight and can’t be bothered, given everything that’s happened.” Everett moved to sit on the edge of the bed. “I feel better now that you’re under our roof, after what you’ve told me. I don’t think that felon is going to try getting to you.”

 

“Because the Drakes are a fearsome couple, with their shotguns and crossbows.” Dakota grinned amusedly. Everett laughed and nudged Dakota with her elbow.

 

“Do you really want to see all the headshots I got with that thing? I’m a scary motherfucker.”

 

“I’m just glad that you don’t keep animal heads as trophies.” Dakota admitted truthfully.

 

“Now that’s just barbaric.” The woman stuck her tongue out, “We only hunt for the venison.”

 

“Deer jerky…God, I haven’t had that in years.” Dakota breathed.

 

Everett chuckled and got up, “I take it you still like your pizza with those horrible pineapples.”

 

“Don’t knock my taste in pizza!” The woman said indignantly.

 

“Your tastebuds are horrible.” Everett said jokingly, leaving the room.

 

Dakota only grinned, moving to the desk and sorting through her personal items, taking the books and putting them inside a drawer and collecting the cords to her laptop, setting up the wires for her MacBook and starting it up. The wifi password hadn’t changed, she thought, logging in and sitting down at the desk to browse the internet. Dakota quickly went up to the history tab first, needing to know what Jinx had browsed.

 

Her brows furrowed, clicking around and checking her connected devices, not finding her tablet at all. Did he get past the parental controls? No, that’s silly. He just plain wiped the device completely. She didn’t put it past him, Irkens were technologically savvy and it was only a matter of time until he found out how to use that device for his own needs. It didn’t bother her as much as it should have. That ship he came out of was small, it was an escape pod that probably had nothing he could use. The Irken was on the run and out of his element, and wherever that escape pod was now, he was left with just him and the tools in his pack. She glanced out the window, noting the clear skies. How long will he last out there, she wondered. If it ever started to rain what would he do?

 

She couldn’t help but wonder, or worry. Why was she worrying anyway? He was a horrible piece of shit, selfish and inconsiderate, who treated her like she was nothing. Even so, he was a fantasy come to life, real live evidence that the reality of her world wasn’t just full of nothing. He was her proof that life wasn’t without its magic, and that at least once in her life, a wish that she made towards the stars was actually heard by whoever was up there.

 

This murderous Irken wedged himself into her life, giving her what she wanted. Going so far as to… She swallowed thickly at the memory and quickly moved on. She instead wondered what would happen now if he just up and left, and the thought sent a chill up her spine. Suddenly that thought, that the Irken would disappear and never come back, it made her uneasy. She couldn’t handle that, being given her wish to have it taken away just as quickly.

 

Was it too late to go back? Dakota looked towards the door, only to look away. Matthew and Everett wouldn’t allow it, they cared about her well being too damn much to see her run head-first towards a dangerous alien that may or may not kill her. She could feel the panic attack hit her from the worry and desperate thoughts, taking a deep breath and clutching her chest. She shut her eyes and focused on breathing, slowly easing her panic away and calming down just in time to hear the doorbell ring. The pizza was here.

 

 


 

No one touched the ham and pineapple pizza but Dakota, Everett having declared it a horrible abomination to all pizza kind. She and Matthew shared a meat lovers, Matthew having grabbed three slices before returning to the bedroom. Apparently he was taking notes on everything he was watching, and wondered out loud to Dakota that the creator made the cartoon as a way of telling people what to be aware of just in case history repeated itself. Matthew had a point, the cartoon played off like a PSA about the Irken race if you looked at it differently, and Dakota wondered if he was right about his assumptions. History did repeat itself, it seemed, as the creator was in his late twenties currently, according to the Wikipedia entry, and this all happened when he was ten years old.

 

Dakota decided to watch some of the cartoon with Matthew while she ate her dinner, thinking about everything while he continued to take notes between bites. From everything, it seemed that the creator was suggesting the possibility of a planetary invasion, from the antics of Zim. If this was based on real events, then the smaller Irken was hell bent on having this planet destroyed, and she idly wondered if he was still trying to do so. 

 

Thankfully, he was stupid.

 

Dakota glanced at the doorway, catching Everett watching in on the two of them perched on the bed with an unreadable gaze. Dakota and Matthew had always been very close, and it was amazing that Everett didn’t react like how other women would. Maybe it was because Matthew was like a father to Dakota and the first person she trusted after the accident. It was a unique bond between them and Everett understood that.

 

She waved at Everett after a moment, and the woman nodded back, chewing thoughtfully on a breadstick before sighing and leaving down the hall. Dakota blinked, confused, looking back at Matthew and watching him write down another note.

 

“Honey, do we still have those super soakers?” He called out to his wife then, deep in thought.

 

Dakota bit her lip, looking back at the doorway as Everett’s voice answered, “In the shed, dear!”

 

“Good.” He said it lowly, marking something down.

 

Dakota pulled on a smile and picked up her empty plate, “I’m going to bed early.” She said then, getting back up. Matthew paused the cartoon and smiled at her.

 

“It’s been a trying day, kid. Feel free to sleep in.”

 

The woman nodded, leaning in to place a kiss on his forehead before leaving the room and depositing her plate in the sink. “Night, Everett!” She said towards the spacious living-room, seeing the woman hold up a glass of whiskey.

 

“Ham omelettes tomorrow, your favorite!” She called back, seemingly happy.

 

Dakota smiled at that, going back upstairs and returning to her room. She shut the door and sighed, looking up at the small skylight in the ceiling exposing the night sky. Now would be a good time for another wish, but she was afraid of making one. The last time she did so, the star hurled down and upended her life.

 

She settled for a safe wish and proceeded to close the curtains of her room before undressing. Dakota hesitated for a split second before stepping towards the bed, a cold chill going down her spine while her brain kickstarted into a sudden thought. He had left the apartment during broad daylight, it meant he had the ability to move without being detected, and if his pack could generate forcefields then—

 

A hand clasped over her mouth, an arm hooking around her waist just as quickly, she froze in her place, catching the faint shimmer of his hand coming into view as the Irken chuckled breathily into her ear.

 

“Did you ever think that you could run from me? Irkens are trained to hunt their prey.”

 

She made a strangled noise but he clicked his tongue, “If you know what’s best for you, keep quiet.” He ordered, walking her to the bed and shoving her down. Dakota gasped out, turning back around to sit up but the extensions of his pack darted out to catch her wrists, pinning them over her head. She felt her heart skip, staring up at the Irken with wide eyes and remaining quiet.

 

He grinned slowly, leaning down to meet her face to face, “Irken law states that if a slave flees from its owner its to be punished at the owners discretion. You need to learn your place and just who you belong to.” He growled out, reaching down to tear away at her panties. “Now, be a good human and tell me what you did with that male.”

 

Dakota’s eyebrows shot up, “M-Matthew?” She breathed out, “We—we didn’t—“

 

Jinx pushed her legs apart, “Tell me the truth, as I can always stop right now and hunt him down.” He said teasingly, “It’s so easy to crush someone’s skull, you know. Just enough pressure…”

 

Dakota whined slightly, “No—no, please, he’s just a friend. We’re not like that.” She whispered pleadingly. “I’m being honest!”

 

The Irken thought about it, delving his fingers between her legs. He could feel her arousal, chuckling at how slick his fingers became. “You still don’t understand your place, now, I’m going to make sure you realize just who owns you.” He slid them back into her, watching how erratic her breathing became as he explored her.

 

She could scream, it was so easy to do. Dakota could have screamed for Matthew or Everett, stopped what she knew was going to happen, but the aching feeling in her belly begged her not to, egging her to obey the Irken that was brushing against her walls. She let out a shuddered breath while her head fell back, hearing him purr in appreciation from her reactions.

 

“I like this.” He whispered smugly, “I like how my touch unravels you, bends you to my will. I can do whatever I want, and you’ll gladly allow it. It’s so much better than the poor excuse of a slave that talks back and betrays me whenever she feels like it.” He leaned down to lick along her neck. “All I have to do is keep you like this and you’ll be my perfect slave.”

 

Dakota whimpered quietly, her eyes falling shut. It was working, his words and touches. If he knew the truth then she’d fully be his to play with. She was so close to blindly obeying him now.

 

Jinx hummed in appreciation, removing his fingers to undo his own robes, resting his hands on her hips and pulling her down suddenly. Dakota’s eyes flew open at the sudden movement, her head raising to catch sight of what happened. She was exposed to the Irken’s nude form, the slender curves of his firm and hairless body and the one spot her eyes zoned in on. The concept of Irken anatomy was always a small curiosity in her mind, breathing heavily at the sight of the long and fat tentacle-like appendage that protruded from a slit inside of him. Jinx caught her eyes locked on what he possessed, not allowing her time to look at it for long.

 

Dakota’s breath hitched in her throat, feeling him enter her. She forced down the moans that threatened to escape, having trouble keeping herself quiet. It felt so huge, she gasped out, her hips shuddering again as her body was coerced to move with his.

 

The Irken growled possessively, dipping down to lick her neck again. “You’re mine, and I’m making sure it never leaves you. Your loyalties will lie only to your owner.” His movements quickened the more he whispered into her ear, growling again at how it was unraveling her completely. Dakota was breathing heavily, her voice threatening to break the silence the harder he pushed against her, his organ brushing over the sensitive spot inside of her.

 

She was on the edge of a powerful climax and the last thing she wanted was to have it ruined by screaming, so she did the first thing that came to mind, turning her head quickly to capture his lips with hers and whimpering loudly into his mouth. Her head felt light and her heart was fluttering, the Irken grinning against her lips before pressing back.

 

Her whole body was on fire, and she could feel his own erratic movements as he was nearing his own apex. The pressure from her orgasm brought forth his own, the Irken’s own cries muffled by her mouth before he nipped at her lower lip with a breathy growl. They were both left breathing heavily, Dakota’s eyes falling shut while she listened to the breathing of the alien above her.

 

Jinx felt the energy leave his limbs from such a climax, only being jolted back to full function by a shock from his pack. He sighed then, humming in satisfaction and easing himself out of her. “Good girl.” He praised quietly, his pack extensions easing themselves from her wrists and moving back to where they came from. He appraised the woman’s form, staring at her neck. Something was missing, a mark of ownership. He leaned back down and hummed against her neck, licking it again and then biting down on the flesh.

 

Dakota let out a small cry, her eyes fluttering open and sighing helplessly as she held onto the alien over her. He sucked at her flesh hard, his antennae twitching at the noises he made while he worked on his marking. She whimpered again when he finally let go, looking down at his work and smirking at how visible it was. It was his own silent ‘fuck you’ to the human male, something he knew the man would see.

 

Dakota was flushed, staring up into his eyes, “W-why?” She breathed out.

 

Jinx only pulled on a cool smile, “Because ever since you crossed my path, I owned you.”

 


 

 

Dakota didn’t like the sticky feeling between her legs when she woke up the next morning, remembering what had happened the night before with extreme detail and immediately covering her face with her hands. She let out a groan and curled up in the bed, the movement making it worse and the horrible realization that she had to leave the room and chance being seen by either of the Drakes before she got to the bathroom. She moved her hands away from her face and looked down at her wrists, seeing the faint line of restraints. What else?

 

She slowly touched her neck, feeling the sore spot and remembering that part. She breathed in deeply, trying to think quickly about how to hide it. Scarves? No, the only scarves she had were winter scarves and that wouldn’t look right in the summer. Did Everett keep concealer? Was it even in her shade? Everett was pale compared to her, but would it work? Her mind raced as she gradually sat up, cringing at the squishy feeling and reaching for a night shirt. She brushed her hair forward to hide the neckline and carefully escaped the room.

 

Wherever Jinx was, he was probably feeling pretty proud of himself, Dakota thought blandly, ducking into the bathroom as quickly as possible and locking the door behind her. She let out a sigh and directed herself to the cabinet first, roaming around for anything. Would a band-aid work or would it direct attention? She decided against it, going behind the mirror and only finding mens care products. This was Matthew’s bathroom, she surmised, slowly remembering how everything worked between the two. There were two different bathrooms, and Everett slept separately from Matthew, as she stayed up until all hours and Matthew had to work in the morning. That and Matthew said that his wife snored like a chainsaw.

 

If this was Matthew’s bathroom then there was nothing here to help her, she realized. Dakota decided to wash up first, hopping into the shower and cleaning herself twice. Matthew’s towels were the large ones, and she wrapped one around herself after ringing the water from her hair. She was nearly in the clear, until she opened it and jumped at the sight of a sleepy-eyed looking Matthew leaning against the wall across from the door. “Oh!” She quickly tried to hide the mark on her neck with her hair, “Excuse me…” She said hurriedly, hearing him grunt out a reply before trudging into the bathroom. He seemed half-asleep, too tired to register anything right now.

 

For a moment.

 

“Dakota?” She froze, glancing back and catching his blue eyes, the man looking less tired. “It’s 6AM.” He pointed out, “Why are you up so early?”

 

She opened her mouth and shut it, trying to think of a good excuse. She took a step back when he zoned in on the thing she was trying to hide, but to her astonishment he didn’t say anything about it. Instead she was faced with a stern glare while he folded his arms and waited for her answer.

 

“I—thought…I could…get a run in…” She said slowly.

 

He quirked a brow, challenging her. “You don’t run, Dakota.”

 

“You don’t know that!” She said defensively, “I haven’t lived with you for three years!”

 

He nodded quietly, still skeptical. “You have no shoes.” He countered, smirking slightly.

 

Realization dawned on her quickly, but she was quicker. “I was going to steal Everett’s thongs and rescue my shoes from the apartment.” She said then, straightening her back with a smile of her own.

 

“Alright.” He said then, even though Dakota was preparing for a fight. His sudden agreement took the wind out of her sails and she suddenly blinked in confusion.

 

“What?”

 

He shrugged lightly, “I said alright. You’re a big girl, Dakota.” He said simply, “I can’t stop you.” With that he went back into the bathroom, shutting the door.

 

The reaction was something Dakota never thought she’d get from Matthew Drake, and she stared at the door intently for a moment before turning away and going back to her room.

 


 

Dakota had left the house before Everett woke up, looking out of place with her slacks and flip-flops. She ran it over in her mind, because she wasn’t a liar. She was going to do just what she told Matthew, take her shoes, put them in her bag, and go back to the house. She had a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach that Matthew noticed the hickey, but the fact that he didn’t say anything made it even more scary. Was that the reason he just allowed her to go back to the apartment? Did he hate her because of it? She couldn’t help but worry all the way to the apartment building, firstly stopping at the mail boxes to retrieve any mail.

 

Dakota took a deep breath as she stepped up towards the third floor, hearing the same noises she was used to hearing for three years. She quietly made her way to the door and unlocked it, slipping into the apartment.

 

It looked abandoned, for the most part, with how all the windows were broken and the entire main room looking like someone rummaged through everything. The cupboards were open, boxes out on the counter, open and she guessed they were all empty. There was a pile of snacks on the couch, some unopened but the ones that were emptied were discarded and thrown elsewhere. She didn’t dare go into the bedroom, digging into the closet to pull out her small collection of shoes.

 

“I knew you’d come back.”

 

Dakota almost hit her head on a shelf in the closet, jumping at the voice behind her. She shoved a boot in her bag and tried to ignore it, here for a single purpose.

 

Jinx didn’t look too happy about that, shoving her further into the small room and closing the door, leaning against it while Dakota let out a few choice curse words and pounded on the door.

 

“Let me out!” She cried out, offended by how childish he was being right now. “Jinx!”

 

“Not until you behave like a good little slave.” He answered, “That means speaking when your spoken to and doing everything I say.”

 

Dakota gritted her teeth, glaring at the door. “You’re such a conceited little asshole!” She smacked the door again.

 

Jinx’s antennae twitched irritably, resuming his position. “I can stand here all day, human.”

 

Her last line of defense sat in her pocket, the cellphone that could call Matthew. Though the last thing she wanted to hear was Matthew gloat about being right while pointing a gun at Jinx’s head. No, calling for help would only create more trouble and she let out a frustrated huff, dropping her bag and using the moment to calm down.

 

“Let me out, please?” She asked again, this time without any of the vinegar in her voice. It seemed to work, because the doorknob turned only a moment later, the door opening to allow her passage. She stepped out, sighing in relief but now she was faced with the Irken.

 

“Follow.” He commanded, turning and making his way towards the curtained off bedroom. Dakota expected that room to look worse than this, but once she stepped inside she was greeted with a room she never laid eyes on before. The biggest change was all the cables everywhere. Monitors hung off the walls, towers of computers with blinking lights in one corner, everything looked broken and old, and she wondered if he had been stealing the discarded electronics out of the nearby computer repair store. On the bed was her tablet, but it wasn’t her tablet anymore, displaying an OS she never seen in a language she guessed to be his own.

 

“Your race loves to trash anything they deem obsolete.” Jinx explained, resuming his seat on the bed. “I’ve come to realize that the Earth’s technology isn’t primitive, it’s the humans that design it. All I needed was your basic electricity and your pathetic human internet signals to create a passable laboratory. Your species is too far behind its own creations, none of you realize the full potential of what you perceive as ‘top of the line’.” He waved the tablet at her in example, smirking and patting his lap. “Come here.”

 

Dakota cautiously stepped over all the cables, moving to stand next to him. “Uhm…” She looked at his lap, then the bed.

 

The Irken looked irritated, snapping his fingers and motioning around the bed. “Don’t pretend to be stupid when I know you’re not.” He shouted.

 

She glared at him slightly, rounding the bed and climbing up and moving to lie next to him, putting her head on his lap. “What now?” She asked.

 

“I’m working on a way to get myself back to my former glory.” He explained simply, “I want you to tell me the weaknesses of your species and how I can manipulate those weaknesses in order to control your planet.”

 

She shot up in her spot and stared at him, her eyes wide. “W-what?”

 

He shoved her back down on his lap, moving to pet her hair, “Don’t worry, even after I have control of your planet you’ll have a place at my side.”

 

“Are—you being serious…? Because this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” She turned so she was lying on her back, looking up at him. “Humans have been trying to control the planet for eons, it’s even a popular cliche in movies, no one has been able to do that.”

 

The Irken looked down at her, tracing her eyebrows idly, “Explain, female.”

 

Dakota rolled her eyes, “Well, if you really want a good history lesson, search the Earth’s internet. Look up our history. Then, look up the world wars. First World War One, then World War Two. Dictators have been trying to control the world for ages, and a runaway alien that doesn’t even know how to read our language can’t achieve the same thing.”

 

Jinx snorted in amusement, “I can read your primitive language just fine, female. I’ve updated my translator.”

 

“With my tablet, I take it.” She commented dryly, reaching for the aforementioned device before he held it out of her reach.

 

“It’s mine, remember? You own nothing.” He grinned, “Be good and maybe I’ll let you out for a while.”

 

Dakota’s brows furrowed, “What do you mean?”

 

He ran his fingers along her jawline, “What I mean is, you’re not leaving my sight again.” The Irken smirked, the fingers coming to rest on the mark on her neck. “Also, don’t underestimate the Irken race, I can easily take down your human government and become Earth’s first supreme ruler, it just takes some time and finesse, and a perfectly good disguise chip.”

 

Dakota idly felt the phone in her pocket, frowning. “If I’m correct, you came here with nothing but your pack.”

 

He chuckled at that, “Yes, but look at what I’ve been able to create.” He motioned to the room around them. “Earth has evolved far enough to give me access to everything…” He trailed off then, a thought suddenly taking his attention. Dakota moved away from him as he began to peruse the tablet suddenly, his concentration put into the thought he had. She breathed out a sigh of relief, stepping out of the room.

 

She was so close to the closet, all she had to do was grab her bag and go, but as she stepped into the closet she felt herself being shoved further in, crying out as she tripped over her own bag. When she shoved herself off of her coat she turned around to find the alien standing in the remaining space between her and the door.

 

“I told you,” He said quietly, reaching out to stroke her cheek. “You’re not leaving my sight. Now, get prepared. We’re going on a trip.”

 

Dakota shook a little, staring up at him. “W-what are you talking about?”

 

Something clicked, and Jinx’s image was replaced with another, the image of someone she knew all too well. “The coordinates for my escape put me at least one hundred and twenty-eight kilometers south from the landing of the Exile, and if I’m right, then the faint signal of his base means that all his equipment is still active.”

 

Whatever he said went over her head, because she wasn’t focused on that, what bothered her was that he looked just like Matthew. “How did—what—your—“ She didn’t know how to question his disguise. “Why the fuck are you Matthew!” She cried out.

 

Jinx quirked a grin at her, “Genetic ID, human. It’s a basic disguise chip that can be used to duplicate the DNA code of whatever I feed into it. Normally, I would have to kill the being that I’m to disguise myself as…” He let that hang, chuckling at her stricken features at the admission.

 

Dakota was shaking, finding it hard to swallow. She nodded quickly and tried not to panic. “A-alright… but—how, how are we getting there?” Her voice was barely a whisper.

 

“It just happens that I own a valuable human that knows how to do anything.” He quipped, hooking his arms around her waist. “Now be a good girl and figure it out.” He whispered.

 

Dakota squeaked out, not enjoying this at all. She shakily dug into her pocket and pulled out her phone, “Uh…a bus…a cab…Uber…” How much money did she have? She whimpered as she tried to focus, trying to remember her bank account. “What’s cheaper…” She breathed.

 

“The less humans, the better.” He commented, “I want the one the least disgusting.”

 

She nodded, opening up the Uber app and setting up a ride for the only place she knew that was 80 miles up north. She could feel him pressing his mouth against her neck as she scheduled the ride. “It’ll be thirty minutes.” She whispered, shivering when he moved her hair back to kiss the tattoo.

 

Jinx chuckled from behind her, “A good slave gets rewarded.” He praised.

 


 

 

Dakota breathed heavily, coming down from her high after everything he did to her. She reached over to grab the phone when it notified her of the Uber, breathing out nervously and shutting her eyes. Ten minutes.

 

Her legs were still wobbly as she stood, gathering her underwear and clothes to quickly duck into the bathroom. Jinx only watched her in amusement, humming calmly and licking his fingers clean.

 

Dakota turned the faucet on, locking the bathroom door and getting on her underwear, she took her phone out from the pile of clothes and pulled up her texts to Matthew.

 

Help SOS. He looks like you, taking me up north 80miles. Bycoast. HELP!!!

 

She pressed send quickly, praying that his phone wasn’t on silent.

 


 

The phone was on silent, being charged on top of the dresser as Matthew was on his own computer, compressing the video file he got from Dakota’s tablet in the midst of typing out an email to the creator of the cartoon.

 

My name is Matthew Drake, attached to this email is evidence of an Irken crash landing in New Haven on Thursday at 8PM at night. It was taken by a dear friend of mine, her name being Dakota Paige.

 

Here’s where you come in. A long time ago Dakota had been in a severe depression after the deaths of her parents, she got out of it by watching your cartoon. She loved it so much that she tattooed this Irken Symbol to her neck, but at the time we did not know this species was real. I’m typing this to you right now because that alien is now hunting down Dakota. I believe something more is happening, and that she’s not truly safe from the Irken. His height is rivaled the Tallests on your show, if I’m correct, and I believe he’s not here just for shits and giggles.

 

I’m adding my contact number to this email, hoping that you call me as soon as possible. I’m just a high school English teacher with a shotgun and Dakota is a twenty-five year old that lives because of your show. I’m afraid that makes her biased to my words of caution.

 

This email address I found online better be fucking yours, Dib.

 

  • Matthew Drake

Chapter Text

The driver didn’t live in New Haven, but the city forty miles away. She was relieved at that, because every millennial in the town knew who Matthew Drake was. It was the one thing on her mind, being spotted by a college student taking an Uber with her former teacher, a married man who didn’t act anything like himself.

 

The downside of the trip was that Jinx liked to talk, and insisted on gathering information from the driver by asking him questions upon questions, and Dakota had to butt in and claim they were hypothetical questions.

 

She eventually fell sorry for the driver himself, as he had to endure the Irken’s ‘theoretic’ questions for about two hours. Jinx would keep checking the tablet in his hands, somehow still getting a connection between cities and Dakota wondered if he actually hacked into cellular service.

 

The destination was in the middle of the city, and Dakota ignored Jinx’s irate rantings about loud cities as she paid the driver. The man gave her a sympathetic look before leaving them both.

 

“This place smells disgusting, I can’t believe people willingly live in this place.” Jinx said aloud. Dakota grimaced and stepped aside, finally checking her phone and seeing three missed messages.

 

>> OMW.

>> Keep in touch, please!

>> Left without telling Everett, better this way.

 

Dakota tucked her phone away just when she felt a hand on her wrist, stumbling after Jinx as he used the tablet as a map. She took a look at the screen and the small beacon, “How far is it?” She asked.

 

“Uphill from here.” He motioned towards the suburbs uphill from where they were. Dakota’s jaw dropped, yanking herself away from him.

 

“We’re not walking five miles!” She said loudly, “I can’t stay in the sun too long, I’ll faint!”

 

Jinx looked irritated, “Then tell me what to do!”

 

Dakota looked along the street, spotting a yellow cab. She ran up to the edge of the sidewalk and held her arm up before Jinx grabbed her other arm and dragged her back. “What do you think you’re doing? Trying to escape?” He hissed out.

 

“I’m hailing a cab.” She said defensively, “It’ll take you wherever you want to go!”

 

He narrowed his eyes in thought, gradually loosening his grip on her arm. “Proceed.” He said hesitantly.

 

It took her at least three tries, but she eventually got a cab. She got in after Jinx, ignoring the look of disgust on his face. “Can you take us that way?” She pointed uphill, “Five miles.”

 

“What died in here?” Jinx breathed out.

 

“I’m sorry about him.” Dakota added, watching the cabby roll his eyes and take them towards the suburbs. 

 


 

 

Matthew was trying his damndest not to drive over the speed-limit, but he was teasing it every now and then. The last thing he needed was to be pulled over with a loaded weapon in the truck. He glanced at his phone every now and then, waiting for a call, a text, anything. He needed to know where to go, because after one hour, he was going to be left without a lead.

 

The phone began to ring and he felt his heart skip, reaching for it and putting the call on speaker. “Dakota?”

 

“No, no—is this Matthew Drake?” The voice asked.

 

“Speaking, make it fast.” Matthew sounded annoyed now.

 

“You left me an e-mail about an hour ago, this is Dib.”

 

Matthew almost slammed his foot on the brake, pressing down on the horn and sticking his head out, “GET OUT OF THE FUCKING LANE ASSHOLE!”

 

“Is everything alright, Mr. Drake?” Dib sounded bewildered.

 

“Not really, Dib. The fucking alien just kidnapped my kid and took her all the way to Bycoast.” He said it with an edge, feeling the pressure.

 

“Shit—“ Dib went quiet for a bit, “Did you say the Irken was tall?” He asked again.

 

“Yep. Taller than me, Dib. That’s pretty fucking tall.” He honked the horn again. “MOVE IT!”

 

“Are you able to explain to me what happened? I need some information concerning the video.”

 

Matthew sighed, “I was there, no problem. It looked like a shooting star, right? But it fucking wasn’t, it came barreling into the sky and made a sharp turn into town, I followed it all the way to the park. When I got there I see that green fucker creeping all over Dakota’s body and so I grab my shotgun from the truck, he fucking bolts it before I can shoot.”

 

“A shotgun won’t harm an Irken, Mr. Drake.”

 

“So I’m told.” Matthew said Icily. “According to my wife, Dakota found it again when she returned home, it suddenly told her she was property, right? Because of her tattoo!”

 

“Stop there, Mr. Drake. I need details on the tattoo. There’s three different Irken symbols known, can you describe me the tattoo?”

 

Matthew smiled slightly, “Yeah, it looked like an Irken, all black, antennae, and two eyes.”

 

“Not the colorful cartoon-y Irken face?”

 

“That one looked like shit, Dib.”

 

“Yeah, it’s the Irken Military symbol. What Dakota has is the Invader Class symbol, Invaders use it to identify whatever they own. She unwittingly marked herself as chattle to the Irken you’re speaking of. Irken law states that she’s free until an Irken discovers her status and claims her, and Irkens are greedy sonsabitches.”

 

He growled at that, “Not on my fucking watch.”

 

“Mr. Drake I have to warn you that engaging with a fully trained Irken, at Tallest rank, is the stupidest thing you can do. Irkens spend their lives in combat, and the taller they get, the more elite their class gets. This Irken, given his height, could have very well been in the Armada.”

 

“I’ve taken my notes, Dib.” Matthew warned, “I have a couple of super soakers in the back of my truck.”

 

“You’re not entirely stupid then. You…said you’re going to Bycoast?”

 

“That’s where Dakota told me they’re heading. I just don’t know where.”

 

“Fuck!” Dib cursed, “That explains everything! That ship in the video! That’s an escape pod that only travels to pre-inputted coordinates! Bycoast was the city where Zim landed, my childhood home! If he put in those coordinates than he’s trying to put distance between him and the Armada.”

 

Matthew was slowly going faster, “What are you trying to say, Dib?”

 

“The only Irkens that run from the Armada are defects and prisoners, Mr. Drake.”

 

Matthew breathed in heavily, reaching for the phone. “I’m gonna have to call you back.” His voice cracked as he spoke, hanging up on the man and calling his wife. One ring, two rings.

 

“Matthew?” Everett whispered.

 

“Honey, are you hiding any details about that Irken from me? Please tell me now, because I’m halfway to Bycoast because he fucking kidnapped her!”

 

Everett went quiet, “Is that why she wasn’t at home when I got up? What just happened, Matthew?” She asked harshly.

 

“She was up at Six AM with a fucking hickey on her neck rambling about needing her shoes! I shouldn’t have let her go, but you know how stubborn she is!”

 

“You LET HER GO?” She yelled.

 

“How was I supposed to know that the alien would have a wild hair up his ass and make her go two hours up north! She’s an adult, Everett, if she wants to fuck an alien, what am I supposed to do?”

 

Everett ran a string of curses, “Matthew, oh god, I should have said something!” She sounded panicked, “I didn’t tell you because I thought you’d try to fight him and end up hurt or worse—“

 

“Tell me WHAT?” He cried out.

 

“He told Dakota that he was on the run from the Armada, Matthew, because they discovered he killed the Tallests! He’s a murderer!”

 

Matthew slammed his foot on the brake suddenly, cursing out and pressing on the gas, “FUCK!” He slammed his hand on the wheel, “I need to call him back.” He said then, quickly hanging up on his wife and calling Dib.

 

“What is it?” He answered instantly, seemingly on edge.

 

“Hey, remember those Tallests? Red and Purple?” Matthew asked, his voice quaking.

 

“…what about them, Mr. Drake?” Dib sounded worried.

 

“Well, this Irken I’m hunting down? He killed them both and now he has Dakota.”

 


 

The suburbs were familiar to New Haven, with children playing in the distance and the sun up high in the dead center of the sky. It was extra hot today, and Dakota could hear an ice cream truck on another street. She kept a good grip on Jinx’s arm as he traversed deeper into the neighborhood, the tablet in front of him giving him directions towards the faint signal.

 

“It should be here.” He said finally as they came upon a cul-de-sac, both of them standing at the entrance to the group of homes and instantly zoning in on the one two-story house that didn’t look normal. Even though the colors were faded, they were still bright and obscene, teal walls and a deep purple roof, a single front door that was violet in color. The front yard was overrun with weeds and wild grass, covering the overly large lawn gnomes with soulless looking eyes. The sight of the house sent a chill up Dakota’s spine, pinpointing the large tubes that connected the house to the ones next to it, like it was leeching their electricity for further use.

 

“It’s abandoned.” Dakota said feebly, stopping at the sidewalk and gazing past the fence, flinching when she saw something skitter through the wild grass. A squirrel, she hoped.

 

“We’re going in.” Jinx decided, pulling her along as he proceeded down the walkway and towards the door. He grabbed the doorknob and turned it carefully, the door creaking open.

 

“Wait!” She stepped back when he stepped in, wrenching her wrist from his grip. “What if it’s a trap?”

 

The Irken chuckled at that, “I can handle a defective’s security system, female. If it makes you feel better, I won’t let any harm come upon you.” He smiled reassuringly, which on the face of Matthew it gave her more hope than it would Jinx. He extended his arm out to Dakota, flexing the faux tattooed hand and waiting. A sign of trust, she wondered.

 

Dakota looked around, hesitating. She was alone in a city with an alien, Matthew and Everett were miles away. There wasn’t any other choice than to trust him. When she took his hand he gripped it tight, easing her into the house and shutting the door after him.

 

The inside of the house was reminiscent to an abandoned building, or her apartment. No furniture to speak of except for the overly large television that was cracked in the center, as if someone threw something at the screen. The floors were moldy and the walls had vines growing from the windows. The ceiling was… wires. Lots and lots of wires that were still humming faintly, as if in a deep sleep.

 

“There’s nothing here.” Dakota breathed out, stepping further in. Jinx deactivated his disguise and cracked his knuckles, humming slightly and joining her.

 

“No, everything is still here,” He said slowly, “The Exile just abandoned everything.” He cleared his throat, grinning slowly. “Computer, sleep mode off!” He said clearly, an order to whatever was in the house.

 

Something whirred to life and Dakota stopped suddenly, crying out when weapons suddenly activated from the ceiling and aimed themselves at the two. Dakota’s legs buckled from the shock and she fell on her ass.

 

“Intruder alert, instructions are to eliminate!” The voice around them announced, and Dakota covered her head with her arms, shutting her eyes tight.

 

Jinx didn’t look too bothered at the threat, smirking. “Computer, Override code 32-A-290000INV-JINX, to be implemented immediately.”

 

Dakota peeked out to see a laser gun in her face, swallowing thickly at the command and hearing the whirring again, the weapons slowly retreating back to the ceiling. What followed was a merry jingle, like if the computer just rebooted itself.

 

“Override code complete. Welcome, Irken Invader Jinx.” The voice announced.

 

Dakota blinked, looking up at Jinx’s smug expression, his hands on his hips as he surveyed the room.

 

“It’s a little out of date, but it’s good enough for now.” He decided, turning to Dakota and reaching down to take her hand, “Come, let me show you around your new home.”

 

“New home?” Dakota’s voice broke, stumbling forward as he walked her through the house and crying out when he pulled her into his arms. “I don’t live here!” She shouted.

 

The Irken smirked, “You do now. Don’t worry, my lovely human, I’ll provide you with your basic needs.” He sounded so happy, “Computer, take me to the heart of the base.”

 

Dakota yelped when the floor suddenly opened up under them, the Irken drawing her even closer to him as a platform lowered them downward. Her eyes widened at the sight and she stilled, shock overwhelming her as they sank further down into the base.

 

Jinx took that moment to coax her lips open, pressing his mouth to hers and kissing her slowly. His fingers trailed back under her hair to trace the tattoo, breaking their kiss and chuckling. “You have everything you need here, with me.” He said breathily.

 

Dakota released a ragged breath when he broke their kiss, forgetting herself just slightly. She had to push herself away once the platform stopped, stepping as far from him as possible. “My home is with Matthew.” She stammered.

 

Hearing the human male’s name made the Irken annoyed, stepping off the platform and following her. “Do I have to remind you that I own you, and not that male?” He questioned.

 

She glared heatedly at him, “You don’t own me!” She cried out, shoving him back suddenly. “I never belonged to you, I don’t even belong to Matthew! I don’t belong to anyone!”

 

“I beg to differ.” The Irken said haughtily, “I can easily make you bend to my will—”

 

“Turning me on and fucking me doesn’t mean that you own me!” She argued, “It just means that I have a sick sexual fascination with you and that’s all!” She continued to step away, “I have a fucking home, Jinx. I have a fucking home, and a job, and friends, a fucking family. I had so much before you came along!” She continued, tearing up. “All I wanted was a little excitement, not to be upended and taken away from my life! While maybe an adventure with you sounds fun and cool, I have responsibilities, I have doctors appointments. I have rent to make and medications to take—I can’t survive without my medications!” Her voice was cracking. “I can’t just drop my life for you.”

 

The Irken was quiet as she spoke, seemingly in thought. He listened to her hysterical words and said nothing, turning away once she was done and making his way back to the platform. “Computer, don’t allow my property to leave this level.” He said finally.

 

Dakota stepped forward, “W-what?” She continued to follow him, breaking out into a run as the platform rose him away from her. “Jinx!” She screamed, “Jinx wait!” She tried again, “Matthew’s going to find me!” She cried out, “You can’t do this!”

 

Jinx could still hear her, standing still until he reached back up to the next level and zeroing in on the computer console nearby. He strode towards it and ran his hands along the controls, shivering slightly. It felt good to be back among his own technology. He pressed down on a button and hummed. “Computer, activate the exterior security sentinels and alert me to any oncoming humans, especially the males.” He commanded.

 

“Exterior Security Sentinels online and scanning.”

 

“Good, now, direct me to the laboratory. I need a new disguise chip.” He continued to play with the controls, taking notes of the map it was showing him and where everything was. He clicked his tongue in interest and left the console towards the direction he needed to go, smiling just slightly.

 

He had all the time in the world.

 


 

 

“I’m texting you the address you need to go, but I have to warn you about Zim’s base. It was left abandoned, and if that Irken has gotten there then he may have taken the base over in his own name.”

 

Matthew groaned, “Well great.” He said irritably, waiting for the tank to be filled as he sat in the gas station. “Just tell me how to get in there.”

 

“Not anyone can infiltrate through Irken security, it requires knowledge of Irken technology and some finesse, I’m asking you again to hold off until we meet up.” There was shuffling in the background, the sound of a car door opening. “The fugitive won’t be leaving Earth any time soon, Dakota is perfectly safe for now. If he thinks of her as his property, he’s going to take very good care of her.”

 

“While that sounds just peachy keen to you, Dib, it’s kinda hard sitting by while a killer alien is fucking someone I care about!” He almost shouted.

 

“Please, Matthew, just hold off until 8PM. I’m heading towards the airport as we speak. You can go there, gather reconnaissance, but do not step foot inside the fence, you will literally be shot on sight. Meet me at the City Airport tonight and I’ll help you as much as I can.”

 

“Fine.” Matthew stressed out the final word, none too happy about being forced to keep away. He hung up after the pump clinked, taking it out of the gas tank and putting it back before putting the cap back on. He groaned again, raking his fingers through his hair and trying to think. A shotgun wouldn’t do anything…

 

He got back into his truck and shut the door, calling up his wife again.

 

“Did you find her?” Everett asked.

 

“Yeah, she’s being held hostage in an alien control base somewhere in the suburbs. I’m going up there now to check it out.”

 

“Don’t do anything rash, Matthew. Remember, you have children.”

 

“Are you still at work?” He asked.

 

“No, I called one of the volunteers and they’re going to close up. Tabitha and Abigail are swimming at the pool. I told them Daddy had a school function.”

 

He smiled slightly, “Good, I don’t want them to worry. I might not be coming back today.”

 

“Matthew…”

 

“To be honest I’m not sure when I’m coming back, but I know it’s not without Dakota.” He corrected himself, turning a corner.

 

“You really care about her, don’t you?” Her voice sounded upset.

 

Matthew ran a hand down his face, blinking, “You know, Everett.”

 

“What if it were me, Matthew?” She asked after a moment of silence. “Would you do the same?”

 

He pulled on a smile, “Of course I would! In a heartbeat, but we both know too well that it wouldn’t happen. Honey, you would have kicked that thing’s ass before it tried anything.”

 

She laughed hesitantly, “I love that you think highly of me.”

 

“I love you, that’s why.” Matthew said, pausing for a while, “I love her, too. Both of you!”

 

Everett sighed, “I understand, Matthew. I’ve…come to understand that a long time ago.”

 

“Don’t wait up for me.”

 

“I’ll call the school and tell them you had a family emergency, just don’t get yourself killed. If anything, do that.”

 

He laughed nervously, looking down the street at the cul-de-sac. “Don’t worry, honey. I have someone helping me, just tell the kids I love them. Make sure they know Daddy’s about to go off fighting aliens, they’ll love that.”

 

“Just come back home in one piece, with Dakota.” She said firmly.

 

“I love you.” He repeated, finally hanging up. He stared at the house intently for a moment, breathing out a ragged sigh.

 


 

There was no reception. Nothing, not even wifi. She was so far underground that her phone couldn’t pick up anything. It was cold, too, and quiet. Not the quiet she liked, either, it was an eerie quiet that came with a humming of the machines all over the area. She didn’t know how large the level was, but she had walked until her feet began to get tired. There was nothing she could find that could tell her where she was, and the only accessible room seemed to be something remotely similar to a bathroom. She was thankful for the smallest things, at least, but after wandering around the level for the fiftieth time she had discarded her shoes, wishing that she just kept on Everett’s flip flops instead.

 

The computer refused to answer her questions, but she knew it was listening. She wondered if it was watching her wander aimlessly, feeling increasingly frustrated that she was being watched. It was starting to mess with her, the confinement. She broke into tears at least three different times, and had a panic attack just once. There wasn’t any telltale semblance of time down there, not after her phone had lost all power. The last thing she knew, it was 3PM. She had been down there for over two hours, but 3PM was so long ago.

 

She hated Jinx for doing this. It was just like him to do that, to punish her for actually wanting to go home. Was this a punishment? It had to be. She wasn’t being the good little slave he wanted her to be. What did he expect? A few kisses and a loving caress and suddenly she’d be willing to follow him anywhere? She felt disgusted with herself for enjoying his touch. She was right, he was her sick sexual fascination, and it was probably more than that. She had been diagnosed with manic symptoms…

 

She ended up crying again, wracking herself with ugly sobs as she filled the silence with her own cries. It was messing her up, Jinx was messing her up. He was a horrible piece of shit that managed to make her forget how horrible he was with his sexy words and sultry actions. Matthew was never going to find her, he wouldn’t know where to go. If he even did get here, Jinx would probably kill him without telling her. Either way, she was trapped here.

 

She curled up, exhausted from crying. It always took so much out of her, and it always hurt. It always hurt to cry, ever since the accident, crying was physically painful. How many hours was it now? Was there light outside? Why did she have to leave? Why did Matthew allow her to leave? Did she actually leave to get her shoes or did she leave to go back to Jinx? Was she here because he forced her to come or was she here because secretively she wanted to be here?

 

She didn’t really know anything anymore, her mind continuing to process all sorts of thoughts she couldn’t find the answers to, because the answers weren’t clear to her anymore.

 

A sound made her flinch, and she quickly got up at the sound of footsteps. She breathed out a desperate cry, standing up on weak legs and moving towards the sound but her knees gave out before she could step any further.

 

Jinx could see her desperation, the wide, tired eyes that stared at him with hope and fear. He made his way over to her and caught her when she threw herself at him.

 

“Please, please don’t leave me.” She whimpered, trying not to cry again. “I won’t yell again, don’t leave me.” She begged.

 

Jinx knelt down, reaching over to pet her and humming. “Do you trust me?” He asked.

 

She hesitated, hating the question. It hurt to think anymore. “I can’t answer…” She murmured. “It…it hurts to think.”

 

The honest admission didn’t seem to bother him, and he chuckled. “You see, this is how we ended up here.” He said softly, “You just keep thinking too much. All you do is think, female. You think about all the bad things and how everything isn’t right.”

 

Her lip quivered, “But—“

 

“Ah, ah.” He pressed a finger to her lips, “Don’t think anymore. Thinking only leads to problems, so let me do all the thinking.” He smiled, leaning in to kiss her. “Can you be a good girl?”

 

She kissed back desperately, whimpering. “I’ll be good…” She whispered, finding comfort in his fingers tracing the back of her neck. He smiled at the words and kissed her again, pressing into it and coaxing her mouth open, drinking in the small sounds she made. He broke it off before anything else could happen, pulling back suddenly and letting out a low growl. Dakota yelped out when he picked her up, carrying her back towards the platform. It lowered, taking them even further down to another level, stopping at the floor.

 

It was easy to manipulate something if you had the time and patience for it, and the human was fragile enough to control already. All he needed to do was implement the right praises and punishments to get what he wanted. He already liked what he returned to, the female overwhelmed by her own thoughts to the point of breaking. Hearing her relinquish control aroused something deep inside of him, a feeling he had when he finally got what he wanted the first time.

 

Control was mesmerizing, as was power. Having power over his own, having power over others, that’s what turned him on. The minute he discovered he could control an entire planet, all he needed to do was wait for his moment. The bad thing about waiting to become a ruler was that it was a long wait, as Irkens lived longer than anything. He wasn’t that patient.

 

If an idiot like Zim could kill two different Tallests, then how hard would it be for someone like him? It wasn’t hard at all, actually, they were so coddled that they grew perfectly stupid, assuming that they had nothing to worry about in terms of threats. Zim was gone, so they could reign in peace.

 

In hindsight, he was a little too ambitious. He killed them thinking that no one would know any better, when in reality his ‘accident’ couldn’t really be an accident. He took every precaution imaginable but one, the investigation team was his downfall. No one investigated the last two deaths, so why would they investigate this one? Nope, too ambitious.

 

No matter, he was too far out of the Empire’s reach to worry about their retribution. They’ll get bored looking for him and give up eventually. He had a new purpose now. Earth, an obscure planet with mostly stupid inhabitants. He could easily overtake this planet, rebuild his defenses to overtake another. Being in control was the best high he could imagine.

 

Take this human, for example. She provided him with a challenge, a female that refused him at every turn until he found her weakness. A nice and satisfying weakness that he could coax out of her to turn her into such a good little slave. It was her fault for marking herself as property. No matter, she was his now, because anyone else would only neglect her, leave her for dead. He was actually saving her from a horrible fate.

 

She was a pleasing human, submitting herself to his ministrations, begging for his touch. She moved perfectly against him while he drank in her moans and sighs. He kissed her again, deeply, groaning into her mouth as she rocked up against his organ. The way she felt was incredible, her body inviting him to do whatever he wanted. He continued to mark her flesh, needing to make sure everyone knew who she belonged to. His movements increased from her pleas, driving her to cry out his name, her walls clenching around him and coaxing out his own climax. He found himself drifting in a satisfying realm of pleasure until his pack sent down a shock to his system, making him alert once more. Jinx chuckled breathily and placed another kiss to her lips, feeling her breathing lull into a steady rhythm as she drifted off into a sleep cycle. He looked pleased at that, deciding to stay nestled inside of her for a while longer.

 


 

The plane landed at 7:45PM, the passengers filtering into the airport and heading like cattle towards the baggage claim. Among the passengers was a lithe man with a curious haircut and an equally curious trench coat. A long, leather one that billowed when he walked and commanded some sort of presence. He stopped at the baggage claim to study the area, zoning in on a tall man with tired features, sporting two defined tattoo sleeves that went down to the man’s knuckles. Dib seemed to quirk a grin at the sight, heading right for him and pushing up his glasses.

 

“Matthew, I take it?” The text was clear in his mind, look for the tattoos.

 

Matthew stared at the scythe coming from the man’s haircut, proceeding to take in the rest of him and stopping on the graphic tee that depicted a ghost. “Dib.” He nodded to himself, “Didn’t expect anything less.”

 

Dib laughed slightly at that, “Yeah, the hair. I had it since childhood.”

 

“Had the tattoos since college.” Matthew raised up a tattooed hand. “Small talk’s better off in the truck, Dib.” He said then, pointing back to the entrance.

 

“Hold on, I brought some things.” Dib darted towards the baggage claim, scanning the luggage and capturing a large black roller.

 

Matthew looked impatient and stressed, holding his tongue about the matter at hand because they were in public and he didn’t want to be made out like a lunatic. He waited until Dib was back at his side before leading him out of the airport.

 

“Glad to see that you’re in one piece.” Dib commented, “I thought you’d just run in there with a shotgun as soon as you hung up.”

 

Matthew grabbed his keys from his pocket. “The thought crossed my mind, but I’ve been known to practice restraint.”

 

Dib nodded, “Well, thank you for being smarter than most of the human population.” He said honestly.

 

Matthew pointed out his truck, which sat higher than most of the cars. “I have this theory, that you created that cartoon as a way of warning the populace. Tell me, am I right or was I just seeing things?”

 

Dib let out a loud bark of laughter, “Holy shit! You actually hit the nail on the head. Christ, I’ve been waiting for this day…” He smiled genuinely at him, “It was my second plan after my first one went to shit. Never outright tell people that aliens exist, Matthew. I did that for five years only to be called a loser and a weirdo. I made the cartoon because I thought, if no one believed the truth, then they would probably believe a ‘work of fiction’. That’s how people work, they only believe what they want.”

 

“Motherfucker.” Matthew breathed, taking Dib’s roller and putting it in the truck bed. He swung himself into the truck and laughed as Dib struggled to get into it before finally climbing in, breathing out when he finally buckled himself.

 

“You own a shotgun and drive a huge truck, what, do you hunt too?” He breathed.

 

“I make deer jerky in the fall.” He shrugged, grinning as he pulled out of the parking lot.

 

Dib nodded quietly, thinking. “I’m curious, can you tell me more about your friend, Dakota? I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.”

 

Matthew thought for a moment, letting out a tired laugh. “Well, shit… Dakota was a freshman in high school when I met her. I’m an AP English teacher at the high school she went. Back then, she was very bright. Top of her class, she’s smarter than a whip and driven. She wanted to be a Scientist, like her parents.”

 

Dib nodded, withholding a question that he wanted to ask.

 

“It was during the end of sophomore year, the accident.” He explained, keeping his eyes on the road. “There was an explosion at the test site ten miles out of town, they were all in there. She was an intern at the laboratory they worked at, and she was the only one found alive. Five scientists were killed, two of them were her parents.

 

“I don’t know where she spent the summer, but at the start of Junior year she came back. I knew something was off, though. She wasn’t like she used to be. She…changed. She lost interest in everything, she had attacks. A student could be talking about something else entirely, but if she heard him say something specific, it would trigger a panic attack. In the middle of the year she began skipping her classes. I grew concerned, so I took it upon myself to investigate.

 

“She was living with foster parents at the time, a couple that took her in at the last minute. She told them she didn’t want to leave the school, during summer. I visited them and they had no idea what was wrong, and the wife begged me to take her. I did my best to get through to Dakota, offering her a place to live, because she now had a time limit. Come graduation, she was out of a home. She refused my help at every turn, and I grew desperate.

 

“I told my wife everything, and begged her to help. My wife, she’s a great woman. She doesn’t back down from a challenge and loves to help people in need. I don’t know how she did it, but she got Dakota to move in with us, and then it was like her mission to get Dakota back on track. She stayed with us for five years until she felt stable enough to move out. I didn’t want her to, but she insisted on making it out on her own…to try and get back to normal.”

 

Dib looked outside the window, “You really care about her, do you?”

 

Matthew knew where he was going with that, “My wife caught on quicker than I did, at the time. We live in a fucking traditional town, Dib. Hillbillies that believe in Jesus and go to church every Sunday, no tattoos, no piercings. Just Jesus and Jack Daniels. We keep our private lives private, and that includes our beliefs. We trust each other enough to love other people. I sometimes wonder if…if I had just let Dakota know before all this started, would she still be with that alien now?”

 

“Time travel isn’t a thing, Matthew.” Dib said sympathetically. “You’ll have your chance, we just need to prepare.”

 

Matthew drove them to the parking lot of a shoddy motel, leading Dib towards the door he parked in front of and unlocking it. One bed sat in the middle of the room, with two super-soakers and a shotgun sitting atop of it. Dib dragged in his roller and propped it up on a counter, clicking it open to reveal blueprints and a laptop nestled within paper files.

 

“I brought everything I had on Zim’s base, every weak point and a map of the entire area. It’s easy to get in, the hard part is getting out once you get underground.”

 

Matthew frowned, “It extends underground?”

 

“For miles, Matthew.” Dib said as he unfolded the blueprints, exposing the lower levels. “It’s pretty impressive once you go in there, I got lost there a number of times.”

 

“I’m only interested on how to get in and out, I don’t really give a shit about exploring.” Matthew said lowly, studying the blueprints.

 

“Well, if we’re going to be direct, then here.” Dib took out a small wristwatch, handing it to him. “This is a communicator, which has a nice tracker built in so I can find you instantly. I’ll show you where to go, and I’ll do my best to create a distraction for the Irken so he won’t follow you.”

 

Matthew took the communicator and replaced his own watch with it, “Is there anything else I need to know?”

 

Dib looked grim, “Finding Dakota is one thing, but given what you told me, her fragile mental state is a cause for concern. There’s a chance that the Irken could have used that to his advantage.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Dib looked sick having to explain it, looking Matthew directly in the eyes. “He could have easily manipulated her into his willing slave.”

Chapter Text

The needles always hurt, every time she moved her arms they dragged the wires pinned into her. Her eyes watered, but a kind hand moved to pat her head softly.

 

“You’re doing good, honey.” Her mother praised. “Just a little bit longer, okay?”

 

The heart monitor she was hooked up to kept a steady rhythm while her father tinkered with a machine next to it, giving her a reassuring smile and a thumbs up when he got it working.

 

“Brainwave function is normal.” He said then, “Everything’s working pretty well.”

 

“Temarodine works, then.”

 

“Mmyep, nothing abnormal so far.”

 

The girl smiled at the words, tearing up again and seeing her mother’s proud face.

 

“You hear that honey? You’re going to do great!”

 

“I still want to do some tests with other drugs.” A different voice, a different man, stepped into view, adjusting his goggles.

 

Her father frowned, “Everything’s working well already, sir. Why should we test other drugs? We’ve reached our goal.”

 

“We haven’t tested against other medications,” The man said sternly, “Temarodine and Effitracin Doxitamine are a good combination, but we need to expand our research.”

 

“Professor—“ Her mother tried.

 

“You came to me to fix your problem, did you not?” The man questioned, “I’m not satisfied with the results.”

 

The girl looked from her mother to her father, noting their dower looks. They exchanged glances and nodded slowly, surrendering.

 

“Understood, Professor.”

 

Dakota’s eyes opened slowly, her hands gripping the sheets that were bundled around her. The further away the dream became the more confused she was at the tears escaping her eyes. She slowly sat up, brushing away the tears from her cheeks. She slowly looked around the room she was in, taking note of the purples and magentas of the machines beeping around her and the humming of electricity overhead. She gradually moved herself to the edge of the bed, gathering the top sheet around her nude form and standing. She quietly followed the faint humming from the other end of the room, smiling slightly when the Irken came into view. Tubes were protruding from his back, feeding into the ceiling while he was bent over working on his own pack. She froze just slightly, staring at the gatherings of tubes and feeling a wave of nausea at a memory that flashed through her head.

 

She steadied herself, prying her eyes away from the sight and continuing to step towards him, finding his arm and feeding her hand around it so she could peek in on what he was doing. Jinx was deep in concentration, holding a tool that sparked every so often, a laser pen that melted wires into metal.

 

“What are you doing?” She asked quietly.

 

“Turning off the reception signal connected to the Control Brain, it disconnects me to automatic hardware updates but I can easily download them from the computer. It’s an illegal offense but it allows me to do more to my pack than what I was previously limited to.”

 

Dakota bit her lip, the sudden realization of what he was doing hitting her. “It’s like jailbreaking your phone.” She said then.

 

He paused for a moment, looking at her. “Explain.”

 

Dakota smiled slightly, “It’s something that frees a phone from the restrictions of its manufacturer, allowing people to install third-party programs or just use it elsewhere instead of the carrier it was once tethered to. It’s a risky thing to do.”

 

He chuckled at the explanation, smirking and resuming his work. “You’re smarter than you make yourself out to be, human.”

 

“It’s just common sense…” She shrugged lightly, watching him finish up and plug the pack into the computer to run a program. He moved away from it then, grinning and pulling her close to him so he could dip down and explore her mouth. While he did that he took the sheet in his hands and pulled them away to expose her nudity. “You don’t need that.” He purred.

 

She was left flushed, reaching for it, “It’s cold in here…” She whispered.

 

The Irken growled playfully and lifted her up to cradle her against him, his hands gripping her thighs. “I can keep you warm, little girl.” He quipped, dipping his head down to lick her neck. She mewled happily and pressed up against him, realizing that yes, he was indeed warm, especially what was slicking up against her folds and teasing its way into her. She breathed out a sigh as he pushed into her fully, his arms helping her move against his slick girth. “Please,” She moaned out, holding onto him.

 

Jinx chuckled breathlessly and walked her back to the bed, easing himself into a sitting position and settling her down. “You know what to do.” He smirked, caressing her cheek. Dakota took a deep breath, rocking her hips against him and groaning softly, leaning up as he lowered her head to kiss her deeply. She continued to move herself against him, sinking herself down and gasping further into his mouth. Her hands were flat against his chest, dipping through his robes to feel his skin. Jinx slipped his hands around her waist eagerly, moving her himself, up and down roughly and eliciting louder cries from her mouth. He purred in appreciation and continued the thrusts, the force of her body pushing down onto him making her dizzy every time his girth brushed up against her sensitive spot. She began to pant, holding onto his shoulders for support and feeling her body shudder from the pleasure. Her orgasm was building up and from how he was hissing out at every thrust, he was dangerously close. With one more motion Dakota screamed, the Irken howling out his own orgasm as they reached their own climax. She ended up shaking violently, her body twitching from the intensity while he hunched over her, seemingly out of it.

 

“J…inx?” Dakota whispered, gazing at his unfocused eyes and feeling for a heartbeat until she remembered that there wasn’t such a thing. She bit her lip and looked back towards where they came from. He continued to relax in his post coital daze over her until something above began to whirr to life, a shock of electricity jolting down from the cables in the ceiling and jolting his body back to life. She screamed again as the electrical current captured her along with him, her breath being taken away by the shock.

 

“Intruder alert, implementing security lockdown.”

 

Jinx roused, growling fiercely at the announcement. “WHAT?” He cried out. He moved Dakota off of him quickly, tossing her onto the bed as he rose to his feet. Dakota bounced, staring after him with wide eyes.

 

“Jinx!” She shouted, getting up to follow him.

 

“Computer, take my slave to the lower levels.” He commanded quickly, ripping the cables off of his pack and putting it back on. Dakota was nearly at his side until the floor gave out from under her, and she cried out as she fell through. She continued to scream until a pair of thick cables shot out to break her fall, leaving her heart beating quickly as she realized what was going on.

 

“Matthew.” She gasped.

 


 

They had just descended the elevator when Matthew heard the scream, breaking the first rule of the mission. Don’t make a sound. He shouted out Dakota’s name and tripped the sensory alarms, causing Dib’s hand to smack his own face as the alarms began.

 

“We were so close!” He hissed out.

 

“That was Dakota!” Matthew shouted over the sirens, slamming his fist against the elevator door, “Open the fuck up!” He demanded.

 

“We need to change tactics.” Dib shouted out, looking up to the grate overhead and jumping up to grab it, “Give me a hand!” He kicked Matthew in the back. “Hurry up.” The elevator was still going down. Matthew quickly took a hold of Dib’s legs and lifted him up, the other man wrenching the grate free. He popped it open, raising his head up to the elevator shaft and taking note of the markings. “Hold on tight.” He instructed, reaching into the utility belt he had on and pulled out a grappling hook, keeping aim for a certain marking and firing it forward. The hook fired out and pierced through the metal, the cord retracting and Dib had to hang on for dear life as he was pulled out, along with Matthew, of the elevator. He grunted, as Matthew wasn’t a lightweight. “Climb me!” He shouted.

 

“WHAT?” Matthew cried out, staring up at him. The cord was hooked to Dib’s waist but that’s all that was holding them. How strong was that fucking cord? He cursed under his breath and did as he was told.

 

Dib yelped when he was accidentally groped, waiting for Matthew to get to eye level before taking a firm grip to the cable with one hand, reaching down to unhook himself and hook up Matthew. “You can let go now, this thing can hold down Bigfoot if it needed to.” He swung his body towards a ledge on the other side, under a vent shaft. Matthew watched while Dib moved like an acrobat, someone who was used to maneuvering the area as he swung himself up to the shaft. “This will take us to the control room.” He said quickly, “Now climb up and grab my hand.” He reached down towards the man.

 

Matthew didn’t have to, he really didn’t, but he looked down the elevator shaft that looked dark and bottomless and he regretted looking down in the first place. “Shit.” He gripped the cord for dear life, pulling himself up towards where Dib was and reaching. He had to swing himself to do so, growling out as he used his feet to shove himself from one side to the other, grasping onto Dib’s arms and finally letting go of the cord. He shut his eyes quickly, because Dib pulled on Matthew as hard as possible and letting their weight shift to take them down the next shaft. Matthew yelled as he tumbled downwards, crashing bodily into the other man and hissing out in pain.

 

“I really hope this plan is worth it, Dib!” He shouted, right before the vent grate came apart and they collided into the floor below them.

 

“It’s worth it.” Dib moaned painfully, rolling over on his side and coughing from the blow to his stomach. They were in the level he wanted them to be, and he pulled himself up, trudging towards the large control console. He shrugged off his backpack and pulled out a heavy duty metal laptop, turning it on and hooking the machine up to the computer.

 

Matthew wheezed, grimacing as he got up on his knees and rubbing his back painfully. He gradually got up and fell quiet. The only sound he could hear was the hum of electronics under the vigorous tapping of Dib’s fingers to the laptop.

 

“Aaaand…” Dib pressed down on a key, grinning when the hum stopped suddenly, the lights flickering off as the machines powered down. “We’re secured. In a moment the auxiliary power will activate only for the elevators and oxygen, but the computer will be fully offline and the Irken won’t have an upper hand.”

 

Matthew breathed a sigh of relief, “Good.” He unstrapped a smaller gun from his own utility belt, a water gun, looking around. “Let’s look for Dakota.”

 

Dib took a step forward, stopping suddenly and holding his hand up to stop Matthew. There was movement, he could hear it. The auxiliary lights began to slowly glow to life and Dib fumbled for his own weapon. “BEHIND YOU!”

 

“GAH!” Matthew whipped around, stumbling backwards and coming face to face with the Irken. Jinx’s eyes were narrowed, focused only on the human in front of him.

 

“I regret not having sliced you open when I saw you the first time.” The Irken said lowly, stalking towards him.

 

Matthew glared at him, “You don’t fucking scare me, asshole! I was in the marines! I EAT SHIT LIKE YOU FOR LUNCH.”

 

“Matthew!” Dib shouted, pulling him back. “Stick to the plan.” He shoved the man away, steadying his gun on Jinx. He didn’t like the way Jinx was following Matthew, running over to shield the man and pulling on the trigger.

 

Jinx scowled, the laser barely scraping past his cheek. It was enough to distract the Irken away from Matthew as he zeroed in on the other man. “Oh you’re dead.” He growled.

 

Matthew bolted when he had the chance, focusing on finding who he came here for. She wouldn’t he here, no, not in the same room. He would have placed her elsewhere, and as he found the elevator he slammed his hand down onto the console, hoping Dib was right in his theory.

 


 

 

Something about the atmosphere made Dakota edgy. The stagnate silence and creaks here and there were reminiscent of a moment in time she wanted to forget. She managed to find an article of clothing to wear, a smaller fitting lab coat in the massive laboratory she was trapped inside. She swallowed thickly as she stepped all along the level, slowly running her hand along the glass and its etchings in an alien language. There were tubes all over, with green liquid lit by dimmed glows. An array of chemicals were stacked on shelving and within reach were glass tubes and beakers.

 

She was starting to hear things that weren’t there, faint sounds of people working in a laboratory, bubbling liquids and beeping of machines. She stopped at a table, looking at a jar of purple goo curiously. She reached over to touch it, only to snap her hand away as if the glass might cut her. She breathed out softly, a faint sound falling from her lips as she stared at the crack in the jar, a crack that wasn’t there a second ago.

 

“Increase the dosage.” A voice demanded.

 

“Increasing the dosage will harm her!” Her mother cried out.

 

“She’s still exhibiting abnormal signs, increase the dosage or I’ll do it for you.”

 

Dakota flinched in place at the sound of glass popping, turning sharply to see the tubes behind her collapsing and the liquid inside of it dripping down over the counter. She let out a cry and jumped out of the way of the broken glass, stumbling through the lab and holding her head as the popping continued. She tried desperately to avoid the glass, every one she ran into cracking or breaking from her mere presence. She tried to think, but it was hard to. She clenched her head, feeling a familiar sensation. Something was wrong, something was off.

 

She didn’t take her medications this morning.

 

Dakota shook her head, mumbling numbers to herself and counting her fingers. When did she last take them? The day before? Was she missing more than one day? No, she would have remembered, right? She continued to think as she tried desperately to avoid the glass, stepping back as her body started shaking. She ran into something, jumping and turning around to face a large glass pane, watching it crack in small sections until shattering all around her. Dakota screamed, breaking into a run, her feet catching on shards of glass and slicing up.

 

“Dakota, Dakota, calm down honey. Please!” Her mother cried.

 

“She’s becoming unstable, it’s time to terminate the experiment!” The voice shouted.

 

“Terminate—you can’t! She’s our daughter!” Her father screamed.

 

“She’s a threat to the planet!”

 

“DAKOTA!”

 

Dakota slammed into something, crying out again until strong arms wrapped around her waist, a soothing hand pressing against her face as she screamed.

 

“Hey, hey kid. Shh, it’s okay. It’s okay!” Matthew’s voice was enough to break her from her cries, the young woman opening her eyes but panicking again, trying desperately to get out of his arms. It could be a trick, it could be Jinx. Matthew wasn’t here, he couldn’t—

 

“I got you, kid.” Matthew said again, hugging her close until the struggling became weaker, the woman slumping against him and crying out for a different reason.

 

“I-is it you?” She asked brokenly. “Please, I need proof.”

 

Matthew reached out to expose his hand to Dakota, pointing to a single tattoo on his knuckle. “You picked that one, right? The same day you got yours.” He pat her head comfortingly, “Also the same day I let you have a shot of Jack because of the pain. Remember, Everett wasn’t all too happy about that.”

 

The memory came back to her, slowly, how she was so happy to get a tattoo on that day, but underestimating the pain that came with it and how he held her hand all through it. She relaxed in his arms slightly, suddenly glancing around. If he was here, then where was Jinx…?

 

Matthew slowly let go of her, taking a hold of her hand. “We don’t have much time. Dib can only hold him off for so long.” He explained shortly, leading her the direction he came. Dakota followed without hesitation, ignoring the pain in her feet. He led her to an elevator, pressing onto a panel and bringing her in with him.

 

“She’s with me.” Matthew said quickly into his wrist, pressing on a series of buttons he held to memory.

 

“You better hurry.” Dib’s voice sounded worse for wear, hushed as if he was hiding. “He ran for it when she started screaming.”

 

Dakota clutched at her chest, feeling another panic attack threatening her. “Matthew—“ Her breath shuddered, crying out when the glass to the control panel cracked and clinging tight to him.

 

Matthew flinched, staring at the panel with confusion while still giving Dakota reassuring pets to her head. It felt like an eternity, the elevator rising to the topmost floor, but once it finally halted he gripped her hand and quickly walked her out of the room. “It’s going to be okay, Dakota. We’re almost there, we’re almost there.”

 

Dakota tried to breathe deeply, “I don’t feel too good, Matthew.” She said weakly.

 

The door was so close, Matthew could already smell the night sky. He didn’t want to wait, but he had to. Dib was still in there. “Are you almost out?” He asked in the communicator. “I would really like to get the fuck out of here soon, Dib.”

 

Static answered him, a choppy voice barely able to make out words replying to him. Matthew cursed out and lead Dakota to the door. “Wait in the truck, I’ll be there soon.” He instructed.

 

Dakota hesitated, staring outside like it was all a trap. She began to hyperventilate, shaking her head. “I can’t—“

 

Matthew took out the water gun at his waist and shoved it in her hands, “You’re a strong girl, Dakota. We’ll be back home soon, okay? Tabitha and Abigail will want to see you. Everett is waiting for us.” He whispered reassuringly, nudging her further.

 

The words helped, and she began running, heading to the large white truck she knew all too well and wrenching it open to climb in. She was still shaking, tears threatening to fall again. She quickly turned on the radio, hoping to distract herself.

 

There was no sign of the Irken anywhere, and that disturbed Matthew. He could feel the pressure, checking outside every now and then until the elevator doors opened. He assumed a boxing stance until the door opened, Dib barreling out and grabbing Matthew’s outstretched fist. “Now’s not the time to fight!” He said quickly.

 

A mechanical whirr broke overhead and the lights flickered on, power coming back to the base. Matthew didn’t wait, breaking out into a sprint as laser guns descended from the ceiling and began firing.

 

Dakota screamed when Dib jerked the door open, shooting his face with the water inside her gun. He sputtered and coughed, the action catching Dakota off guard before he climbed in. Matthew followed, seeing Dib’s wet face and throwing out a quick laugh as he slammed the door and started up the truck.

 

“Something’s wrong.” Dib said wearily, “We need to get as far from here as possible.”

 

“Back to the motel?” Matthew backed out of the cul-de-sac.

 

“Further.” Dib said anxiously as Dakota turned to peek out the back window, crying out suddenly.

 

Matthew spotted it instantly, the Irken Voot taking off out of the house’s roof. “Shit!” He slammed on the gas suddenly, taking a different road.

 

“Try to lose him!” Dib cried out.

 

“Why does he want her so badly?” Matthew shouted out, “Just because a fucking tattoo?”

 

“Irkens are possessive, it could be because of anything!” Dib cried, hanging onto the door as Matthew made a sharp turn.

 

Dakota couldn’t tear her eyes away from the window, staring directly at the voot chasing the three of them. She placed her hand on the window only to feel it crack under her touch, making her cry out and pull back quickly. “No, no, no, no,” She murmured.

 

Dib saw what happened, staring wide-eyed at the woman as she started to panic. He opened his mouth to speak but suddenly Matthew swerved, nearly hitting an oncoming car. “FUCK!”

 

“Get out of the city!” Dib said quickly, filing his questions for a later time.

 

Matthew did what he could under pressure, going as fast as he could in the truck while keeping his eyes on the rear view mirror. Between the cul-de-sac and downtown he picked up at least three cop cars, but the spaceship tailing him quickly deterred all of them, causing one cop car to slam into a pole while another spun out in another lane.

 

“The exit, there, that one will take you out!” Dib cried out, taking note of a highway sign.

 

“HOLD ON.” Matthew called out, turning sharply once again. Dakota screamed when they hit oncoming traffic and ducked her head under her arms, Dib holding onto whatever he could while directing Matthew where to go. The spaceship was still dangerously close, not letting up at all and grazing the truck itself.

 

“FUCK YOU!” Matthew slammed on his breaks suddenly, and it was Dib who screamed, feeling the ship collide with the truck bed. Dakota let out a series of whimpers, shielding her eyes from what was happening.

 

Dib watched the voot lurch forward but turn around, Jinx’s scowl clear on his face as he activated his weapons, training guns on him. Cars around them swerved and hit each other, causing a pile-up that kept them in place. Matthew cursed, trying to start up the truck, the engine stalling. “Shit, shit, shit!”

 

“Why did you stop?” Dib cried out.

 

“I saw it in a fucking movie!” Matthew panicked.

 

“This is not a fucking movie!” Dib shrieked.

 

Something loud hit their ears, the speakers tuning themselves, Dib clasped his hands over his ears while Matthew reached to turn the radio off.

 

He stopped before he could, hearing a voice. Instead of turning the radio off he turned it up.

 

“—surrender right now and I might not kill you both.” Jinx’s voice demanded from the radio frequency. “I think it’s a good deal considering the shit you humans just pulled, but hey, feel free to keep running.”

 

Dakota stared at the spaceship in front of them, seeing the Irken on the inside give her a playful smirk.

 

“Da-ko-ta.” He said her name slowly, “Be a good girl. You don’t really want to see these humans die, do you? All you have to do is come here.”

 

“Don’t listen to him, Dakota.” Matthew said to her, “We can get out of this.”

 

“Matthew, look around us.” Dib motioned outside, “We’re trapped, he has the upper hand.”

 

“I’m not letting her go, Dib!” The man shouted, “We just got her back—“

 

“If we can do it once we can do it again! If we don’t do this, he’s just going to kill us and take her anyway.” Dib hissed out, “What will that give her?” He quickly opened the door and got out.

 

Dakota moved towards the door but Matthew caught her arm. “Wait!” He tried. She looked back at him, her eyes prickling with tears. Matthew breathed out and forced on a smile, “We’re not giving up, okay? We’re getting you back, I don’t care what I have to do.”

 

“Matthew…” She whispered out, her eyes flying wide as he pulled her into a tight embrace. She stilled for a split second before relaxing into it, fully crying now when he finally released her.

 

“Heartbreaking.” Jinx commented dryly, tapping his fingers on the console. He watched as Dakota slipped out of the truck and passed Dib, slowly stepping towards the spaceship. Jinx gave her a sly smile, popping open the glass and stepping up, extending his arm towards her and pulling her in when she took his hand. She was forced to sit on his lap in the cramped ship, but he didn’t mind, purring in appreciation and kissing the corner of her mouth. “Good girl.” He praised.

 

The spaceship took off then, quickly, and Matthew slammed his fists onto the steering wheel in anguish.

Chapter Text

It took hours for the pile-up to be taken care of, and after that they had to sit and be questioned by the local police. Despite the eyewitness testimony, no one believed that an alien was involved.

 

Dib felt like he was back in grade school, pointing out the obvious while everyone else turned a blind eye.

 

They returned to the motel late the next day, Matthew looking tired and dejected at this point. Dib couldn’t blame him, since they finally got her just to give her back to the alien. There was nothing to say to brighten the man’s mood, and the way he stopped at a liquor store so casually to pick up a bottle concerned Dib. Now Matthew was sitting on the bed, having a drink of whiskey right from the bottle while Dib sorted through his papers.

 

“Something’s been bugging me.” He finally broke the silence, hesitant, but he had to say something.

 

Matthew didn’t answer him, continuing to stare at the bottle.

 

Dib let out a sigh, “Something happened in the truck, Matthew.”

 

“Before or after Dakota was abducted again?” He asked brokenly, eyeing Dib wearily.

 

Dib set down a stack of papers. “The rear window of the truck, Matthew. When Dakota touched it, the glass broke. She reacted like it had happened before.”

 

Matthew quirked a brow in his direction. “What do you mean?”

 

“Before I became a comic book artist, I was a paranormal investigator.” Dib began, adjusting his glasses, “Now, just hear me out. What if, that alien was after her for a reason?”

 

“What’s this bullshit?” Matthew slurred, “I’ve known Dakota for ten fucking years, she’s a normal human being!”

 

“In my experience, no one is normal.” He went for his laptop, thinking before something came to him. He quickly worked on the thought, “You told me about that accident, the one that killed her parents, it was a test site?”

 

Matthew groaned, “What about it?”

 

“Just outside of New Haven?” He asked again.

 

The man looked irritated, “Where are you going with this?”

 

“My dad is a top name scientist, Matthew. You probably know him, Professor Membrane? My dad has laboratories scattered all over the country, one of them was in New Haven, where you and Dakota live.”

 

The older man set down his bottle, finally, his lips pursing into a thin line as he listened. The name hit something familiar in his brain but he said nothing about it, not now.

 

“The realm of science is a pretty close-knit group of people. You said Dakota’s parents were scientists, so there’s a chance they corresponded with my dad.”

 

Matthew was thinking now, a memory digging into him that made him worry.

 

Dib looked back at him, taking in his facial features. “Matthew?”

 

“She wanted to be a scientist.” Matthew began, “She was passionate about the subject, I remember that it was something she loved more than anything.” He motioned with his hands, “After the accident, there was something about science labs that made her have a panic attack. She couldn’t go near them. She ended up skipping science class altogether. I just thought it was out of grief of her parents, yanno?”

 

“You said she was an intern at the lab, right?” Dib questioned.

 

“That’s what she told me.”

 

Dib nodded slowly, biting the inside of his cheek in thought while he looked over a few files he was able to hack into. “He’s kept the records of the test site in New Haven, but there’s only five scientists listed here.”

 

That caught Matthew’s attention, the man moving suddenly to stand over him. “What are you looking at?”

 

“Dad’s old records. That’s the perks of being related to Professor Membrane, I know how to get full access to everything he thinks are password protected and behind a secure firewall.”

 

“You…hacked into his server?” The man looked amused.

 

“Not exactly…” Dib grinned, “When I was fifteen I hidden a virus into his mainframe, it’s undetectable but leaves me a backdoor for whenever I want to look at anything he has. It’s never let me down so far.”

 

Matthew managed a laugh, easing himself into a sitting position next to him. “Christ, and here I thought Dakota was smart.”

 

“What’s her last name again?” Dib asked.

 

“Paige.”

 

Dib nodded, “I see a Daniel Paige and Deirdre Paige and…” Dib breathed, “Simmons!” His eyes widened in shock, “Simmons was in the explosion.”

 

Matthew tilted his head, “Who?”

 

“Edward Simmons, he was my father’s right-hand man.” Dib explained, taking out a notepad to write something down, “I gotten wind that he died, but I never knew why. It’s around the time when my dad took my sister in to be his apprentice. This is important, if Simmons was related to this than it means my father was involved.”

 

Matthew was watching the screen curiously, seeing the slight flickers that weren’t there a while ago. He rubbed his eyes to double check, frowning as it continued. “Uh, Dib?”

 

“Hold on, I need to write this—“

 

The words on the screen were becoming out of focus, and Matthew slammed his hand to the laptop only to curse out. Was it supposed to get so hot?

 

The laptop’s fan kicked in, alarmingly fast and Dib finally checked in, he touched it only to withdraw his hand quickly, “Shit!”

 

They both jumped when the laptop caught fire, both of them crying out while Matthew scrambled for one of his super-soakers to douse the flames. “What the hell was that?” He cried brokenly.

 

“I don’t fucking know!” Dib shouted, suddenly hearing his phone go off and scrambling over to pick it up. He looked at the number, how it was unlisted. He bit his lip, putting the phone to his ear.

 

“Stop poking your giant head where it doesn’t belong, Dib.” It was his sister’s voice.

 

“G-Gaz?” He breathed, “Did you—“

 

“You really thought I wouldn’t find that backdoor virus you made? It’s bothersome enough that I had to wait for you to trigger the one I designed. I hope you backed up your precious files.” She sounded mocking.

 

“Gaz, what the fuck’s going on? What are you hiding!” He shouted.

 

“I’m only going to warn you one time, Dib. Stop searching.”

 

The call cut off then, and Dib looked pale from the conversation.

 

Matthew stared at him, “W-what was that?”

 

Dib got up slowly, “We’re going back to New Haven.” He decided.

 


 

 

The hard part was sedating her, as the female had a violent reaction at the sight of the syringe. She managed to fight him off frighteningly well, and thankfully the computer was online. The sudden show of power was off-putting to the Irken, who had seen only meekness from the human ever since they crossed paths. Only a certain species showed this type of power and it put his thoughts into overdrive as he had her transported deeper into the laboratory.

 

The shattered glass greeted him as he carried her inside, stepping over the shards to deposit her body into one of the untouched tubes. “Computer, run some diagnostics on the female.” He commanded after hooking her up manually, shutting the tube and watching it fill up with green goo. He went about cleaning the broken glass, sifting the bloodied shards out from the rest and putting them aside.

 

When the laboratory was clean he went to work on the blood samples, analyzing what he had until he needed to take a fresh sample from her. The computer continued to run its diagnostics as he studied the sample.

 

A curious thought formed in his head, and he considered it carefully, “Computer, take the sample and run it through the directory, look for similarities. Also, cross reference these unknown chemicals in the blood, I want to know what exactly they are.”

 

“Affirmative.” The computer answered quickly.

 

He looked back towards the tube, taking in Dakota’s form. “There’s something special about you…” He said in a whisper.

 

“I’ve cross-referenced the unknown chemicals, they’re two different forms of suppressants used to restrain neuron functions to the brain.”

 

He quickly brought up the female’s brain scan on the monitor, looking deeper into the chemical imbalances. “I’m reading that the suppressants have been long-term, something tells me these humans have been trying to control her.” He thought loudly.

 

“Sir, if you require to reverse the damage brought on by the suppressants I suggest using the chemicals that I have provided.” The computer suggested, an interface popping up on the screen with the information provided. “I have also ran the subject’s DNA through the directory of known species and the female matches exactly two.”

 

Jinx stepped back towards the tube, pressing his hand against the glass. “What species is she?”

 

“A hybrid between humans and the long-extinct Meekrob, sir.”

 

The Irken scratched the glass just then, caught off-guard. “Then…those suppressants…it was to restrain her mental capacity.” He growled out. “That means something knew what she really was and used that knowledge to control her.” He growled at that, making a fist. “I want her put into stasis until those abnormal chemicals are flushed out of her, I’m going to make a stabilizer to help her adjust to her abilities. Resume lockdown, nothing comes in or out of the base, not even an insect.”

 

“Affirmative, sir.”


 

 

Dib drove the way out to the New Haven Test Site, given that his partner wasn’t apt to drive under his given state. Matthew spaced out for most of the drive, staring out at the dark sky intently. The half empty bottle of whiskey was settled in the back seat, hidden away from wandering eyes. It was the longest hour and a half drive in the dead of silence, not even the radio could make it any better for either of them, Dib had given up on the music after ten minutes.

 

The test site was fenced in, the building still standing but long ago abandoned. Rumor had it that it was inhabited years ago by the military, which Dib guessed was to study the ruins for evidence of foul play. However, it rouse suspicion in the paranormal investigator, as the only reason the government would get involved would be to cover up signs of alien activity.

 

Matthew was the first over the fence, climbing over it easily and ignoring the warning signs of no trespassing. Dib followed a while later both of them splitting up before taking on separate sides of the ruins.

 

It was a macabre atmosphere, wandering dead hallways and climbing over rubble to venture further into the decapitated building. Matthew had to stop every now and then to re-gain his bearings. He lightly shoved a computer monitor with his foot before stepping over it and looking for the matching tower. Would a computer left in the wild still be able to be used? He didn’t really know. He followed the cables connecting to the monitor but ended up finding the ends of them, as if the computer terminal was ripped away in haste. When he found old file cabinets he jimmied them open, but only ashes lie on the inside, all the papers burned away. He had a weird nagging vibe in his gut similar to old film noir movies.

 

“There’s nothing.” He said into his wrist, kicking the file cabinet in agitation. “Everything informational was removed.”

 

“Same on my end.” Dib’s voice came through the communicator, “I think I’m in the blast site.”

 

Matthew hesitated, turning away from the room he was in now and locating Dib towards a large spacious room with no ceiling and broken glass everywhere. The mood was grim, and Matthew swallowed thickly. This was where the accident took place, he thought dreadfully. 

 

“I don’t like it here.” He finally said, looking over the destruction. “We’re not going to find a thing, we should just go.”

 

Dib silently agreed, following Matthew back out towards the headlights of the truck. He shut the flashlight off and climbed the fence after Matthew. “Well, on the bright side.” He said aloud, “I don’t think it’s haunted.”

 

Matthew snorted in amusement, jumping back into his seat and turning on the radio after Dib finally struggled into the cab. “My house isn’t far.” He explained, going about directing him once they drove towards the town, pointing him down five roads until they came upon the modest-looking two-story house.

 

Everett nearly dropped the glass in her hand when Matthew opened the door, whipping around with her eyes wide. “You’re back! Where’s Dakota—“ She fell quiet when she stepped towards the door, spotting Dib lingering at the doorway. “Matthew?”

 

The man nervously waved at her, “You must be Matthew’s wife…” He tried a smile, “My name’s Dib.”

 

Matthew ran a hand through his hair, “He’s helping me with Dakota.” He explained, looking around the room. “Where’s Abby and Tabby?”

 

“Sleepover…” Everett mouthed, still staring at Dib, “Honey, where’s Dakota?”

 

Matthew looked uneasy, “We almost had her, the alien had a vehicle and decided to chase us.”

 

“A standard issue Voot Cruiser, left over from Zim’s base.” Dib added on.

 

Everett looked upset, “So now you’re here—“

 

“It’s a long story, honey.” Matthew cut in, looking exhausted and leaning in for a kiss, which Everett recoiled from. She pinched her nose at the smell of liquor on his breath and nudged him away.

 

“How much did he have to drink?” She questioned Dib.

 

The man blinked, biting his lip hesitantly and pinching his fingers, “About half-ish?” He guessed. “Um, we…we had a tough night.” He looked at Matthew then, “So Dakota’s room…?”

 

Matthew sighed, “Upstairs, last door on the left.” He instructed, noting Everett’s sudden glare in Matthew’s direction.

 

“Who is this and why are you letting him snoop into our house?” She almost shouted.

 

“That’s the creator of Dakota’s cartoon, the one who’s helping me break into an alien base and rescue Dakota.” He explained tiredly, leaning against the wall. “After last night we’re starting to come across something big, something weird.”

 

Everett suddenly realized she left a pan on boil and rushed off to the kitchen, “What do you mean?” She called out from the room.

 

Matthew followed her, “It’s about the accident.” He winced when she accidentally burned her fingers, rushing over to take her hand and run them under water. “Are you alright?”

 

Everett looked nervous, “Do-don’t worry about me. What about the accident?” She asked softly.

 

“Well—“

 

“Just what in the hell are these?” Dib cried out as he came back down the stairs, holding the pill bottles in his hands.

 

Everett quickly pulled her hand away, zeroing in on the bottles, “Th-those are her medications.” She explained.

 

“These are not normal prescription drugs.” He said then, looking at Matthew accusingly, “You told me you helped Dakota get therapy and medications for her anxiety and depression, are you hiding something?”

 

Matthew looked confused, “W-what are you talking about?” He looked at his wife, then at Dib. “Everett handled her medical needs.”

 

Dib turned his glare at the woman, “What is my father paying you?” He questioned.

 

Everett’s eyebrows raised, “Excuse me?”

 

Matthew instantly became defensive, stepping in front of his wife, “Don’t make me throw you out of my house, Dib. Harassing my wife is a good way to get on my bad side.”

 

“I wouldn’t do that Matthew.” Dib held up one of the bottles, “Before throwing me out, I’d like to know just why all of Dakota’s meds are coming from Membrane Inc.? My father doesn’t deal in pharmaceuticals, and these pills are coming straight from the main lab!” He moved it to show him the logo on the lid. “This logo right here is the brand symbol for his laboratory, everything that comes out of Membrane Inc. is emblazoned with that brand.”

 

Everett stepped back, putting two and two together quickly, “Yo—you’re father is Professor Membrane?” She cried out.

 

Matthew turned back to his wife, “Everett?” He looked confused, looking back at Dib. “Explain yourself quickly.” He ordered.

 

Dib looked tense, “The test site where Dakota and her parents were working exploded under mysterious circumstances. It was a branch of Membrane Inc. I was able to get the records before Gaz fried my laptop and the laboratory was not just a test site, but a place for experimental testing.” He looked from Matthew to Everett, “My father is well known for doing great things, but it doesn’t mean he never tested on innocent people to do those great things. These drugs, I never heard of them. You won’t be able to find them at any pharmacy.” He rested his sights on Everett. “Where did you get these meds?”

 

The woman looked stricken, “They’re prescription from an actual psychiatrist!” She said defensively.

 

Dib quirked a brow, “Who’s her psychiatrist?”

 

Everett pursed her lips, “He’s a very kind man, Dr. Percher. He works in the city at Reliant Healing Center in Midland, just forty miles from here.”

 

Something about that answer didn’t sit right with Dib, and he pulled out his phone to check with his suspicions.

 

Everett looked uneasy still, watching him work on his phone and glancing at Matthew every now and then. “Her therapist works there as well, and they’re so kind to her!”

 

“How many times do you go see them?” Dib asked, his eyes never leaving the phone.

 

“Don’t they come over here?” Matthew asked her, quirking a brow. “Never really heard it before, home visits.”

 

Dib looked thoughtfully at Matthew, “Home visits?”

 

“Not really sure, I had to work most of the time.” Matthew said, “Everett explained it all to me.”

 

Dib frowned, “That explains a lot, actually.” He turned his phone over towards Everett. “Because Reliance Healing Center doesn’t exist.”

 

“What?” Matthew cried out.

 

“In this age, if it exists, there’s some sort of proof. A yelp page, a listing, a website, any sort of information. There’s no such thing as Reliance Healing Center in Midland.”

 

Everett paled, looking away quickly, but Matthew had noticed her reaction. “Honey?” He asked.

 

Dib stepped over to her, “If you’re going to try to explain your way out of this, it’s—“

 

“DIB!” Matthew hissed out.

 

“No—“ Everett cut Matthew off quickly, “I…I never thought it would come to this.” She breathed out, “They told me it was important to keep her under those meds, and paid me to keep quiet about it.”

 

Matthew went quiet, watching her, “What?”

 

“I never wanted to take her in.” Everett said then, “I talked to the couple that had her last, they told me stories. Glass breaking, floating water, she was unstable and warned me that she was a harm to everyone! I didn’t want her around my children, and you were—Christ, Matthew, you were, are, so obsessed with her!”

 

“I cared about her well being! I still do!” He barked out, “You never wanted her? Then why did you agree to it?”

 

“Because they came to me.” She said evenly, “The scientists, they told me they were watching us, all of us, they wanted her in a normal family dynamic. I was so against it, until they struck up a deal.” She looked grim as she spoke, “They told me that there wasn’t anything to worry about, as long as I kept her under the medications they provided. To make up for the inconvenience, they offered me a large sum of money.”

 

Dib looked at Matthew, seeing how quiet he was getting. It was a certain kind of quiet that was fueled by anger. He stepped away, looking disgusted and returning back up the stairs.

 

“You took a bribe to drug Dakota?” Matthew asked lowly, unable to pinpoint what he was feeling.

 

“Not anymore!” Everett looked pained, “After two years I told them no, she became a part of the family then!”

 

“It still doesn’t make up for the fact that for two years you accepted a bribe from whoever knows what kind of people! And the drugs, Everett! The drugs! She had been on them for eight years and you never even decided to be honest about it? What are the drugs, what do they even do?” He shouted. “Did you ask them about it? Did you even once tried to google their side-affects? What if she overdosed, Everett? The doctors wouldn’t know what the fuck she was on!”

 

“All I knew was that those medications helped her, Matthew. They kept her calm and they kept her happy.” Everett tried.

 

Matthew scoffed, “Bull-fucking-shit, Dakota wasn’t ever happy, Everett! She was a shell of her former self. The Dakota I knew was bright and creative, smarter than anyone else. The Dakota we know now is easily influenced and has a lot of problems!”

 

“You’ve always been biased, Matthew!” She shouted out, “Sometimes I feel like you love her more than me. I’m your wife, for heaven’s sake!”

 

Matthew shook his head, “No, no, NO, this is NOT about me. This is about how you agreed to let scientists experiment on someone I thought we both cared about! You KNOW how I feel about that sort of thing, Everett. You knew my opinion about that!”

 

“I know—“ She breathed.

 

“Then why did you allow it to happen?” He asked calmly.

 

“They warned me about what would happen if I didn’t, that’s why.” She said softly.

 

Matthew stepped closer when she stepped back. “How much did they tell you?”

 

Everett continued to step back, seemingly on edge. He couldn’t understand why she wanted to distance herself from him. She looked desperate, “I don’t know anything else, Matthew. They were vague about everything! I don’t know what she is, or why they want her on the medications. All I know is that bad things happen if she’s not on them!” She paused suddenly, covering her mouth with her hands. “Is that why she was abducted?”

 

Matthew went still for a moment and stepped back, finally, turning towards the stairs. “DIB.” He called, heading down the hallway.

 

“Matthew?” Everett followed him, but he didn’t answer her, “Matthew don’t, please. Maybe this is a sign!” She said then, effectively stopping him from reaching the door. He turned around to look at her.

 

“What?”

 

Everett tried a worried smile, “A sign, maybe that alien taking her means we don’t have to worry anymore. We can move on.”

 

Matthew stared at her incredulously, opening his mouth before shutting it and turning away again, “Dib, back to the truck!” He shouted, leaving the house.

 

Everett almost jumped as Dib stumbled back down the stairs, Dakota’s bag hanging from his shoulders, full, and her laptop in one arm. He passed her without a thought and left the house. Everett looked dreadful, staring out the door as the truck peeled out of the driveway and left. She stood there for a moment before shutting the door and pulling out her phone.

 

She tapped on a private number, taking a shaky breath as it rang.

 

“Hello? It’s me, Everett Drake. … No, I don’t need a refill. It’s about Dakota. … No, she’s not here. Actually…she’s been kidnapped by an alien.” She said the last part hesitantly, shaking just slightly. “Yes, I’ll hold.”

Chapter Text

It was a lengthy process, expelling those foreign chemicals from her body. He kept her unconscious while it happened. It was easier for both of them, until he hooked her up to the stabilizer. He had his thoughts while creating that stabilizer, how the female could end up overpowering him upon waking, or how he couldn’t have the upper hand in controlling her like he used to. Controlling the female was fun, yes, but it lacked a challenge. He was used to overcoming great challenges and coming out on top, and the female was a broken shell of something great that he was achingly curious to discover. Without those chemical inhibitors in her brain, the female could be anything. Was she bred to be a warrior or was she supposed to be a queen? A human that bred with a Meekrob had the ability to unlock great mental potential as well as possess a rapid healing ability, faster than an Irken’s. Before the former Tallests decided to thin out their numbers and wipe out the race, they were a great threat to the Empire’s rule. His formers did not trust their strict pacifistic nature and only thought about their ability to wreak havoc without exerting any energy.

 

He was actually excited. Jinx had a hard time believing his own anticipation as the process neared its completion. A whole new experience was floating in the tube in front of him, waiting to open her eyes and take on the world. He wondered if this was a sign, because if he played his cards right, she could be his key to claiming the planet or perhaps overthrowing the Empire.

 

As soon as he finished the stabilizer he had the tube drained, moving the human over to lie on a table as he connected the small piece of technology on her arm. It was no smaller than a nicotine patch, with small sensors on the inside and a tiny mechanism that injected her with the chemicals needed to withstand the normal withdrawal symptoms of chemical dependency. He hummed when he worked on unhooking the regular censors from her body and proceeded to busy himself somewhere else. It would only be a fair amount of time until the female began to come back out of her induced coma but he didn’t have time to wait and watch.

 

About an hour into what he was doing, the monitor began to show signs of consciousness. Dakota let out a tired groan, her fingers twitching while her eyelids fluttered, only to shut forcefully when she was assaulted by the lights overhead. She groaned again, raising her arm up to shield her eyes from the light, opening them up slowly this time to register where she was.

 

The first thing on her mind was that she was still nude. Her thoughts assaulted her quickly with questions following her realization and mentally filtering out the obtuse and wacky assumptions with more logical and reasonable explanations. The second thing on her mind was how long has it been? Her brain kicked in quickly, analyzing the stability of her body and questioning if she was dehydrated and hungry. Her thinking and rational analyzations were so on point that it was the third thing on her mind, the biggest question she had and the one thing that stilled her. She was thinking clearly. She was thinking clearly and better than she ever had in years. Her mind wasn’t muddled with anxious thoughts and panic-inducing questions. Her mind was running quick and fluidly, filtering out useless knowledge with pure information. She hadn’t felt like this in ages. She hadn’t been so self-aware in so long. It was a startling experience, to actually be able to think analytically after not being able to think about the smallest things. The feeling of joy spread through her body, pure and absolute joy that had a giggle bubbling up out of her throat. A smile formed from her lips, and she turned to register the room she was laying inside.

 

The joy that she was feeling had thundered into complete and utter horror, looking at the laboratory in front of her while the flashbacks of what had happened in the room before now hammered into her memory. She screamed out when a glass pane she was staring at cracked suddenly, her body curling up and quaking in fear when she realized just what came with the freedom to think so clearly. She quivered, the memories of the accident flooding her vision before something touched her shoulder. She let out another cry, flinching away from the touch and slipping over the edge of the table, crying out again as she collapsed to the floor and took cover underneath it, her eyes widening as bits and pieces of glass fell in her line of vision as the pane shattered into pieces.

 

Jinx let out a series of curses. She looked so happy a moment ago! He couldn’t think of why she had such a horrible reaction, thinking quickly. He took a calming breath and ducked under the table, pulling open the sheet.

 

“What did you do?” She hissed out immediately, “You did something to me, I’m not well!” She breathed.

 

“I rid your body of those inhibitors that were possessing you.” He said, almost defensively. The reaction had her quiet as she thought about it.

 

“I needed those.” She said shakily, “Those…those are my medications. They keep me safe!” She said desperately. “You don’t know what will happen if I’m off of them!”

 

Jinx didn’t look confused by her reaction, actually, his antennae quirked curiously like something had clicked. “You knew?”

 

“Bad things happen when I’m like this! I can’t—“ She squeaked out, moving, as the taller Irken crawled under the table just far enough to grab her, but she fought to stay where she was.

 

“Care to explain to me why you rather keep yourself weak?” He gave up on dragging her out, deciding to hunch over and join her under the table. “Explain your fear, and I will tell you why I’m right.”

 

She looked offended at first, nervously looking down at her lap and biting her lip in frustration. “When I was a teenager I got something a human female usually gets when they’re young. A period. It’s a short amount of time every month where our ovaries release eggs and we bleed for a week when they go without fertilization. It’s a process we go through that tells us when we’re…ready to breed.” She explained quickly, not meeting his eyes. “Although, with my own period, I also began to experience…strange things.” She hesitated, “I could move things by looking at them, if I thought about something, then that something moved. If I got very angry, and during my period I experienced PMS, a mood-altering event, every time I lashed out glass would crack. I was suddenly doing things with my mind that I didn’t want to do, and it scared me.”

 

He nodded when she fell silent, “Go on.”

 

“My parents were scientists, so they figured there must have been a logical explanation for my sudden condition. They…asked other scientists, and suddenly I’m being introduced to the lead human scientist, Professor Membrane. He monitored me for a month and came to my parents to offer his help. I was experimented on for years, but I was willing. He wanted to homeschool me during everything, but me and my parents refused. You didn’t know if anything was helping if you didn’t try it out in the world. I was doing okay, well, I thought I was…”

 

Jinx watched her as she trailed off, staring at a wayward piece of glass on the floor. She reached over to point at it, and it quivered. She stopped quickly, hiding her fingers. “Nothing was working, and…suddenly Simmons, the Professor’s assistant, he wanted to do crazy things. They never helped, everything was getting worse. He finally told …he told my mom to terminate the experiment.” Her voice got smaller and she started to shake. “I…I don’t know…I started to panic…then my parents were panicking, he grabbed this large syringe and ran at me and suddenly I freaked out and—“ She choked out a sob, “I…my mind pushed him, he collided with some chemicals and something happened, the…they were volatile…they exploded…” She broke into sobs and suddenly she felt herself being dragged into the Irken’s lap.

 

Jinx waited until the sobs died down, losing track of time the longer she cried. He clicked his tongue and brushed her hair away from her eyes. “Humans are so fragile…” He murmured. “I’ve listened to you, now you listen to me.” He said then, “You’re not entirely human, female. Your genetics are mixed with another alien race, which where your abilities come from.” He felt her freeze in his lap and looked mildly amused. “Confining your mental capabilities instead of learning them isn’t something you needed to do.”

 

She reeled back, her eyes wide. “I’m not entirely human?” She cried out. Dakota didn’t know how to react to that. What was the right response to this sort of thing? Her brain sorted through this revelation and suddenly everything about those psychic abilities sounded so…logical. She didn’t want them to be logical, she didn’t want them to be natural. For years she was in fear of herself, for being herself.

 

Jinx knew she was thinking again, looking bothered by it. “I don’t want to put up with the human female I once knew, a weakling that couldn’t do anything useful. I knew you were something intelligent, something special.” He moved to leave the confines of the table, reaching his hand out. “Come with me, I will teach you how to control yourself instead of fear yourself.”

 

Dakota made a small whine, looking at the hand. She…he wasn’t going to give her time to think?

 

He peeked down at her, frustrated. “Do you trust me?” He questioned, flexing his fingers.

 

That was another question that made her think, and those words had so much weight behind it. Did she really trust him? She didn’t even know him! Well, she did know him, he was a murderer who threatened to kill to make her obey so many times, but he also promised to keep her safe. He was the good and the bad in every situation she had been in, and—

 

She gasped out quickly when he was suddenly at her side, eyeing her steadily. She breathed in deeply when he slowly laced his fingers with hers. “Didn’t I tell you once, thinking only causes problems?” He asked her while his lips quirked up.

 

“You’re not allowing me time to process this.” Dakota said honestly. “I need to think.”

 

He considered her answer for a moment, “When Irkens are hatched, they’re immediately sent to receive data. We are given everything at that point, our history, our language, every single bit of information that the Empire bestows on us is dumped in our packs to prepare us for Irken training. We aren’t given time to process everything we’ve learned, we are expected to accept the knowledge and learn with it. Thinking too much about everything, every single detail, every single fact, it’s dangerous. It leads to pain and suffering that you can’t afford to have. We Irkens have to stay strong and not let weaknesses like that consume us, as if you allow it to happen, you become a defective and you’re abolished from your home. To be an Irken is to be strong, to learn and improve.”

 

Dakota frowned, “I’m not an Irken. I’m human. Or…apparently, I’m not a human. I’m some kind of crazy alien hybrid. At least let me learn about my species! I thrive on knowledge, I need to know what I am!”

 

Jinx let out a sigh, “Very well. I just hope you realize I’m doing you a favor, female. The way you were before was pathetic.” He said then, his antennae falling flat. “You were weak.”

 

Dakota glared at him slightly, “My anxiety and depression was brought on by the accident.”

 

Jinx poked the patch on her arm, “Those chemical imbalances you speak of, I’ve researched them. While your body was being flushed by my machines I took it upon myself to make a stabilizer that eases those lingering effects from your ‘medication’. You will no longer tremble and shake, and anything else that used to weaken you.”

 

Dakota touched her arm softly, staring at Jinx in a new way now. She mouthed some words and fell silent, her expression unreadable at the realization that he was just giving her a miraculous cure for something she thought she would be plagued with forever.

 

He resumed his position outside the table, waiting for her. Dakota bit her lip and eased herself out to join him, gently grabbing his arm.

 

“Let me learn about my species, and I’ll let you teach me how to control myself.” She said softly, smiling.

 


 

The drive was filled with a familiar tension. The uncomfortable silence that Dib had been accustomed to during his childhood when he and his sister would be at odds with each other. Although, this quiet tension wasn’t like what he would feel with Gaz, because that kind of tension involved a sliver of fear as he waited for her to exact revenge. The only thing he could feel from Matthew was a boiling temper that he was attempting to reign in for the sake of this odd new kinship they’ve formed. Matthew was driving the truck, surprisingly well for having drank away his worries only three hours ago, and he was more than sober at the moment. Dib was afraid to talk, after what had happened between Matthew and his wife, but part of him wanted to make sure that the man was okay and not about to snap and rage hell.

 

Bite the bullet, Dib. The younger man swallowed thickly, thinking about his choice of words.

 

“Do…you want to talk about it?” He asked gradually, looking at the man that kept his eyes pinned on the road. He waited for a response, hoping he could at least do something. Matthew was gripping the steering wheel a little too tight in Dib’s opinion, his shoulders stiff in his own simmering anger. He was getting worried, mostly because Matthew turned off the highway five minutes ago and was going up a winding road towards an inconspicuous looking shack in the middle of nowhere. That sliver of fear tugged at Dib’s subconscious, because he was stuck in a truck with a pissed off Marine veteran that had a shotgun within reach. “Matthew?” The voice came out broken.

 

Matthew paid Dib no mind as he drove along the rocky edges, coming to a stop at the aged and hallow shack and keeping the headlights on as he stepped out the truck. Dib watched Matthew walk far enough away before he began screaming at the sky, screaming at the top of his lungs and throwing punches at some invisible force in front of him. Dib didn’t get out of his seat while Matthew kept screaming, his anger laden with every curse-word imaginable while kicking the ground underneath him. A sudden thought struck the man and Dib instantly began searching the backseat of the truck, pulling out the bottle of Jack and finding a few more empties that varied in brand and type. He put the empties back and sighed, finally climbing down from the truck after Matthew’s screams had long since ceased. Dib trudged out into the field the man was now sitting in, with the bottle in his hands. He dropped down beside the older man and handed him the bottle.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” He asked again.

 

Matthew glared at the bottle, mulling over the question in his head and letting out a tired sigh, turning his eyes on the starry sky above him. “There’s too much to talk about and not enough whiskey in the world to help me through it.”

 

Dib took the moment to lie back on the ground to focus on the sky. “Humor me.” He challenged.

 

Matthew breathed out a sigh, “Well, let’s start with your father, how apparently he’s been fucking up lives for longer than you think.” He began.

 

Dib’s brow furrowed, “Wait, what?”

 

“Here’s some background.” He began, “Back when I was graduating high school I went straight into basic training. I was about nineteen when I became a Marine, and back at the time, they wanted to do some kind of top secret shit and they were looking for some takers. I was young, I was stupid, thought ‘why the hell not’ and signed up for the project. Six men were chosen for the project, and we were all taken somewhere we’ve never been before.” Matthew took a swig out of the bottle then, needing the fuel. “That’s where I met your father. He was about, twenty years older than me, big and well known everywhere. He wanted us to be his first subjects for this experiment. He said it would improve our health in battle, maybe keep us alive more. I didn’t really think anything of it, again - young and stupid.

 

“It was a full blood transfusion, Dib.” Matthew looked down at Dib, “Our blood was switched with something else, I don’t really know what. He wouldn’t tell us. The affects were immediate. We felt better, we even healed faster. It was crazy, at the time. We felt ready to take on everything. Then he sent us into battle and it all turned… more crazy. I don’t know, they told us the people we were fighting were the enemy, but in hindsight I believe it was a lie. I have a feeling they were our own boys. We had this crazy bloodlust, we were like a pack of wolves and we just—“ He took another swig, gasping for breath. “It was…just… you paint the picture.” He said grimly.

 

Dib sat back up, staring at Matthew incredulously. “My dad did that?”

 

Matthew nodded, “It didn’t stop there. As you can tell, I’m very aggressive. It’s a lingering side-affect, and honestly, Dib, if I went toe to toe with that Irken, I could probably rip his head off.” He didn’t look happy about that. “I can take a beating, though.” He said then, “I’ve been in my fair share of brawls and I’ve always come out spanking new like I never broke my fist against the guy’s face.”

 

Dib paled just slightly, “Jesus Christ.” He breathed.

 

“I really feel like I need to meet up with Membrane again,” Matthew said with a smile, “Now that I know he was involved with Dakota. I feel like he is just aching to have his ass kicked.” The thought was fun, and he enjoyed thinking about it, before scowling. “I told her what I went through and she still had the balls to do what she did.” He muttered.

 

Dib hesitantly put a calming hand on the man’s shoulder, even if he had nothing helpful to say. He didn’t know Everett well enough to defend or attack her.

 

“Hey…” He shook the shoulder slightly, “How many shotgun shells do you have?” He asked then.

 

Matthew slowly looked over at Dib curiously.

 

“I…I’m not a gun nut, I don’t really think I can handle anything other than a laser gun, but you have a few bottles in that truck and a weapon. Um, target practice?” He suggested oddly, trying to smile.

 

Matthew thought about it for a moment, finally letting out a laugh and shoving Dib so far that he fell over.

 

The next hour was spent with a needed distraction.

 


 

Jinx had collected everything he could find on the Meekrob species, which was more than enough for a few hours of learning. He made sure to translate it all for the female, taking no longer than an hour to translate up to three hours of reading material. When he handed it over to Dakota, it was all on the tablet he brought with him. He knew she would need some time, making himself busy while Dakota isolated herself somewhere inside the house.

 

He set his internal clock for three hours, and when it summoned his attention he began to search for her. After everything, he allowed the base to transfer her anywhere. He wasn’t going to tell her about the tracking device he implanted into her Irken brand, as some things needed to be kept a secret for assurances sake.

 

It took Jinx a half-hour to find the female, finally realizing that she was above ground and taking the elevator back up to the top. He ascended a flight of stairs to the second floor, coming to a stop on a large spacious room with a single bed. Dakota was sitting at the foot of the bed, on the floor with her eyes on the night sky outside the window. The tablet’s display was black, sitting next to her as she stared up out the window. He didn’t dare make a sound, watching her for quite some time.

 

His shadow from the door was obvious from where she sat, but she didn’t register that it was actually there until she broke herself free from her own thoughts, flinching just slightly but not asking him how long he had been there. “I suppose I owe you.” She spoke up eventually, finally turning her eyes to his form. They looked bloodshot and tired, as if she cried for hours. “It finally makes sense. All of it. Everything that has happened…everything that…I can do.” Her voice became smaller as she recalled her own thoughts. Dakota almost didn’t notice him get closer, the Irken suddenly at her side. “You know, you didn’t have to do this.” She pointed out, “You didn’t have to do any of this!”

 

“But I did.” He hummed.

 

“You did.” She leaned against him when he settled down next to her. “You did a lot of things you could have just ignored.” She felt the patch on her arm in example.

 

The Irken huffed his chest indignantly. “I would like to think that I’m better than what you perceive of me entirely, female. Despite everything, I have a mere concept of ‘caring’.”

 

Dakota giggled, “You’ve proven to be something else than the petty asshole I’ve come to know for a while, which is why I want to propose an agreement between you and me.”

 

Jinx quirked his antennae, “What sort of agreement?” He eyed her suspiciously, watching her fully turn to him and climb into his lap. Her long hair was pulled back and tied off, something that made the brand on the back of her neck fully visible. He tickled the exposed skin there curiously, smirking when she shoved his fingers away.

 

“Everything you’ve done to me before now isn’t something I’m going to kindly forget.” She said then, fully serious. “You’ve used my weakness to your advantage and taken me on multiple occasions. I’m doing this now because I want you to have an understanding of us. While you’ve done what you can to use me…” Her face softened, “You’ve also given me something I thought I’d never have, ever. You’ve taken away the biggest barriers in my life and freed me from what was holding me back. Something deep in my gut tells me that we’re not going to separate any time soon, and I…I feel that I want that. At the same time, I want to go back to the people I care about. Before any of that can happen I need us on the same page, Jinx.”

 

He listened quietly, quirking his head to the side curiously. “What do you propose?”

 

“An understanding.” She said firmly, “For one, I’m not your property, despite whatever this tattoo on my neck says. I’m my own person and I can freely go wherever I want, when I want. We will discuss everything as equals, I do not just blindly do as you say and be done with it. I have a voice and a brain and I want to be heard.” She watched him steadily as she talked, taking in his expressions and noting them down. He was having trouble considering that part, but she knew he would. Irkens were stubborn, as she knew, they also didn’t like being bossed around. She gently laid a hand on his arm to catch his attention, “With that, I feel like we can compromise with an exchange, of sorts.” She continued, smiling wryly. “I still have that odd attraction, the thing I said a long time ago, my sick sexual fascination with you.” She shrugged lightly at his stare, “I think that could still work without you having to bend my will to get there.” She suggested, “On Earth, we have rules and etiquette regarding this sort of thing. I don’t really know how Irkens go about sex…mating? Sex? Either way, I’m willing to learn about yours if you’re willing to learn about mine.”

 

He eyed her cautiously, not having expected this at all. Well, not entirely. He expected the female to get some semblance of free will with her reformed mind, but he never expected her to actually make some sort of bartering agreement towards the subject. It was honestly more interesting than fighting for what he wanted, which he was prepared to do. He was groomed to be a leader and a diplomat, but he was born a soldier. He had two alternative ways to get what he wanted, but he never considered actually taking the longer route with compromise and understanding. He thought about it seriously, because she was someone whose alliance he desired. If he actually used his ill-practiced patience then he could win over that allegiance.

 

Dakota waited patiently, smart enough to know the many paths this proposal could take and quickly calculating her routes with every outcome. She was trying to be optimistic, hoping for a good outcome. There was no way in hell she could leave his side, not at this point. He did the impossible for her and she owed him a great deal of thanks for it. A small smile crossed her features at how she would repay him, because the Irken was predictable in only one way that it mattered.

 

“You wish to learn about our practices?” He broke the silence, quirking a grin. “I thought you were the well-informed female that knew everything about Irkens.” He quipped.

 

Dakota snorted in amusement, “The creator of the show never mentioned intimate sexual practices, but there’s people out there with wild imaginations that suggest what they are. I’ve known not to believe in hearsay, however. I only know that your kind practices sterile means of cloning to populate your race, it never mentions your…alien dicks.” She gestured to his lap, in which she was sitting on.

 

Jinx only smirked, “What you see is what you get.” He said then, “Our anatomy is the same throughout the race, especially what you call my ‘alien dick’.” He rocked his hips up just to startle her. “What you call ‘sex’ is only used for taking mates, and however many that may be, it’s never for population.” He wiggled his fingers, “The Control Brains want our species to be clean and free of defects, which what natural birthing does with smeets. We’ve been sterilized to make sure our species doesn’t breed naturally.” He chuckled then, “It’s a good thing too, because Invaders are known to mate with aliens on the planets they are sent to conquer - for research purposes, of course!” He added quickly.

 

Dakota nodded slowly, silently thanking for the infertility. “So, does your species…have genders? Like for humans, we have two primary genders: male and female. Then we have secondary genders and the like. Our primary genders are what we’re born with, as I am female. As we age, we may pick out what we really are, like if you were born a male and feel that you are female, then you are transgender…” She trailed off, laughing nervously. “It gets complicated, especially when you get towards the different sexualities.”

 

His antennae twitched slightly, “Irkens…don’t…have…a set gender? Am I wording that correctly?” He felt confused at her wordy explanation. “What you see is what you get. Irkens are a fluid species. Now, as to what we’re attracted to, it depends on who you talk to.” Jinx shrugged then, “I’m attracted to power, a good challenging mind and someone who won’t mind submitting to my will.” He quirked his lips up then.

 

Dakota laughed nervously at that answer, “I meant…well, it doesn’t matter anymore.” She didn’t want to go down the topic of sexuality. It was a rocky road. “You told me yours, then…” She thought aloud, “On Earth, we have sex for procreation or just for fun. As you…experienced…humans sell items specifically for that purpose.” She really hoped he caught on quickly, not wanting to lecture him about sex toys.

 

He clearly remembered that moment, his eyes widening in realization when he remembered something specific and looking down at her, “You were too small for that artifact!”

 

The woman froze quickly, “W-what?”

 

“That purple thing that you kept in that box, I thought it was a weapon.” He accused.

 

She couldn’t help but blush at what he meant, “Penises come in many sizes and—and I was able to take you well so that’s why!” She cried out, mildly embarrassed, “Though what I would do was for therapeutic purposes.”

 

He eyed her suspiciously, “The night we met you were…”

 

“It’s called masturbation.” She muttered, “Self-stimulation, it relieves tension.” Dakota paused then, “I had a lot of tension.” She added. “This isn’t about me, anyway. Humans have strict rules for this kind of stuff…” Dakota trailed off, trying to find a good word, “I suppose if I were to word it, a courtship process is made to take a partner.” She began to gesture with her hands, although uncertainty. “It varies from culture to culture on how that goes, but it’s all steeped in a tradition.”

 

The Irken’s antennae fell flat and he tipped her over so he could grab at the tablet in front of them, “Your planet is the most complicated one I’ve ever come across.” He stated quickly, inputting something in the tablet and keeping it out of her view. Dakota tried to look, but his other hand fell across her face and inched her back behind the screen.

 

“What are you doing?” She questioned, slightly offended.

 

“You all keep records of human mating practices on your own network. I’ve come across this multiple times while exploring your connections to this ….internet?”

 

Dakota’s back straightened once she heard some familiar sounds that could only come from certain videos, the moans and grunts of sex that made her inhale the wrong way before coughing, forcing out a laugh that came from her very core. She couldn’t stop laughing at the absurdity of it, of the Irken having watched a porno for research.

 

Jinx looked irritated at her reaction, bringing the tablet in front of her face, “Well, I’m waiting for you to explain this.”

 

“Ah…” She flushed at the sight, quickly putting her hand over the view of the raunchy video, “Recreation purposes. Human sex…it’s very popular.” She quickly found the pause button on the video and stopped it. “It’s called porn, and people actually make money off of this. It’s…” She trailed off, shrugging. “It’s a—“

 

“It’s not just a human thing.” He said it long before she could finish her thought. “You’d be surprised what goes on outside of your universe, female.” He quirked a grin then.

 

Dakota didn’t want to think about that, not just yet. She wasn’t ever going to leave her planet any time soon, and Jinx wouldn’t be able to take her. She would make sure of that. “I’ll take your word for it.” She said finally, taking the tablet out of his hand and placing it back on the floor. “However, while we’re on the subject, I …have to repay you for your kindness.” She slipped off of his lap quickly and got to her feet, reaching for his hands and pulling him up with her.

 

From how flushed the female looked Jinx knew something was whirring in that brain of hers, reaching up to cup her chin and tilting it towards him. He dipped down to lick her lips, urging them to part before his tongue delved between them. She moved to accept the kiss greedily but stopped, pulling back and shaking her head, effectively stopping him for the first time.

 

“Not yet.” She said to him, pressing her finger to his lips and giving him a small smile. She walked him further back until the bed stopped them. Dakota flashed him a smile and then shoved him back onto the bed quickly, using her own mental powers to overpower the other before he could stop it.

 

Jinx growled threateningly at the stunt, glaring at her until she climbed onto the bed after him, smirking like she had the upper hand. He didn’t like that, moving upright before Dakota stopped him again, slowly straddling his legs.

 

“If you fight me then you won’t get anything.” She told him smugly, leaning down to kiss him again.

 

He wanted to take control, it was practically screaming for him to switch their positions so he could finish what she was trying to start. She didn't really attempt to pin him down fully, like she was testing him and hoping he would play along. He growled against her mouth, biting down on her lower lip and sucking lightly before something made his breath catch in his throat. What escaped him was a strained groan, never really feeling that sensation before, his eyes trained on the female above him as she continued to smile down at him. She had reached past his robes to touch him more intimately. He could feel her fully, her thin fingers actually inside of him and working on coaxing out his appendage. He hissed out when she continued to stroke the tip, arching back against the bed.

 

"I managed to look up Irken anatomy before you arrived." She said brightly, "It's amazing, I thought it was just an alien dick, but it's something more. It's fascinating that it retracts when you don't need it." She continued to coax the thick, flexible, tentacle-like phallus further out of its slit, feeling how slick it was with his own juices. "Mhm." She hummed pleasantly, taking in how he was fully immersed in what she was doing. "Thank you for being predictable." She said praisingly, continuing to run her hand up and down his length in slow strokes.

 

Jinx tried hard to speak, hissing every now and then. He remembered this sensation, but it was rare. This entire act was rare, it was an intimate gesture in the Empire. The only thing he could do was actually submit to her touch and allow himself to enjoy it rather than try to dissect why she was doing it, groaning again when the feeling of her hand was replaced with something warm and wet and— 

 

Fuck.

 

It was the first time Dakota had done anything like this, hoping that it wasn’t going to come off as bad or inexperienced. She watched enough porn to know how to do it, sucking on his girth with just enough pressure and running her tongue along his flesh. He tasted different, he tasted sweet. It was just like tasting candy under her tongue and she couldn’t help but shiver at the realization that she was definitely going to do this even more in the future. She bobbed her head slowly, working on taking more of him in as far as she could go. The sweet taste was lingering in her throat and she swallowed greedily, eliciting another hiss and groan from her Irken as she continued to coax him towards the edge. He tasted just like a lollipop, which was just as humorous because at the rate she was sucking him off, she could be swallowing up whatever he gave her soon. When Dakota felt fingers grasping her hair she couldn’t help but moan against him, feeling herself get worked up over this entire process. She was certain that she was wet, and she knew that he was going to attack her once she had her way. Somehow she was okay with that.

 

Jinx growled out the closer he was getting to the edge, torn in between letting her drink him and ripping her delicious mouth away so he could ravage her in another way. He never thought he’d actually enjoy this little female having so much control over him, but given what she was doing, this was going to be the only thing he’d allow her to do. The pressure was continuing to mount inside of him and he continued to guide her mouth by pulling her hair, his own orgasm coming in a thundering wave that had him crying out, his entire body going tense as he released himself into her mouth and groaning further as he felt her swallowing everything he had, his body quickly going limp as his mind went blank from the pleasure.

 

Dakota was quick to realize what was happening as she felt his hands completely go lax against her head. Removing herself quickly from his body as his pack whirred back to life and proceeded to send an electric shock through his entire body, bringing him back. She realized that it happened every time he had an orgasm, having been caught in it once before. She wanted to ask him about it but quickly kept that aside, slowly climbing over him again and settling herself against his chest, smiling lazily at him as if she won an argument.

 

“Well?” She teased.

 

Jinx curled his arm possessively around Dakota’s waist, flipping them over instantly and dipping down to claim her mouth into a fierce kiss. He grinned when her body reacted in the way he wanted it, how her legs wrapped around his waist as she took him greedily.

 

It could have gotten somewhere, it could have been an enjoyable experience.

 

Until a grenade shattered through the bedroom window and exploded into gas, causing them both to cough until the fumes knocked them out.

Chapter Text

The drive back to Bycoast wasn’t as tense as the drive to the old shack in the middle of nowhere. Matthew didn’t look like he was going to murder anyone anymore, unless that person was Dib’s father. Dib didn’t know how to feel about that, really. His feelings were mixed on the subject. His father wasn’t really a good father to begin with, thinking he was insane most of the time and doubting Dib’s knowledge and evidence in the paranormal. But then, he tried to be there for his children, even carving out days where it was just family time. Professor Membrane was neither a good or bad father, but he wasn’t really winning any brownie points with the shit he’d been doing to Dakota.

 

Matthew, however, was in a tormented mix of emotions on his own. It mainly involved his own wife, and how she had been lying to him for years. His own feelings were mixed, as he had fallen for her for a reason. She was the girl he married, she was his best friend. She supported him, even if that meant sharing his heart with another woman. On the other hand, she willingly allowed Dakota to be drugged against her will. She lied about the influx of money she was getting and saying that her art sold off to a high bidder, and she fucking let Dakota be drugged into a submissive shell of a brilliant girl that he once knew. He didn’t know if he still loved her with this revelation, even after she had the balls to suggest they let Dakota go and move on. What about their children? Christ, what would Tabby and Abby do if they knew? No, they were too young to be caught up into this mess. He couldn’t deal with Everett right now, he was determined to get Dakota back. After that Irken was dead and gone, then he’d think about his future with his wife.

 

It was a quiet two hours as they stewed in their own thoughts, neither of them speaking until it was necessary. When they finally got into town, Matthew took the street towards the shoddy motel.

 

“Wait.” Dib said quickly, “Stay on this road.” He pointed back towards the main road.

 

Matthew quickly flipped a u-turn, which he was able to do at 3AM with no traffic. “Where are we going?” He questioned.

 

“My old house.” Dib explained, “Turn left at the third light and keep driving.”

 

Matthew glanced at Dib, “Tell me your father still lives there.” He sounded ready for a fight.

 

“No, he bought out a building so he could live right next to his facility after I went to college. I don’t really think my sister lives there anymore either, but if she does I should warn you about Gaz.”

 

“The one who fried your laptop?” Matthew questioned.

 

“The very same.” Dib sighed, “She’s…not to be messed with, Matthew. It doesn’t matter who you are, she doesn’t care. She’s also dad’s pride and joy after he realized that I wasn’t going to follow in his footsteps, so she’s basically untouchable.”

 

Matthew grumbled, turning left at the third light. “No one’s untouchable.” He told him.

 

“She’s not no one.” Dib countered, worried that Matthew would try and do something. “Please, don’t try to provoke her. You can’t imagine what she’s capable of.”

 

The man didn’t answer, looking irritated at the explanation.

 

“Turn right here.” Dib instructed.

 

Matthew instead turned left, glaring at the road.

 

Dib’s brows raised, “Matthew?”

 

The man stayed silent, making a sharp right turn at the next corner and pressing down on the gas.

 

“MATTHEW!” Dib knew where he was going, holding onto the door when the man began to speed up. “There’s no way we can fight him!” He cried out.

 

“I told you before, Dib.” Matthew growled out, “I can fucking rip his head off if I wanted to.” Another sharp turn.

 

“Jesus Christ we’re going to die.” Dib said to himself as the sight of Zim’s base came into view. Only, something was off. The closer the truck got to the house Dib could see something was wrong. “Matthew, stop the truck!” He shouted.

 

Matthew did one last sharp turn, parking it quickly before shoving himself out. Dib yelped and scrambled out of the truck with him after quickly grabbing his gun. Dread felt like ice in his veins as he took in the sight of the house. The lawn gnomes looked like they were blasted by cannons, the front door was broken and the glass windows were shattered. The lights weren’t on at all.

 

Matthew also noticed the demolished state of the house, his senses going on high alert. He crouched immediately, pressing his back against the wall and peeking into the house. His blood was on fire, as if he was expecting a battle at any moment.

 

“This is wrong.” Dib whispered to Matthew, crouching under the window. “The gnomes were his best line of defense, why would he destroy them?”

 

Matthew pursed his lips into a thin line, cracking his knuckles before urging the door further open. There wasn’t anyone inside the house, no sign of anything. He proceeded to enter the room, staying quiet to hear anything abnormal. It was entirely quiet, even the machines weren’t humming like the last time they entered.

 

Dib kept his gun out, following Matthew inside and slowly standing up, trying the light switch. Nothing.

 

“Computer?” Dib called out. “Computer, answer me.”

 

Matthew continued to hear nothing, and it was eerier than if the Irken was lying in wait.

 

Dib turned around and ran back out of the house, heading for the truck and digging into his bag once he got himself in the truck bed. He pulled out some various items and came back into the house. “Whoever was here cut the security completely offline.” He called out to Matthew, pulling out a tablet and going to a specific place in the house, breaking open a panel in the wall and working on the cables.

 

Matthew was already upstairs, his senses kicking in overdrive. He made his way to the room where the broken window was, taking in the messy sheets and the dried alien spunk on them. He bit back a sudden thought and stepped closer to the window. The break wasn’t something Dakota did herself, or else the window would have been shattered into smaller pieces. This break was bigger, as if something was thrown into the window. He backtracked, smelling a faint smell of sex. Again, he bit back a thought, trying to piece it together. Whatever happened, it was while Dakota and….him…were….

 

The lights flickered back on suddenly and the humming came back to life, a laser gun protruding from the ceiling and aiming down at Matthew threateningly. Matthew kept still until something happened. Just as fast as it appeared, the gun returned back into the ceiling, telling Matthew that Dib had done something to the computer’s security.

 

Matthew looked back down at the broken glass, following it until something caught his eye. A small canister under the bed, it was a gas grenade. He dropped down and took it quickly, studying the empty canister and zeroing in on a familiar logo.

 

“DIB!” Matthew shouted out as he sprinted out the room and took to the stairs two at a time. Dib was on the floor, staring at something on the tablet.

 

“I know what you’re going to say, Matthew.” Dib said distractedly.

 

Matthew snarled, showing Dib the empty grenade, “Your family is a real pain in the ass Dib,”

 

Dib nodded solemnly, turning the tablet around to show him a video feed of the front yard, operatives in black camo storming the house before a lone figure stepped calmly into the doorway. She had long, purple hair curled up at the ends and an irritated look on her pale face, wearing a violet three-piece suit and sharply angled heels.

 

“Let me guess.” Matthew breathed, “That’s Gaz.”

 

Dib nodded, “And she has both of them.”

 

 


 

 

Membrane Labs wasn’t a monolith like the other towers in Bycoast. It was decent sized compared to other corporations and factories, but Dib knew that when it came to his father, looks were deceiving. They waited until it was midnight the following night to make their move. Dib knew Gaz would be expecting him, and given what they knew, that Gaz was probably expecting Matthew as well.

 

The only way that Gaz found out that Dakota was inside Zim’s base was if someone had spoken to her themselves, and that someone was all the way in New Haven, worried sick over her husband. Matthew had to ignore that one fact if he needed to get Dakota back, how his wife had freely handed her over to the enemy.

 

Matthew didn’t like the fact that he was restricted from killing anyone on this mission, his talents reduced to stealth and sleeper holds while Dib had a tranquilizer gun that stunned security guards from afar. Dib had managed to get them inside with Membrane’s own security ID, the man conveniently being in Germany at the moment for business. Probably out there ruining someone else’s life, Matthew surmised bitterly.

 

Membrane’s facility only looked small on the outside, as on the inside it reached downward, underground floors that had fake windows exposing equally fake views of the outdoors. The atmosphere reminded him of the old biochemical zombie movies, the first one with that woman in the red dress. Matthew half expected a fucking zombie to come at him from nowhere instead of actual living and breathing scientists.

 

The security cameras looked menacing on their own, and he didn’t trust that Dib had already hacked into the Lab’s security system to take care of them. The fact that they were there didn’t sit right to him. It felt like a fucking ambush, like Dib’s sister was patiently waiting for them. Matthew only wished he had his shotgun when Dib finally parted from Matthew so they could split up, giving the man Membrane’s security card so he could get into the rooms.

 

Matthew was left to his own devices with his own tranquilizer gun, a strap full of tranq darts and wearing a tactical vest full of expensive doo-dads he wasn’t familiar with. He really didn’t need them if he was going to rely on his stealth, weaving his way through the halls and checking every window. At the fifth room something familiar caught his eye, and he used the key card to get inside. No one was inside the room.

 

He stilled completely when the power was cut suddenly, his eye twitching as he heard the auxiliary power kick in for the machines around him, yet the lights remained completely off. He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that it was Dib making their task a little easier.

 

He slowly went for the blinds for the main window, closing them up so he could use the room fully. The nearby machines hummed ominously and he forgot about looking through his map so he could inspect them. Their size and shape were too familiar, the entire room looked like a memory from his past. Flashes of recollection hit him the longer he studied the faint glow of the room, remembering a time when he was young and stupid, laughing jovially with his friends as they all cracked jokes while they were hooked up to the machines, not knowing what exactly was going to happen to them. He remembered Membrane’s own chuckle at their humor, how he cut in with a line of his own before his bunkmate laughed heartily.

 

Matthew swallowed thickly, grimacing at the memories and holding his head, taking a ragged breath. This memory is how it all started… Membrane was the reason—

 

“Find anything familiar, Mr. Drake?” A feminine voice broke through his thoughts. Matthew took a sharp intake of breath and whirled around, seeing that woman from the video feed. She was pointing a gun at him, not a conventional gun that he recognized, but it was still a gun. “I’m sure you heard me tell Dib over the phone to stop searching, and yet you’re both here. I really don’t like people sticking their heads where they don’t belong, Mr. Drake.”

 

Matthew glared at her, “Gaz, am I correct?”

 

The woman smirked, “Well, if we’re on a first name basis, then I don’t mind calling you Matthew. I do hope Dib warned you about me, because it’d be very stupid of him if he didn’t.”

 

“Yeah, I got the warning.” He growled out, his hands forming into fists. “Excuse me but I don’t believe in the bullshit that you’re untouchable. No one is invincible, Gaz, you included.”

 

She cracked her eye open, exposing a sharp brown hue like her brother’s. “That’s funny, Matthew. You say that about everyone you meet and you go about life pretending like you’re the only one exempt from the rule. But, you are, aren’t you?” She stepped forward slowly, “You’re a perfect example of untouchable, given what my father had done to you.”

 

Matthew growled out, taking an aggressive stance, “If you want to keep breathing then don’t come closer, Gaz.”

 

She genuinely smiled, stopping immediately, “It’s about time I get that, most men don’t enjoy hitting a lady, thinking I’m just so weak and frail because I’m a woman. Those men don’t really last long. You’re smarter than I took you for, you understand what a real threat is.” She gestured towards the machines behind him, “You of all people know what a threat is, given that you are one of them. How has life been for you, Matthew? How many times have you become fully aggressive and lashed out at others? Those back alley bar fights of yours, how many bones did you exactly break?”

 

Matthew’s eye twitched, and he stepped back. “Is your father fucking spying on me?” He shouted in a broken pitch.

 

“Membrane Inc. likes to keep tabs on all of their experiments, Matthew. Congratulations, you’re the only one of your crew has survived the blood transfusion after this long. You’re impressing my father every single year. That and you’ve actually procured a wife and children! We didn’t think you would last so long, being as…aggressive…as you are.” She smirked teasingly, “I have to wonder if that’s why you’ve taken to that girl so well.”

 

“WHERE’S DAKOTA?” He snarled, doing his best not to attack her. She still had that gun poised at his chest. Matthew could feel the blood rushing through his veins, knowing she was antagonizing him on purpose.

 

Gaz chuckled, “She’s being kept safe, you’ll see her soon, Matthew. This is actually impressive, how you’re holding yourself back. You’ve come to control your aggression so well. We never thought that any of you could get to that point. My father never expected you any of you to live past thirty, and most of you had either gotten yourselves killed or had a heart attack and just dropped.”

 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” He cried out, “Just what the fuck have you done to me?”

 

“I would have thought it would click once you’ve encountered that Irken, Matthew.” She said amusedly, “You both have so much in common.”

 

“OUT WITH IT!” He finally lashed out at the equipment behind him, grabbing for his tranquilizer gun and aiming it at her.

 

Gaz didn’t look frightened by him, she wasn’t intimidated or threatened, just calm and collected. She had the upper hand right now. Her eyes weren’t squinting like they were before, looking fully at Matthew like he was a plaything, just a toy. “That blood my father exchanged with yours is Irken blood, Matthew. Irkens, they’re so….versatile. Amazing soldiers that could do so much damage without any effort. Their aggression is higher than normal human males, just pumped full of alien testosterone.”

 

The more Gaz talked the more Matthew’s face drained of color, his hands trembling violently at the revelation. This had to be a lie, this had to be some kind of fucking trick. She was playing mind games with him. There was no way he had Irken blood in his veins. “You’re lying.” He said in a small voice, one that was shaken to its core.

 

“Why would I be lying? My father, he pretended for so long that aliens weren’t real. My brother was such a UFO nut job back then. If my father ever revealed that he actually believed aliens exist then the planet would have gone into a panic. Humans don’t like knowing that there’s other beings out there, Matthew. They grow fearful and anxious. Look at how they treat their own species. If someone has another race, there’s bound to be people that think they’re going to be attacked by them. Now imagine if they knew about Irkens….”

 

Matthew’s breaths were becoming quick and short, shaking his head over and over in denial. “You’re just trying to fuck with me.” He said accusingly. “You’re trying to fucking get my guard down!”

 

Gaz stepped forward again, “You’re the last surviving human with Irken blood, Matthew Drake, you’re one of my father’s successful experiments.”

 

Something clicked behind her, and Gaz stilled, feeling the butt of a gun pressed against the back of her head. She lowered the gun she had poised on Matthew slowly, aware of who it was behind her. “Dib.”

 

“Gaz.” Dib greeted her shortly, pressing the gun slightly, “ I’m going to ask you once. Where’s Dakota and that Irken?”

 

Gaz gritted her teeth, keeping her hands visible. “You don’t know what you’re doing, Dib.”

 

“I know exactly what I’m doing Gaz.” He began to check her pockets quickly, unearthing her key card. “Answer my question!”

 

She grimaced, “The girl’s on the fourth floor and the Irken’s in the holding tanks. You’re going to fuck us all over if you do what I think you’re doing, Dib. This isn’t the time to—“

 

Matthew ripped the gun out of Gaz’s hand and pressed it to her neck, “Shut the fuck up!” He hissed out.

 

“MATTHEW!” Dib shouted, “Kill my sister and I won’t hesitate to retaliate!” He glared at the other steadily, “Go to the fourth floor, get Dakota.”

 

Matthew swallowed in what rage he was feeling and nodded slowly, stepping back with a look of disgust on his face. “She better be there.” He warned, leaving quickly.

 

Dib pocketed the key card and kept his gun trained on Gaz. “You really want to fuck with people’s lives like dad’s doing?” He questioned his sister. “Are you that inhumane that you want to continue these corrupted experiments?”

 

“It’s for the greater good, Dib!” Gaz cried out, glaring at him. “You don’t know what’s coming!”

 

Humor me!” He shouted, still aiming at her, “Do me a favor and let me in on this family secret!”

 

Gaz looked agitated and stressed, pursing her lips together in thought before rolling her eyes and looking away. “Our satellites are picking up signals, okay? Something is coming to Earth and they want that Irken. If you still have loyalty to our planet then you will leave that Irken here, Dib. Both of them! That girl is dangerous to everyone—“

 

“She’s dangerous to everyone because she was taught to fear her natural abilities!” Dib interrupted her, “It doesn’t help that dad proceeded to pump her full of unknown chemicals! I’m not allowing this to happen, Gaz. It goes against my morality to allow you to experiment on an innocent girl that didn’t deserve it!”

 

“She killed Simmons, Dib!” Gaz cried out, enraged, “She killed everyone in that laboratory! She killed her own parents!”

 

“I doubt it was on purpose!” Dib continued to move back towards the door. “I’m not allowing dad to ruin any more lives, Gaz. Or you.” He escaped the room, shutting the door quickly before Gaz could reach him. He locked the room just as she began trying to get it open, casting one last pitiful look upon his sister before leaving.

 


 

 

The glass was unbreakable, he discovered that upon waking. He also come to learn that is pack legs were deactivated. Jinx gritted his teeth and slammed his hands against the glass, trying his best to get it open, smash, break, anything. He even slammed his head against it, hoping to get somewhere, but all it did was give him a painful headache.

 

After a while attempting to release himself he instead took in the surroundings. Outside the glass tube was a laboratory, a pristine white laboratory with large machines and even more tubes that were glowing blue, filled with the same liquid that he was surrounded in. The weird part was he wasn’t drowning, he was still breathing as if the liquid was designed for such a thing. To his right was a monitor that kept track of his vitals, and he quickly scanned himself, finding that sensors were stuck into his skin. His robes were just gone, and he knew where they were, peering past a desk and seeing them hung up on display, along with his gauntlets and boots. Beyond that were more tanks, one glowing a certain shade of green.

 

If he was here, then where was his female? He growled at the thought, wondering if she was even safe at the moment. Whoever caught him had also caught her, and who knows what was going to happen to either of them. He wondered if they even knew what they got themselves into, capturing someone who knew how to kill without a single thought. He’d just have to wait for someone to try something, and then he’d be able to escape this trap.

 

Jinx didn’t know how long it was until he spotted the human, seeing the door flash green and open up to a single human male. He didn’t look like he belonged here, he obviously wasn’t a scientist. The Irken watched the human search the room carefully before noticing him, running up to the holding tank and looking relieved. Jinx only narrowed his eyes, as if challenging the human to release him. He wouldn’t mind killing this one.

 

“I’m here to help you!” The human called out from the other side, looking agitated at Jinx’s reaction. It took some time for Jinx to realize just who this human was, remembering him from the base. This was the human that attempted to battle him, the human that distracted him away from the tattooed one, Matthew. Jinx blinked dumbly, wondering why the fuck he was there to help him.

 

“You’re insane.” He said from inside the tube. His words made Dib grin in a silly way and shrugged lightly.

 

“I get that a lot.” The human replied nonchalantly before holding up a finger and darting away.

 

Jinx waited patiently for the human to make good on his word, suddenly hearing something click and the blue liquid around him began to drain away. He took the moment to rip the sensors from his body, extracting bloody needles and grimacing as he did. There was a larger clank and the glass split in two, the front of it opening like a doorway and allowing him an exit.

 

“Are you okay?” Dib asked as soon as Jinx walked out.

 

“I’ll be better when you tell me why you came to my aide, human.” Jinx told him, heading straight for his robes.

 

“Call it a nasty habit of mine to care about people that don’t deserve it.” Dib answered him honestly, “Given what you’ve done to all of us, I shouldn’t have even bothered.”

 

“Understandable.” Jinx said as he dressed himself, “Where is the other one. Matthew?”

 

“He’s gone to rescue Dakota.” Dib headed back towards the door, “I propose a truce for the time being, if you want to get out of here in one piece.”

 

Jinx didn’t follow him, “What about the other Irken?” He questioned.

 

Dib stopped at the door, “Other Irken?”

 

He motioned for Dib to follow, heading for the other end of the room that was within Jinx’s view from his own tank. He stopped at the last tank that was glowing differently, bathed in a green light. Inside of the tank was a smaller Irken, one that looked like it was taken apart and put back together repeatedly. Its pack was missing, in place were metal wires that seemed to keep him living. The sight was a horrible one, in Jinx’s opinion, the Irken was clearly begging to die.

 

He heard a sharp intake of breath, and Dib ran up to the tank, pressing his hands against the glass and looking closer, his eyes wide at the realization of who it was. After all this time, he thought Zim had left Earth completely.

 

“Zim!” Dib cried out.

 

Jinx stilled, his antennae perking up slightly, “The Exile?”

 

Dib’s voice seemed to jar the Irken back to consciousness, his eyes opening gradually and taking in the familiar face in front of him. “Dib-thing?” He rasped, fully roused now and staring at Dib with awe. “You’ve come back to Zim.”

 

Dib’s hands were shaking slightly, hearing Zim’s voice was like hearing something wonderful. He never thought he’d see Zim ever again, his first obsession and the closest thing he ever had to a friend in his horrible childhood. It was only when he took in the stitches on his small torso, his arms, his legs, the missing right antennae, the lack of pack on his back, something ugly began to twist in his gut. “Zim…” He breathed, stepping back. “What have they done to you?”

 

“The humans have tried to break Zim.” The small Irken rasped out, grinning slowly, “They’ve tried for years. I wouldn’t let them, Zim is too strong to be broken. Zim is invincible!” Upon the sight of Jinx, Zim’s eyes went wide and he began to quiver, “M-My Tallest—“ He breathed.

 

Jinx snorted in amusement, “No—“ Dib’s elbow caught him in the gut hard, and the Irken looked down at Dib quickly, seeing Dib’s anguish beyond his brown eyes. Dib shook his head slowly, silently pleading to him to play along. Jinx looked back at Zim, straightening his back. “Yes, Zim?”

 

“After all this time, my Tallest has finally answered Zim. Where’s Tallest Purple?” He asked quietly, staring at him as if Dib was never there. “I must make my report…I’ve finally done it, my Tallest, I’ve finally conquered Earth.”

 

Jinx heard Dib choke down emotions, seeing the man try to hold back a tear. It wasn’t working. Jinx looked away, towards the door, “Purple is…uh…he’s holding the fort back at the Massive. It’s just me, Zim.”

 

Zim watched Jinx with glazed wonder, “Zim has waited for this day…” He choked up a sob, “My Tallest, please, Zim craves your praise. All of this was to please you both!”

 

Dib finally turned away, letting out painful groans and moving a hand to Jinx’s arm. The Irken looked down at Zim, assuming his training and regarding Zim as if he was just that, a Tallest. “Zim, you’ve been our most loyal invader to date. We will commend you for your loyalty to us and to the Empire. I will personally consult with the Control Brain to raise your status, and you will be welcomed back into the Irken Elite.”

 

Dib couldn’t watch, listening to Jinx lie to Zim with promises of something that would never happen. He knew very well that Zim wasn’t ever going to make it outside that tank. He was all too familiar with the delusions of someone who was barely holding on to his life. He kept himself quiet for Zim’s benefit, to keep the delusion alive. Zim deserved just that, because it was the only thing he was waiting for, recognition from his leaders.

 

Zim’s lip quivered, breathing heavily as he reached forward to touch the glass. “Thank you, My Tallest—I will forever remember this triumphant day—“ He began to cough, breathing raggedly as if his body was starting to shut down. “Zim has finally completed his mission…”

 

Jinx let out a tired sigh, looking at Zim with pity. This poor Irken, keeping himself alive to hold on to a hollow dream that had slowly become his own reality. He reached out to touch the glass, keeping one of his fingers hidden away from Zim’s sight. “You deserve to rest now, soldier. You’ve deserved it.” He said solemnly.

 

Zim looked blissfully content at the words of his Tallest, finally smiling and wiggling what was left of his antennae in salute before his eyelids finally lost their strength, the Irken taking one last ragged sigh before the monitors at the side of his tank went flat.

 

Dib shut his eyes, hearing the flatline of the monitor finally breaking his resolve. He cried out horribly and collapsed to the floor, crying ugly tears that wracked through his chest.

 

Jinx frowned slowly, watching the floating small Irken and dipping his head. He didn’t feel emotional towards the death, numb over decades of seeing his own people die in battles and wars. This passing of a single Irken, broken beyond repair, was just that, a passing.

 

At least he died with the illusion of dignity, Jinx thought idly.

 

The Irken crouched next to Dib and put his hand on his shoulder, shaking it slightly. “He died a soldier’s death, human. Let’s get out of this place first, and you may mourn later.”

 

Dib glared at the floor, bristling at Jinx’s words but pushing back his emotions for now, raising to his feet and focusing on a steady breath.

 

He unplugged the monitor before they left, putting aside the anguish that pulled at his heart.

 


 

The most disturbing thing was how there wasn’t any alarms. The path leading back to their truck was just that, a path without any resistance, as if the security guards were called away and told specifically to allow their escape.

 

Dib and Jinx met up with Dakota and Matthew at the first floor, Dakota running from Matthew to jump into the Irken’s arms. Dib remained quiet, watching Matthew’s face twist into some kind of jealous agony at the sight. There was something else there, too, in the man’s blue eyes. He remembered Matthew’s encounter with Gaz, feeling sick over the revelation.

 

Matthew tried to ignore that tormenting feeling in his gut, looking over at Dib. There was something about him, how he looked utterly beaten as if something devastating had taken place. It was something Dib couldn’t hide away no matter how much he tried. He began to laugh bitterly, because both of them were leaving this facility without any problem and yet they had just been though harsh emotional trauma.

 

“Let’s just go before Gaz changes her mind.” Dib said after Matthew’s sudden laugh.

 

It wasn’t until they got into the truck that the silence was broken again.

 

“Where do we go?” Dakota questioned, sitting in the back with Jinx, her eyes brightening at the possibility of going back home. “New Haven?”

 

“We’re not going back to New Haven.” Matthew bit out suddenly, angry at the thought.

 

“But Everett—“

 

“Everett can wait, Dakota.” The man interrupted her.

 

“The base is safer.” Jinx said then, circling his arms around Dakota possessively.

 

"The base isn’t safe at all.” Dib argued. “I think this rescue mission just proves that.”

 

Matthew stewed in his ire, training his eyes on the road instead of the rear-view mirror and the Irken behind him.

 

“We have nowhere to go.” Dakota pointed out, “If we can’t go home, and if we can’t go back to that base, then there’s nothing left. What if they want to come back for us?”

 

“Gaz let us go willingly.” Dib explained simply, “If she wanted to keep you there, we wouldn’t have made it out without any problem.” He looked towards Matthew and pointed him down a road. “Go back to my house.”

 

“Why would she let us go so easily if she done so much to capture us?” Dakota questioned seriously, “It makes no sense, there’s no rational reason to it.”

 

“There’s a reason behind it, just not one you would think of.” Dib said irritably as he realized just what his sister was planning. “Gaz had done us a favor, because she expects us to repay her for her kindness.”

 

“What kindness?” Jinx hissed out.

 

“Your fucking family isn’t really full of sugar and spice, Dib.” Matthew growled out.

 

“Just trust me on this. She let us go freely for a price, and that price is to be paid on her own terms. I don’t like it as much as you do, but that’s how she operates.” Dib shouted, “I think I know what she wants us to do, too.”

 

“What does she want?” Dakota questioned, worried.

 

Dib pinched the bridge of his nose. “She wants us to leave the planet.”

Chapter Text

Matthew was the first to explode, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN?” He bellowed, “Leave the PLANET?”

 

“Matthew! The road!” Dakota cried out when Matthew swerved.

 

Jinx was the only one that didn’t say anything, already thinking.

 

Dib hung onto his seat, “That’s what I’m thinking, okay?” Dib cried out, “Look, she told me something extremely important before I locked her in that room.” He said quickly, “The satellites have been picking up alien activity, and what she’s gathered is that they’re Irkens on the way here for him.” He looked back at Jinx pointedly.

 

“IS THAT ALL?” Matthew shoved his foot on the brake, “Get the fuck out of my truck, you green piece of shit!”

 

“Matthew!” Dakota cried out, “We’re not giving Jinx over to anyone!”

 

“They’re coming here for him and him only, let’s just hand the fucker over, Dakota! He’s the reason we’re in this mess!” Matthew stressed.

 

“Jinx may be the reason we’re here but he’s also the reason I’m in my right mind!” She shouted defensively.

 

“I’m not leaving this planet without my female.” Jinx growled out at Matthew.

 

The man turned to glare dangerously at Jinx, “You want to fucking try me, buddy? I’ll fucking rip your arms apart—“

 

“QUIET!” Dib shouted over them, glaring at everyone. “If we were to give Jinx up to the Irkens then it’s not going to solve anything!” He pointed at Dakota. “Because you’re a threat to Earth just by being here,” then to Matthew, “And you’re a hazardous experiment waiting to snap. Gaz wants not only Jinx off the planet but both of you as well! I’m not happy about any of this as much as you are but if you all just listen to me then we can get out of this alive.” He smacked the dashboard, “Matthew, we’re going back to Zim’s base.”

 

“Why?” Matthew questioned in irritation.

 

“Because there’s a teleporter there that will take us to Zim’s space station, it’s right over the Earth and will keep us safe for the time being.”

 

“W-we’re really leaving Earth?” Dakota squeaked out.

 

Dib fixed Dakota a reassuring smile, “We’re still on Earth, just a few thousand miles above it. From there we can figure out what we’re going to do and I can get in contact with Gaz.”

 

Jinx glared at Dib wearily, “As long as this isn’t a trap, human. I’m not about to give myself up to anyone.”

 

“We’re going to need you anyhow, Jinx.” Dib said tiredly, “My Irken is a little rusty and you need to help me read everything that I won’t be able to translate.”

 

“I’m not really keen on sharing a room with this red-eyed, green piece of shit back here.” Matthew piped up, glaring at Jinx from the rear-view mirror, Jinx matched that glare with one of his own.

 

“Not now!” Dakota stressed, “We need to work together right now and if you two end up fighting then nothing is going to be resolved.” She reached up to feel Matthew’s shoulders and how tense he was. “Do me a favor, okay? Try and get past your mutual hatred.”

 

Jinx looked irritated at Dakota’s caring touch towards Matthew, holding onto her tighter. “As long as he knows you’re mine.”

 

Matthew grit his teeth and breathed in slowly through his nose, forcing down the next string of choice words that bubbled up in his lungs and turning the truck back on. “For you, Dakota.” He said finally.

 

Dib breathed a sigh of relief and sat against the seat, suddenly feeling more tired and worn out than before.

 


 

He wasn’t all there after taking charge of the situation, giving everyone a task and making sure to keep Matthew and Jinx separated as soon as they got on the space station. He was moving automatically, going through the motions while mentally detaching himself from everything. He had no time to think or grieve or be angry that his father was the reason why Zim had disappeared. He didn’t have that ability to fall apart and isolate himself from others. Everything was being held together by him and him alone. While Dakota was a great help, she couldn’t keep Matthew and Jinx from arguing with each other. He didn’t know how long he’d last like this, living outside of his own emotions.

 

Matthew knew something was wrong with Dib just by looking at him. He was in the Marines long enough to know how one looked like when they saw a friend die right before their eyes. He wondered if Dib knew it was completely visible, the way he attempted to keep himself together for the sake of everyone. He wanted to reach out like how Dib reached out for him, mostly because he didn’t want to deal with his own revelations. To know that his blood was that of the aliens he loathed, it made him angry and disgusted at the same time. He didn’t want to deal with that, with any of it. That he and that Irken had something in common, that he was the last surviving member of his squad. He was a fucking anomaly walking among other humans and thinking he was one of them when he clearly wasn’t. Matthew wished he didn’t know any of this, it was better to be left in the dark.

 

Matthew decided not to say anything when Jinx moved a now-sleeping Dakota into another room, as he knew that the Irken wouldn’t harm her in any way. If anything, that was the only thing that kept the man to keep his word to Dakota. He decided to look for his…friend? Would Dib be considered a friend by now? He snorted in amusement. Dib had seen him at his lowest and done his best to bring him back, so possibly. The fastest fucking friend he’s ever made within the span of a week.

 

He rested up against the doorway, watching Dib force himself to run diagnostics on the space station, he was visibly beaten. His skin was pallid and there were dark bags under his eyes. Matthew mused that if he tipped Dib over just slightly that the younger man would go crashing down like a ton of bricks.

 

“Take a fucking break.” He called out to the other.

 

“I can’t take a break, Matthew. If you haven’t noticed, I seem to be the one in charge here.” He sounded stressed.

 

Matthew pushed himself from the doorway and stepped over to him, “Dakota and the Irken are already somewhere else. Dib, just rest a bit. This place isn’t going to drop and hit the Earth any time soon.”

 

Dib narrowed his eyes in Matthew’s direction, looking agitated.

 

Matthew matched his stare, “I can do this all day, you know. Now, are you going to tell me what happened or are you going to work yourself to death?”

 

When Matthew hit the nail on the head Dib’s glare turned into a miserable glower, and all the stress seemed to overwhelm his features until he looked utterly broken. Dib hadn’t felt so goddamned weak in his life, he felt like he was back in high school when he thought Zim had left. He remembered spending sleepless nights searching for him, trying to find out where he went. The last transmission that was there told Dib a lot, that the Tallests had come out and told Zim that his mission was a lie, a blatant lie that they used to have him leave the Empire. It explained why the screen was smashed, and now it explained why Zim had held onto the delusion that his Tallests never told him any of it. Up until his final breath, Zim was still loyal to the Empire.

 

Dib allowed Matthew to drag him away from the terminal and somewhere more isolated, sitting next to Dib while the younger man began to tell him all about Zim, everything that the cartoon never showed. Stories that Matthew didn’t know about and how that at times, Zim and Dib weren’t really enemies anymore, but some strange form of friends that decided to keep up appearances so that they could have some semblance of rivalry. He told Matthew how he disappeared with no trace, nothing, like he just up and left everything behind and had dismantled his stupid teal robot that Dib still kept somewhere in his closet. When he finally made it to what had happened earlier, before they left Membrane Inc., Dib couldn’t hold in anything anymore, breaking down into an emotional wreck and crying like a part of his life just died.

 

Matthew stayed quiet as Dib broke down, dragging the boy against him and rubbing his back like he would have one of his daughters. He was no means a sensitive man, but he still knew that someone needed support when he saw it. Dib wasn’t anywhere close to being Abby or Tabby, but somewhere along the line they made some sort of a bond.

 

The unsaid words the hung over both of them was that Professor Membrane was the reason Dib lost that part of his life, that his own father took away someone he referred to as his only friend. Membrane was really batting a thousand with all these shitty things he had been doing over the years, but to kidnap someone Dib was closer to than anyone was by far the most despicable thing anyone could ever do. Zim never deserved this, to die in a holding tank inside a laboratory. He didn’t deserve to be sliced up in every way and dissected over and over. While Dib had wanted to when he was younger, that was a stupid dream, and now the memory of how horrible Zim looked had bore a hole within the pit of his stomach, reminding him that Dib wanted that to happen at a small point in his life.

 

“I’ve lost my fair share of friends.” Matthew said softly, “War does that to you, sometimes you don’t expect to see one of your buddies get shot right in front of you, but you learn quickly that it’s going to happen and you don’t have the ability to go back in time to stop it.” He thought for a moment. “Not that it doesn’t make the situation any less agonizing. Losing someone close to you is a terrible feeling, and the only thing that can make it better is time and liquor. Though, liquor just numbs it for a little while.”

 

“You drunk.” Dib muttered good-naturedly.

 

Matthew nudged him slightly with his shoulder. “Fuck off, man, I don’t drink often.”

 

“You had a shot of vodka before we stormed the facility.” Dib commented against his shoulder.

 

“That was to calm my nerves.” He defended himself, shrugging.

 

Dib finally shifted away from Matthew’s side and leaned back against the wall, bringing his knees up to his chest. “The part that hurts is that my sister knew about this and never told me.”

 

“Welcome to my world, Dib. I seem to be out of the loop on many things.” He commented dryly. “Fuck your sister, by the way.”

 

Dib sighed, “You’re right, though. My sister and my father, they seem to be the bad guys here. Suddenly Jinx doesn’t seem so awful.”

 

Matthew snorted at that, rolling his eyes.

 

“I’m serious.” Dib said defensively. “He…he actually did something good. He pretended to be Tallest Red and helped Zim let go.”

 

“He pretended to be someone he killed.” Matthew repeated, watching Dib wince.

 

“Still…he didn’t have to play along with Zim’s delusion…but…he did. Have you noticed Dakota? She seems different now…like…she knows how to think.” Dib looked away, towards the window displaying the stars before them. “I have a feeling he got rid of all those drugs in her system.”

 

Matthew stayed quiet, mulling over the information. The Irken actually was…helping her. No wonder she became so defensive of him. Not even Matthew couldn’t have done that for her, and because of that his gut twisted sourly.

 

He was one of Dakota’s dreams come to life.

 


 

Dakota was awakened with featherlight kisses to her neck, feeling fingers graze the waist of her panty line. She sighed pleasantly and twisted into the becoming touches, her eyes fluttering open to come face to face with Jinx’s head. She watched his antennae twitch just slightly, becoming curious as he continued to kiss even lower down to her chest. She reached up to slow feel his antennae, grinning brightly when she felt him breathe sharply and go still. She thought for a moment as she pet his stalks, angling it towards her mouth and running it along her tongue and giggling when he shuddered over her. Suddenly she felt his mouth close up against her breast, his teeth grazing her sensitive nipple as he responded to her ministrations. Those fingers of his delved further under her panties and sank further inside of her, a thumb running along her most sensitive spot and massaging it. Dakota breathed out a low moan and proceeded to take the stalk into her mouth completely, arching her hips up as he angled his own fingers.

 

The ministrations continued until Jinx finally slipped his antennae away from her mouth, tearing the thin barrier away-and the labcoat barely covering her-and growling possessively as he manhandled his human and twisting her into a desired position, burying his head between her thighs. What met his action was a series of whimpers and moans, higher than the last and small whispers of please and more. He took his time, wanting to draw it out for as long as possible and drinking in how desperate she was starting to sound. He kept a firm hold on her thighs, slipping his tongue deeper inside of her and lapping up what he could, feeling her hips convulse and press against him until he felt her unravel completely, tasing that sweet taste he  come to enjoy and drinking up her orgasm.

 

Dakota was left breathless, staring up at Jinx with wide eyes. If she wasn’t awake before she certainly was now, but something this good just made her want to sleep in his arms with him inside of her. She’s come to accept her sexual fascination in this Irken at this point, and it was hardly sick anymore.

 

The Irken before her shifted Dakota upright and brought his mouth to hers again, breaking it only to kiss down to her neck, making sure to leave a mark.

 

“Why do you taste so good?” He questioned her.

 

“Pineapple.”

 

“What’s pineapple?” Jinx looked confused.

 

Dakota pulled on a playful smile, “It’s a fruit that makes me taste good. I drink the juice and eat the fruit. My taste is dependent on what I eat, and there’s things that can make me taste sour or sweet. You don’t seem to have that problem, as you taste like candy.” Her eyes glittered mischievously, and she giggled. “The last thing I ate was you.” Her cheeks flushed at the comment.

 

Jinx purred, kissing her again, “I’m returning to earth to steal all the pineapples.”

 

Dakota outright laughed against his chest and buried her head, reaching down curiously under his robes and feeling that telltale phallus. “Lay back.” She whispered.

 

Jinx groaned against her neck and was about to comply until something pounded on the door to the room. The growl that escaped him was primal, the Irken tearing himself away from Dakota to address whoever robbed him of a prime opportunity. He made sure he was decent, throwing a sheet onto Dakota before shoving himself out the room.

 

“What?” He growled dangerously at Matthew, his antennae pinned back and waiting for him to make the first move.

 

Matthew looked like he expected the hostility, holding his hands up placatingly. “I’m just here to talk.” He said calmly. “Can we talk?” He ignored the fact that Jinx reeked of sex at the moment, shoving down his jealousy for the sake of being cordial.

 

Jinx didn’t trust Matthew one bit. “Talk.” He repeated, glaring at him.

 

“I’m unarmed, as you can see.” Matthew turned his hands and dug his hands into his pockets, pulling them out to reveal nothing hidden. “I just want to ask you something.”

 

The Irken slowly relaxed, but he was still quite weary. “Can it wait? I was doing something important.” He enhanced the last word, smirking slightly.

 

Matthew’s eye twitched but that was all, knowing bait when he heard it. “I just want to make sure you’re not just after Dakota for an easy lay.” He bit out, “I know very well what’s been going on between the two of you and I understand that she’s an adult that can do what she wants, but my concern isn’t about her - it’s about you.”

 

Jinx folded his arms, “What we do together behind closed doors isn’t any of your concern, human. Da-ko-ta is perfectly happy to have me.”

 

“Her name is Dakota.” Matthew said immediately, “She’s my concern if you’re only using her for your own sick sexual satisfaction. That girl in there is an intelligent being that has wonderful potential, and meeting an Irken was one of her dreams. If I even get a hint that you’re just using this bright, beautiful girl—“

 

“I’m well aware how intelligent Dakota is, Matthew.” Jinx growled out, “I’m not doing anything that she doesn’t want me to do, and you’d be amazed at what she does to me.” He stopped there to make a point before continuing, “I’m not letting anything pull her away from me again, human, she’s mine. Not yours, not that other human’s, but mine.”

 

Matthew groaned, sliding a hand over his face, “That’s not what I mean, you fucking idiot!” He groaned, “Do you even fucking care about her? As in, with affection, with emotion? Do you know what caring is? Do you wake up to the thought of her more than something to have sex with? Do you enjoy having conversations with her to the point that you lose time? I’m speaking about actual affection, you fucking jackass. Something that pulls at your heart every time you look right at her, to the point that thinking a fucking alien is using her might just tear you apart.”

 

Jinx watched Matthew, his antennae twitching as he took in the other’s words. Affection wasn’t something Irkens used often, it was a foreign emotion that wasn’t worth exploring. All he knew was conquer and control, taking what was his and making sure nothing got in his way. However, by the way this human was reacting, it was clear that Matthew was a threat. Someone who posed as an enemy. He also wanted his human.

 

“You don’t get how this works, Matthew.” Jinx stepped forward, “I own Dakota. She belongs to me. I wont let anything happen to her, I refuse to have her hurt in any way. That means she’s well protected from any threat.” He narrowed his eyes at the man, “Especially you.”

 

Matthew grit his teeth, stepping back when Jinx stepped forward. It was like talking to a wall. Dib told him this would happen, explained to him that Irkens were vastly different than humans, but he didn’t listen. When Jinx began to step back into the room he reached out to grab the Irken’s arm.

 

“What if she didn’t have the tattoo, Jinx?” Matthew asked then. “Would you still have wanted her even if she wasn’t marked as property? Would you still protect her from threats?”

 

Jinx barred his teeth at the other man, growling until Matthew finally let go. “I would have marked her myself, human. She was mine ever since I found her.” He finally shoved himself into the room, shutting the door behind him.

 

Matthew scowled, flipping off the door with both fingers and turning away quickly, stopping at the sight of Dib. “Are you here to gloat?” He shouted.

 

“Not really.” Dib tried a small smile. “You left before I could show you something.” Dib pulled down his sleeve to expose his wrist.

 

Matthew stared down at the inside of his wrist, narrowing his eyes at Dib, “What—“

 

“This tattoo means more than you think it does, Matthew.” Dib explained, “Irkens may be emotionally stunted but you’d be amazed at their dedication to what they claim as their own. When I told you that Dakota was perfectly fine with Jinx I really meant it. Irkens are the most possessive fucking aliens I’ve ever encountered and it’s in that possession that you realize how safe you are.”

 

Matthew watched Dib roll the sleeve back down, utterly confused. “You mean you and Zim—“ He gestured with his hands.

 

Dib barked out a laugh, “Holy fuck no, Jesus Christ, I was fucking twelve when it happened. He believed that I was his to torment and bully, and he marked me as a warning to everyone else. I wasn’t a popular kid at school, I was constantly bullied by everyone who wasn’t my sister, and sometimes by my sister. Zim hated that. He thought it was an injustice to him that others were able to torment me.”

 

Matthew still looked confused, slowly making a connection, “He marked you so he could be the only one to hurt you?”

 

Dib shrugged lightly, “Pretty much. But imagine that, Matthew. When he marked me suddenly our dynamic shifted greatly, suddenly he was threatening everyone with their lives if they ever touched me wrong. That’s how it all began, our friendship. Our strange friendship. He kept everyone away from me up until he disappeared. It gotten to the point that the school thought we were a couple.”

 

Matthew snorted in amusement, “That kinda sounds like a strange relationship, Dib.”

 

“Zim wasn’t the type to explore that kind of shit.” Dib said honestly, “He had a fear of germs and he was too obsessed with pleasing his own leaders. What I’m trying to say is that, Dakota is perfectly safe with Jinx, and he will practically kill for her if he had to.”

 

Those revelations calmed him and creeped him out simultaneously, and Matthew let out a tired sigh. “I…don’t know how to feel about this, Dib.” He began to walk away from the door, “I still…love her…you know? I just want to make sure she’s safe.”

 

Dib followed him calmly, “I can’t say I understand, I never really had a relationship.” He sighed then, “Everything I was doing never warranted one. Either I was too much of a freak to be noticed, or I was too focused on my artwork to look.”

 

“My relationship with my wife isn’t coming back.” Matthew hated to say it, but it was true. “She’s done too much, and I can’t bring myself to forgive her. To actually…call those people and have her taken away—“

 

“You don’t know that’s what happened.” Dib commented worriedly.

 

“I know it was her, Dib. She knew how much Dakota means to me. She knew how I felt about experiments, she knew so much and she still had the gall to think it was justified.” He put his hands in his pockets, leaning his forehead against the nearest window and peering down at the Earth. “Meanwhile, I have Irken blood inside me and that makes me a liability if I stay on Earth. I have nowhere to go and nothing to be anymore.”

 

Dib watched him, frowning. He knew an existential crisis when he saw it. “Matthew…do you know how vast the universe is?”

 

The man didn’t move from his spot, glancing up to the stars above Earth, “How vast?”

 

“I mean…you could pretty much do just about anything out there, all you need is the right direction and the knowledge of what to do. It was one of my own fantasies, you know, explore the universe and become some sort of space badass.”

 

Matthew snorted, “My biggest fantasy was to be a crime lord.” He quirked a grin at that.

 

Dib chuckled, “Who says you can’t live out your fantasies? Just look. We’re practically being exiled from our own planet. My sister will probably kill us if we go back. My father’s almost the true ruler of this planet, everyone depends on his protection.”

 

Matthew suddenly barked out a laugh at the words, turning to lean on his back and sliding down onto the floor.

 

Dib rolled his eyes, “What I’m trying to say is that I’ve lived my life trying to protect this planet only to have my endeavors spat back in my face. Now I realize that I have literally nothing to return to if I decide to go back, and you, Matthew, has given me a reason to live again.”

 

Matthew’s laugh died out and he looked at Dib quizzically, “What are you talking about?”

 

“Your e-mail.” Dib pulled over a chair to sit in front of the other, “I wasn’t doing much of anything when you contacted me. I made that cartoon and just waited on my ass for someone to report it while working as an animator. Most of everyone who claimed to have saw an Irken were either crazy or just a hardcore fan of my work. You’re the only one who gave me videographic evidence. Your e-mail breathed new life into me, I suddenly felt like I had something to do again.”

 

“I did this.” Matthew clarified, gesturing to himself, “Me.”

 

“You practically pulled me into this crazy adventure, and now I think I can repay you on it.” He grinned at Matthew, “Let’s just leave, you, me, Dakota and Jinx. We can leave. We can find the resistance. Irkens aren’t popular anywhere outside of their own Empire, we could be useful. You’re a natural born fighter and I’m a computer programmer. Dakota is a scientist and Jinx was going to be a Tallest! We have a great team right here.”

 

“You’re starting to freak me out, Dib.” Matthew said uneasily. “What about Dakota? What is she going to say? I have fucking children to think about! I Can’t just up and abandon them. Jinx is a fucking fugitive!”

 

Dib wasn’t beaten down by Matthew’s reasoning, looking optimistic, “I could always patch you to your family when you need it. But if you’re not allowed to go back to Earth, then I think your decision was made for you.”

 

Matthew groaned and slammed his head against the glass. “Fuck.” He hissed out.

 

“Incoming transmission from Earth.”

 

Dib’s head perked up and he headed directly for the terminal, giving access to the signal and coming face to face with his sister. “Gaz?”

 

“Dib.” She sounded agitated.

 

“How did you know—“

 

“I have my ways, Dib.” She answered before he could ask, glancing over at the other faces, as Matthew stepped up behind Dib before Jinx and Dakota followed. “Good, everyone’s here.”

 

“Who is this?” Jinx glared up at the woman.

 

“It’s my sister. The one who kidnapped you.” Dib explained.

 

Dakota folded her arms, watching her wearily. “Why is she here?”

 

“To discuss the terms of our arrangement.” Gaz stated, “As I allowed you to actually leave the facility, it means that you owe me, Dib.” She smiled, something that wasn’t ever a good sign.

 

Dib was expecting that, unphazed by her eerie smile. “What do you want?”

 

“I’ve taken the opportunity to inform all of your employers that you won’t be returning to your jobs any time soon, first of all. As for the only one with family, I’ve contacted your wife and children, sent your well wishes and you won’t need to go back home.”

 

“WHAT?” Matthew was the fist to explode, “YOU MOTHER—“

 

Dib covered his mouth quickly, struggling to keep it closed. “You’re kicking us out of Earth, aren’t you?” He asked,

 

“I’ve discussed it with dad and he agrees that for the safety of our planet that all of you are best left out of Earth. We’re not fully prepared for an alien invasion and if we’re to deter the Irken ships from coming into our solar system, then the fugitive isn’t welcomed here anymore. As for the girl, she’s too unstable to control, and no one will actually miss her.”

 

Jinx held Dakota back when she lunged forward.

 

“I’m throwing out Mr. Drake just on the account that he’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode and go on a rampage, and I believe your daughters were excited that you went into space on a mission.”

 

Matthew bit Dib’s hand finally, snarling at Gaz before turning away sharply and storming off to destroy something.

 

Dib held in the cry of pain, holding his hand and glaring at his sister, “So when did you lose every drop of your humanity, Gaz? When dad hired you or when you were born?”

 

Gaz quirked a brow, “Excuse me? I’m the one with the humanity. I’m keeping Earth protected from hazardous beings while you were on a silly adventure living out your dream. I’m only being nice to you and allowing you to continue with your silly adventure.”

 

“What about Zim, Gaz? Why didn’t you tell me about Zim?” Dib cried out, “Why did dad kidnap him when he knew how much it would hurt me?”

 

Gaz stayed quiet for a moment, “Dad took Zim to protect the Earth and you, Dib. You were neglecting your education to go on weird adventures with a fucking alien, he was worried. He knew that if you and Zim were together any longer than you would either leave or turn against Earth. As for Zim, he didn’t want to take any more chances if the stupid idiot somehow did succeed with his plans. Everything he did was to protect you, Dib, whether you believe it or not. That’s why he refused to tell you that he aways believed in aliens.”

 

Dib choked back a shuddering sigh, staring up at her, “Dad has some kind of fucked up belief in what love looks like, you know.”

 

“Do you want him to send you a ship or do you want to die out there in your little space station?”

 

Dib opened his mouth but Dakota quickly ran over to shove Dib out of the way. “Please, can you do me a favor? Matthew’s truck is at Zim’s house, in the truck bed is everything I own and everything Dib has. I want both of our laptops. Please include a crate of liquor in with the ship, and I want some feminine hygiene products.”

 

“Do I look like Amazon to you?” Gaz shouted.

 

“If you don’t want me to go back on Earth and fucking raid the first Walmart I see, then fucking do me a favor!” Dakota’s voice rose just as loud.

 

Jinx quirked a grin and Dib blinked, bewildered.

 

Gaz kept her calm, considering the request. “I actually like you.” She said then, “Fine, we’ll make arrangements and send you what you need.”

 

“Actually—“ Jinx stepped over to the screen.

 

“What?” Gaz growled at him, “What could you possibly want?”

 

“Pineapples.” Jinx stated simply, “A lot of pineapples.”

 

Dakota’s back went straight and her cheeks darkened, staring over at the Irken incredulously.

 

Dib didn’t really know what to say, laughing nervously.

 

“Pineapples.” Gaz repeated, taking in how Dakota looked and making a simple connection. She snorted in amusement at the realization and cast the thought aside. “Once the ship arrives to your location, you will have 24 hours until this space station will be targeted by Government missiles. I want to take care of all loose ends if I need to.”

 

Dib nodded hesitantly, “Understood.”

 

“And Dib,” Gaz’s eyes cracked open, “I hope things go better for you out there then it did for you on Earth.”

 

Dib bit his lip at the admission, nodding once.

 

The transmission ended after that, the screen going back to black.

Chapter Text

Dib took a steady breath, unable to tell if he appreciated his sister’s explanation or if it was just some sort of bullshit. Nothing made sense anymore, his family was all kinds of fucked up and his feelings towards what they all have done to him, to Zim, to Dakota, to Matthew, it was a ranged reaction that had similar feelings towards it.

 

If his father had actually arranged a ship for him to take, then that was at least something, right? It was some kind of gesture on his part, a final apology to his son? Professor Membrane wasn’t a monster, he wouldn’t leave his own son to die in space, no matter what he thought of Dib.

 

The sound of glass shattering and metal crunching in the distance told Dib that Matthew was working out his aggression, and he stopped thinking just for a second to take off towards the noise. Matthew destroying anything worth taking was a bad thing, “Matthew!” He shouted once he found the other, in one of the labs. It looked like an enraged bull had gone through and destroyed everything in its path. Chemicals were dripping onto the floor and mixing together, some of them dripping through the floor after eating the metal it was on. “Jesus fucking Christ.” Dib followed the trail of destruction and found Matthew slamming his fists into something thick and electronic, his fists were riddled with cuts and bleeding but the man didn’t really care at the moment.

 

“MATTHEW!” Dib tried again, grabbing onto his arm and recoiling when the man turned and moved like he was going to slam Dib in the face, before Matthew stopped completely. The man was breathing heavily, staring wildly at Dib as if the younger man just done something to insult him.

 

“Leave me alone, Dib.” He hissed out, twisting his fist into the machine it was inside.

 

“I can’t afford to have you destroy anything else.” Dib shot back, glaring at him. “We’re being given a ship and 24 hours to leave this area before missiles come and blow this place up, and I want at least everything valuable from here on that ship.”

 

Matthew went quiet, stewing in his anger but removing his bloodied hand from the machine. It stung, but he was used to smaller amounts of pain so much that it felt like nothing at all.

 

“Matthew!” Dakota shoved past Jinx and the door to rush over to him, grabbing for his hands and glaring up at him, “One day you’re going to get an infection and lose a limb.” She lectured, turning towards Dib, “Where’s the medical supplies?”

 

Dib could see a dramatic change in how Matthew went from boiling in anger to a docile calm once Dakota joined his side, glancing over to the Irken at the door and seeing how he was glowering at Matthew. “Follow me.” Dib said to her, leading the two down a hallway and into a room, a pristine white room with medical beds and a collection of various smaller items.

 

Irken medical supplies weren’t like human medical supplies at all, as Dib unearthed a small glass tube containing blue gel. “This will disinfect the wounds and absorb the blood while clotting the cuts up. It’s an all-in-one healing agent for superficial wounds.”

 

Dakota took the tube and stared at the gel in interest, “I hope we have more than one of these.” She uncapped the tube to scoop the gel out, spreading it over Matthew’s hand curiously and watching as the blue hue of the gel slowly absorbed the blood, turning nearly purple.

 

“Huh.” Matthew smiled faintly, flexing his hand. “It feels like it has menthol inside of it or something.”

 

“Just coat both his hands with it and then wipe the rest of it clean with a cloth. Dib stepped away from the two of them after that, heading back to the door. Jinx had followed them, still watching the two of them with emblazoned jealously. Dib rolled his eyes at the sight and pulled Jinx away forcefully, “I need you to help me with something.”

 

Jinx scowled at him, “I’m not leaving my human with that.” He argued.

 

“He’s not going to do anything, Jinx, do you even realize that those two have a history? They’ve known each other for longer than you knew her.” Dib yanked him away from the door, narrowing his eyes at him.

 

Jinx allowed himself to be led away after some hesitation, listening to the human. “What do you want?”

 

The further away the two got from the medical room, the more Matthew relaxed, watching Dakota steadily. His eyes couldn’t leave the red mark on her neck, and he bit down a sudden urge to do something against that. He was biting down a lot of things lately, and all for her. He couldn’t explain it, how being right next to her made his blood rush like he was experiencing the best high without the drugs.

 

Dakota was still massaging the purple gel into his hands, focused on just that and smiling a little. He had come all this way to rescue her, infiltrating a facility and breaking through glass so he could reach her. Seeing him in that room she was in was like seeing hope. Matthew didn’t have to do it, any of it. He always came back to her, as if he owed his life to make sure she was safe. She wondered if Everett knew that he was so dedicated to her, and hoped that it didn’t ruin their relationship. She felt lucky to have him in her life.

 

“Is he treating you right?” Matthew suddenly asked, breaking the silence between them.

 

Dakota looked up curiously, into his tired blue eyes, “Jinx?” She looked back down and removed her purple fingers from his hands, “I’m safe, if that counts. Otherwise, between us it’s…complicated. He’s—he’s an alien, first and foremost. I have to remind myself that every time,” She smiled at him, “Humans and aliens are on different wavelengths, with different outlooks and different emotions, mindsets, backgrounds, just about anything. We seem to be getting along, however, if that counts for anything.”

 

Matthew listened to her, watching her mouth closely. He absentmindedly reached for a sheet of cloth to wipe his hands off, looking down at them for a moment. “I’m only wondering if he’s not planning just to use you or worse, Dakota.”

 

Dakota took a sheet of cloth for her own hands, shaking her head. “I think I can take care of myself—“

 

“I know that.” Matthew said suddenly, “You’re…a very headstrong girl, Dakota. You were able to take care of yourself back on those drugs, and you’re more capable of taking care of yourself now. I don’t mind what you do behind closed doors, but if he tries to harm you in any fucking way then I won’t feel bad for retaliating.”

 

Dakota blushed slightly, looking away from her hands and back to Matthew. “You’re so protective of me, I feel kind of worried when Abby and Tabby start to get boyfriends of their own and how you’re going to threaten those poor boys.”

 

Matthew crumpled up the cloth sheet and tossed it, looking back at Dakota. “You’re different than my daughters, Dakota. I don’t think of you that way.” He said it quietly, his eyes focused on hers.

 

She watched him steadily, her fingers trembling as they held onto the cloth, “Matthew…”

 

Matthew couldn’t hold it in anymore, reaching out to cradle her head before leaning in to kiss her gently, his own lips touching hers. Dakota’s breath seemed to be sucked away with his kiss, dropping the sheet to grasp onto his shirt. Warring thoughts entered her head, one to push him back and another to encourage the action, indecisiveness keeping her still as he kissed her with earnest. Dakota pressed back hesitantly, gasping when his reaction doubled and he held on desperately, kissing her more passionately than before until both of them needed to breathe.

 

When Matthew finally broke the kiss they were both flushed, Matthew’s eyes were blown out in a daze, staring at Dakota as she stared back with her own fixated awe. The woman didn’t know what to do at the moment, opening her mouth to speak before shutting it again, a dozen thoughts flying over her head before one image took over. Jinx, his deep crimson eyes in burning anger as he gutted Matthew for what he had just done. Dakota flinched then, when Matthew’s hand touched her neck, and she stepped back quickly, her eyes expressing abject horror at the revelation of what could happen if the Irken knew.

 

“Dakota—“ Matthew tried, watching her step back in pure fear before racing out of the room entirely. He didn’t understand why she did that when she returned his gesture. He touched his lips, still feeling the warmth of hers lingering before he dropped his hand, letting out a tired sigh. He wondered if this action, his honest display of love, had arrived far too late. All the roads that he had taken to get to Dakota were now blocked by something eight feet tall with blazing red eyes.

 

He couldn’t really love her if her heart was captured by an alien.

 


 

 

The atmosphere following what had happened kept Dakota and Matthew in an awkward silence when they were together, though so far Jinx had no idea what had transpired between them, going about the job that Dib set out for him while Dib proceeded to do a sweep of the main control room. Matthew was encouraged to get some rest and Dakota cleaned out the medical room.

 

“I should have asked for clothes.” She said to Dib once she came out with a crate full of medical supplies. “This lab coat is all I have.”

 

Dib looked at her and Zim’s tiny lab coat, not having taken notice of her state of dress ever since they rescued them. “Follow me.” He motioned her to join him as he led her down another hallway and into a smaller room. “If you don’t really mind wearing Zim’s old clothes, there’s enough here for a whole suit.” He opened up a closet door, which contained smaller drawers. “One day in sixth grade we traded outfits just for the fun of it, and I learned that Irken clothes stretch to fit. He never told me about the fabric his clothes consisted of, like it was some kind of alien secret he wanted to keep from me.” He pulled out one of the pants and tossed it to her. They looked smaller than what she could fit in, and Dakota eyed them wearily.

 

“I won’t be able to wear this.” She told him skeptically.

 

Dib grinned, “You will, just try them on.” He turned away then to give her some privacy, waiting patiently.

 

Dakota still wasn’t convinced, stretching them out at first and realizing that they were expanding with her. She carefully balanced on one leg to pull one over her own, watching as the fabric manipulated itself to her size without looking overly stretched out. She repeated the action with the other leg, pulling it over herself with a look of bewilderment in her eyes. They didn’t feel like a vice either, just snug like leggings would feel. “Motherfucker, Irkens would make millions in this fashion industry alone.”

 

Dib laughed at that, pulling out one of the red tunics and tossing that one to her as well. “Imagine how I felt when they fit on me, and I had a growth spurt at the time. Zim’s—was—a…” Dib trailed off, breathing out a sigh, “He was small…”

 

Dakota pursed her lips as she watched Dib try not to cry again, reaching over to hug him tight. “You two were very close, even if you both were enemies for a while.” She said softly. Dib had to remember that she knew Zim as well from his own cartoon, nodding against her and crying silently.

 

She consoled him for as long as she needed to, both of them ending up on the floor against the row of closet doors with his head in her lap. He looked utterly miserable and embarrassed, having broke down so badly when he was supposed to be the strong one in their small group. Dakota didn’t say anything about it, humming something her mother used to sing while petting his hair back, running her fingers curiously through the scythe-like lock of hair and wondering about the physics of that one lock.

 

“I shouldn’t be like this.” Dib murmured.

 

“Don’t be ashamed for your emotions.” Dakota said softly, “It’s perfectly okay to cry and let go, Everett taught me that.” She frowned a little, “Everett taught me a lot of things…and we’re about to leave her.”

 

Dib bristled at the woman’s name, biting his lip. Didn’t Matthew tell her about Everett yet? She was the reason Dakota had gone through all of this. Before he could say anything Dib held his tongue, knowing for sure that if he said anything that Matthew would punch him or worse. It wasn’t his secret to tell.

 

“I need to get back.” Dib raised himself from Dakota’s lap, looking over at her and fixing her a small look of gratitude. “I’ve broken down in front of everybody now.”

 

Dakota pursed her lips together before looking away, nodding. “I think when everything’s over and done with we all deserve a full day’s worth of sleep.”

 

Dib couldn’t help but laugh a little, getting up to his feet. “Take everything you need from this room.” He said to her before leaving.

 

Dakota slowly got to her own feet, looking at the collection of tiny clothes and taking a red tunic into her hands. Instantly she thought about Jinx, and how he would probably destroy everything she wore when his arousal peaked. Even so, she couldn’t go about life wearing next to nothing.

 

Dakota suddenly wished for a dress.

 


 

The ship arrived a full 48 hours after the initial transmission, a large metallic cruiser that nearly looked like a cargo ship. Dib expected it to be marked with his father’s company or at least the logo, but it looked like the logo had been stripped away, leaving a faint outline.

 

When the door opened at the loading dock, everyone went still at the sight of Dib’s sister. Jinx’s antennae twitched irritably at the sight of the woman while Dakota took a hold of Matthew’s arm. Dib didn’t say anything, staring at his sister evenly and not showing any emotion.

 

“Why are you here?” He questioned.

 

“Believe it or not, Dib, it’s because I care.” She said calmly.

 

“Yeah, care enough to fuck with my family—“

 

“Matthew, load the ship.” Dib interrupted the man loudly, glaring back at him with a warning in his eyes.

 

Dakota pushed Matthew away, shaking her head. “Now’s not the time.” She whispered.

 

Gaz didn’t look affected by Matthew’s outburst, stepping further away from the loading dock. “Dad wanted me to thank you for doing this.” She said honestly.

 

Dib followed her, “What do you mean? Thank me for leaving?”

 

“Thank you for getting involved with them.” She gestured to the other three, “If you weren’t involved in this entire thing, then your friends would have ended up in captivity and experimented on. Allowing them to leave like this is our way of doing the right thing without harming anyone.”

 

“Anymore than you already have.” Dib quipped sarcastically.

 

“Hey, I’m not going to apologize for dad.” Gaz glared at him, “Yes, he’s done some pretty despicable things by your standards but everything was for the greater good of the planet.”

 

Dib glared at her, “How is tearing apart Zim and breaking him completely for the greater good?”

 

Gaz went quiet at that, her eye twitching slightly. “He arrived on Earth to destroy it, do you remember? How can you defend someone who was literally the enemy? He tried to kill you!”

 

“He might have been here for the wrong reasons but he was still—“ Dib’s voice rose before he stopped entirely, taking a steady breath. There was no use fighting about it, Gaz and Dib never agreed on anything concerning their father. He let the argument go, just because it wouldn’t bring Zim back no matter how much he tried to defend him.

 

“Dib!” Dakota’s voice broke him out of his thoughts, watching the woman head over to them with a hanger and clothes in her hands. She stared at Gaz for a moment, shaking the garments. “You didn’t have to—“

 

“What?” Dib looked at the clothes, “She got you clothes?”

 

“These aren’t new clothes, they’re from my old apartment.” Dakota corrected him, still staring at Gaz. “You went all the way to New Haven and took my clothes. It’s not just me, either. There’s a closet full of your clothes and Matthew’s clothes—and a photo album from Everett…My books, your computers, Matthew’s punching bag—”

 

Dib stared at Dakota incredulously before switch his attention towards Gaz, the woman looking extra uncomfortable for being caught doing something considerate. “You dropped by our homes?”

 

“Just so you know that I’m not a heartless bitch, Dib.” Gaz said with an irritated edge to her voice, glaring over at Dakota, “You can stop staring at me now.”

 

Dakota quickly grinned at her and finally turned away, laughing as she headed back into the ship. She quickly ran into hers and Jinx’s room that contained her personal effects, putting down the clothes to rummage through the closet and pull out a dress. Across the hallway from her room was Matthew and Dib’s joined room, Matthew sitting on his small bed and staring at the photos in the album containing pictures of his children, tears stinging the corners of his eyes.

 

Jinx was inside the storage part of the ship, putting away everything they collected from the space station, his eyes running across a crate marked ‘tampons’ and another crate marked ‘whiskey’. His gaze settled on a door across from him, and he made his way over. The metal was cold at his touch and he opened it, walking into a freezing room that contained bags of food, though his attention quickly left the rations and towards a large box that contained something spiky with green spines jutting from their tops. It was the weirdest looking thing he’s ever seen. Jinx picked one up and turned it in his hand.

 

He took the offending object with him as he left the colder room, heading out of the storage area and down the short hall into his and Dakota’s room, catching her in a white sundress testing out the durability of the bed. “What’s this?” He presented the spiked object to her, watching her face flush at the sight of it before a laugh erupted from her person.

 

“That’s a pineapple.” Dakota laughed pleasantly, standing up and reaching out for it, “You see, cut this open and the fruit is inside, it’s really good.”

 

Jinx let her take the fruit before focusing on the bed in front of them. He reached out to shut the door to their room before fluidly grabbing Dakota up by the waist, lifting her up off her feet and throwing her back onto the bed. Dakota yelped when he did and laughed, the pineapple falling from her grasp as Jinx followed after her, his hands dipping under the dress to explore what lied beneath it. “I don’t see why you need clothing, female.” He said lowly as he felt her own heat, how she wasn’t wearing anything else. “There’s no need for any of it when you’re here.” He growled against her neck while slipping two fingers inside of her, grinning as she let out a wanton sigh.

 

Dakota could feel him licking her skin, her body shivering delightfully against him, “I can’t just expose myself at all times…” She whispered against him while arching into his touch, “Learn to fuck me with my clothes on, Jinx.” She reached out to grasp his own robes, pulling him closer.

 

Jinx purred in response and kissed her fully, allowing his tongue to explore her mouth while he fingered her, flicking his thumb over her sensitive clit and enjoying her excited whimpers. Even without full control over this female, he could still make her bend to his will with a few strokes. “You still owe me your mouth, Da-ko-ta.” He said teasingly, massaging her slowly.

 

She began to pant and sigh, reaching up to caress his face before dipping down to kiss and suck at his neck. “Make me cum first and I’ll swallow everything you give me.” She said against his neck, gasping out when his ministrations became quicker. She bit down on his neck and sucked it as hard as she could, wanting to mark him herself.

 

Dakota heard something just then, a whirring of gears before seeing something slip past the corner of her eyes, hearing Jinx chuckle from behind before she could see it fully, a slew of metal appendages that looked ominous and menacing. Two branched off and wrapped around her legs tight, forcing them further apart and practically pulling her further down, making her yelp. Dakota’s eyes went wide, feeling Jinx shift against her until she was face to face with his own arousal, her brain coming to the quick conclusion of what he was doing.

 

“So a funny thing happened while you were in the medical wing.” Jinx positioned Dakota so she was on her knees before him. “That Dib human re-activated my pack extensions, and I was just so thrilled.” He pet her hair, gripping it tightly and raising her head towards his pulsing phallus. “I would have surprised you sooner but I could smell him on you when you came out.”

 

Something touched Dakota’s clit, a cold metal that sent her a small jolt of electricity that had her breath catching in the back of her throat, while another appendage that was just as cold, slick with something even colder, buried itself into her wet hole, vibrating ever so slightly as it slowly pumped into her. “J-Jinx—“

 

“I believe you need to realize just who you belong to, and if I’m not allowed to murder that human that poses a threat to me, then you need to be trained. Now, open that lovely mouth of yours and put it to good use.”

 

Dakota gasped again as the appendage against her clit shocked her again, opening up wide enough to allow his girth into her mouth. A shudder wracked through her body as she sucked and licked his phallus, wanting to find something entirely wrong with this scenario. She couldn’t, only realizing that being punished for kissing Matthew was becoming something she wanted to do again. If Jinx did this every time she went to him, then she wanted to know how far it would go.

 

Jinx purred, guiding her head against his slick girth, “Now here’s the fun part.” He said lowly, “You’re not allowed to cum until I do, and if you do, then there’s a penalty.”

 

The appendage inside of her began to get stronger in its vibrations, making her groan around his tentacle as her eyes fell half-lidded. She strained to keep herself upright, whimpering as she swallowed around him and enjoyed how good he tasted. Dakota’s hands held onto either side of his hips, pressing herself as far as she could go and bobbing her head against him. She lost concentration when her clit experienced another shock, crying out around his phallus as her hips tried to react against it. He was doing his best to send her over the edge first, feeling the fat appendage inside of her thrust even harder. She doubled her efforts to suck him off, using her tongue to flick over the tip of his tentacle and sucking even harder, groaning when she felt his hips thrust against her face and practically devouring every inch of him.

 

Jinx underestimated this game completely, groaning and holding onto his human as she sucked him like he was the last thing she’d ever eat, doing her best to coax him into releasing into her mouth while his own appendages were driving her closer to the edge. Another shock made her squeal and take closer attention to the tip, the woman taking his shuddering reactions to be a good sign. Jinx hissed out, doubling his own efforts as his own appendage started fucking her as hard as possible, making her cry even harder against him. He was losing control, gripping her hair tight and hissing out when he finally felt himself cum into her throat, feeling her swallow him greedily as one last electric shock to her clit made her orgasm, her walls tightening around the appendage within her before it finally slipped out, dripping with her own juices.

 

They were both left panting over the intensity of their own releases. Jinx’s appendages unwrapped themselves from her person and retracted into where they came from while Dakota finally slumped over the bed like a weak foal. He joined her, gathering his human into his arms and holding her against him.

 

Dakota’s body was in a blissful buzzing sensation and she didn’t want to escape the feeling, sighing against her Irken and moving her hand lazily to trace something along his chest. “It makes me actually want to go out and make you jealous.” She mused aloud.

 

Jinx chuckled breathlessly, “I’ll just have to remind you who you belong to.”

 

She thought back to the times she argued against that topic, screaming to him that she didn’t belong to anyone. She wouldn’t admit it to him now, how that idea now just sounded so…tempting.

 

If she had to belong to anyone, then she’d rather it be him.

 


 

When Dakota and Jinx finally resurfaced, Matthew was already in the co-pilot’s seat going through the controls with Dib.

 

“Okay I get it, accelerate, reverse, forward.” He pointed to three different controls. “Brakes, autopilot, and…hyper drive?” He questioned the last with a higher octave, looking at Dib for an answer.

 

“You catch on quick.” Dib told him with a grin, “I’m sure when someone else returns he might be able to learn the controls.” He turned to look pointedly at Jinx. “Did you two have fun?

 

Dakota went red immediately, narrowing her eyes at Dib, “Yes.” She said defiantly, straightening herself.

 

“Very much so.” Jinx added, stepping over to both of them. “Where’s the other human?”

 

“Gaz went back through the teleporter.” Dib said distractedly, “Our countdown has begun and I expect to be gone long before this place explodes.”

 

“Where are we going to go, exactly?” Jinx questioned, “Irken forces are on my trail and I highly doubt you have any intergalactic contacts at your disposal.”

 

Dib managed a smile in Jinx’s direction, “Actually, I have one, I just haven’t used it.”

 

“One.” The Irken repeated.

 

Dakota watched Dib for a moment, recognition crossing her features at the same time Matthew realized who he meant.

 

“Prisoner 777!” They both exclaimed.

 

Dib nodded, grinning. “Yeah, I got his number from Zim’s database, and I never released it through the cartoon, but I’ve corresponded with him at least twice since discovering him. He’s been a great help, and when I actually tell him that Zim isn’t alive anymore, he’s sure to thank me somehow.”

 

“Why would he thank you for Zim’s death?” Matthew questioned.

 

Dib avoided everyone’s eyes, “Zim…well…held his children…hostage…for…some time but that’s not really important anymore, I have a feeling he has ties to the Resisty and that’s my end game. We need to get in contact with them.”

 

Jinx’s eye twitched, “You want to…contact the Resisty.” The thought was disgusting, to actually associate with the traitors to the Empire, nevermind the fact that he was being hunted down by the Empire itself.

 

“Will the Resisty even accept us?” Dakota asked then, “We have nothing to offer, we’re just nomads at this point.”

 

“We have something to offer.” Dib reassured her, “Dakota, you’re a Meekrob hybrid, you’re the last of their species. You’re a threat to the Empire itself. Matthew is a soldier and will be useful no matter what he does, and Jinx is—“

 

“I’m not assisting the Resisty.” Jinx interrupted him.

 

Dib narrowed his eyes at him, “You’re being hunted down by your own kind and you’re still loyal to them?”

 

“I’m being hunted down by the Empire because I assassinated Red and Purple, not because I have traitorous views about the Empire itself!” The Irken shouted, “Assisting the Resisty will be worse than killing a couple of Tallests. I have my pride!”

 

“You have nothing right now, Jinx!” Dib cried out, “The Resisty will protect you from being killed by your own kind! The Empire wants your head on a pike! What about that is so hard to understand? I’m not changing my plans just because you have this fucked up sense of morality about your own people.” Dib stepped away in anger.

 

“I hate to say this,” Matthew stood up slowly, “But as a soldier, becoming a turncoat is worse than anything. I kinda get where this asshole’s coming from.”

 

Everyone went quiet at Matthew’s words, and Jinx glowered at the human, “Oh, you would agree with me.” He spat.

 

“Jinx.” Dakota grabbed the Irken’s arm, “Can we talk?”

 

Jinx sent his glower towards Dakota, wincing when she squeezed his arm a little too tight. Dakota pulled him away right then and there, leading him back to their joined room.

 

When the door shut Dib looked over at Matthew, silently asking for an explanation.

 

“What?” Matthew’s voice cracked.

 

Jinx made sure the door was shut and locked before turning to his human, looking at her steady glare as she calmly sat on the bed. “I take it this isn’t about another round.”

 

“What do you think is going to happen when the Empire captures us?” Dakota questioned bluntly. “Do you assume they’re just going to take you and let us go?”

 

“That’s assuming if they are going to capture us.” Jinx shot back, “I’m not about to hand myself over to them.”

 

“Yes, but…” She took a breath, “Imagine the scenario, Jinx, because it’s a highly probable one. They’re going to capture us and board the ship. First thing they’re going to do is kill Matthew because he’s going to fight back.”

 

“No downside there.” Jinx smirked.

 

Dakota narrowed her eyes, “Second thing they’re going to do is either kill Dib or capture him, depending on how he reacts. The third thing they’re going to do is capture you and me. Now, after that, they’re going to take us back to the Massive and put you in front of the Control Brains. They’re going to delete you right then and there. Now what do you think is going to happen next?”

 

Jinx slowly sat down next to her, “You’re going to be taken by the nearest Irken that wants you.”

 

“Exactly.” She stressed, “Say what you want about your Empire but they’re the enemy right now. You told me yourself you wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me, Jinx. You promised to protect me, and if you deny the Resisty, then you deny that protection for all of us.” She reached over and slipped her fingers between his, “Now isn’t the time to think about your loyalties, as you erased them the minute you killed Red and Purple. You were the enemy of the Empire when you decided that.”

 

Jinx looked down at their joined hands, thinking about what she said. He had to admit that she was smart enough to know how everything would turn out, and he had no doubt that it wouldn’t turn out differently than that. He would be deleted and Dakota would be sold off to the highest bidder, Dib and Matthew would most likely be killed as well. He didn’t like admitting that he was wrong, but right now he couldn’t afford to be conceited about it. He mulled over everything, his views, his values, his situation. He had done something that he couldn’t come back from, and running away forever wasn’t going to make it any better for him or his human.

 

When Jinx left the room Dakota was behind him, and the Irken slowly stopped at the sight of a Vortian on the screen, peering at Dib before Jinx had entered, realizing who the Irken was as his tiny red eyes grew bigger.

 

“When did you come across The Betrayer?” Prisoner 777 asked, “That Irken is on the ranks of Domino.”

 

“Domino?” Dib looked at the Vortian curiously, “Who’s Domino.”

 

Prisoner 777 grinned, “Domino is—“

 

“The Renegade Tallest.” Jinx answered for the Vortian, walking over to him and Matthew. “The third in line to become Tallest along with Red and Purple only to escape Irk because of his traitorous Anti-Empire beliefs. He became a powerful force for the Resisty and is said to have a 10 trillion money price on his head.”

 

Prisoner 777 nodded in agreement, “Domino is the Resisty’s primary financial backer, some say he’s the real leader of the Resisty and not Lard Nar. If you want any form of assistance it would be him that you go to.”

 

Dakota stopped at Matthew’s chair, putting her hands on his shoulders, “Where would we find Domino?” She asked.

 

“Planet Retristè, the planet of debauchery and sin.”

Chapter Text

“So where is Retristè, anyway?” Dakota asked the Vortian on the screen. “How far do we have to go?”

 

Prisoner 777 seemed to smile widely at the question, “Oh, I can give you the exact coordinates to Retristè, however, I want you to do something for me if you wish to get there.”

 

“You’re blackmailing us.” Jinx grit his teeth, “You fucking little Vortian worm--”

 

“What would you like us to do?” Dib asked over Jinx’s words.

 

Matthew glared at Dib, “I hate to actually agree with this Irken asshole but withholding information for a favor is a fucking dick move.”

 

Prisoner 777 wasn’t angry in the slightest, because he knew he had all the cards at the moment. He waited patiently as the aliens bickered with each other, the lanky human trying to reason with the broader one while the female was trying to placate the Betrayer. Finally, the lanky one had enough, screaming.

 

“SHUT UP AND LET HIM SPEAK!” Dib shouted, glaring at both Matthew and Jinx.

 

“No matter what we need this information.” Dib continued, “I highly doubt it will be anything beyond our capabilities.”

 

“Thank you.” Prisoner 777 said gratefully, “All I’m requesting from you is a simple favor. I want you to retrieve my children from the place where Zim kept them, take them with you to Retristè. I have family on that planet, someone who will take them in.”

 

Jinx snorted indignantly, “One would think you’d want to be released from your prison.”

 

“I welcome all four of you to come to Vort and attempt to free me, though I doubt you’ll get far. I’m being realistic with my demands.”

 

“How is rescuing your smeets realistic?” Jinx hissed out, “The only one who knew where they were was Zim!”

 

Matthew was oddly quiet now, and Dakota noticed it as well, the way he was mulling over the Prisoner’s words, she instantly knew why he was so quiet. He was thinking about his own children, how if Abby and Tabby were in trouble, he would...

 

“We’re doing it.” Dib and Matthew said at the same time, Dib’s eyes widening at the sound of Matthew’s echo. “Matthew?”

 

“I have children, Dib.” Matthew said sourly. “I understand where this guy’s coming from. His stipulation makes sense now.”

 

“Well that’s fine and fucking dandy for you two--” Jinx bit out harshly, “--but we have no fucking clue where those smeets are!”

 

“Yes we do!” Dib said quickly, turning to Jinx. “We have the Irken AI that was leftover in Zim’s space station, that AI knows everything pertaining to Zim and everything he has done. All I need to do is to save the AI onto some external hard drives so we can bring it onto the ship, uploading the AI here will take more time than we have before Gaz blows it all up.”

 

“How long will it take?” Dakota questioned, “Do you need any help?”

 

Dib cast his eyes over to Jinx. “The only one who can help me is Jinx, since it’s Irken technology I’m dealing with.” He smiled at the taller Irken. “So, care to help us?”

 

Jinx’s antennae were flattened in his irritation, looking from Dib back to 777. He stepped forward then, reaching for the console. “We’ll call you when we catch them.” He growled out, cutting the transmission.

 

Dakota smiled widely, getting up to join them.

 

Getting the mainframe of the space station wasn’t hard when there were three people working on it, Dib allowed Dakota to assist them despite not knowing her way around Irken tech. She was still good with computers, as Matthew told him many days ago, and they successfully transferred the Irken AI into Dib’s external hard drives with at least two hours to spare. They had decided to leave right after that, not wanting to play with time any longer than they had to.

 

While they had been doing that, Matthew had been wallowing in his own thoughts. He missed home, he missed his children. He wasn’t surprised that he didn’t miss his wife. He knew it was over between them, and he’d never forgive her for what she had done. Dakota, however, was honestly worried about her, not knowing what Everett had done to her for eight years, and what she had done to lock her up in a facility.

 

He knew he was going to have to tell Dakota the truth someday, and possibly soon.

 

Matthew sighed, standing up and moving to take a bigger look at his room he shared with Dib, mostly Dib’s side, and the alien-themed items that were sitting around. He snorted in amusement at the trinkets, the blue color theme to the entire side of the room. It screamed Dib.

 

Though, on Dib’s bed were two different cases, one larger than the other, looking almost like a metal coffin. Matthew put his hand on the top of the larger one, feeling how the metal was ice cold. A strange feeling churned in his gut, and Matthew left the room.

 

“Dib? I think your bitch of a sister left you something!”


 

 

Just to remind you that I’m not a heartless monster. I thought I’d give him to you instead of my scientists throwing him into the incinerator or worse. This case contains his body, the second contains his pack. Give him a proper burial, Dib.

Gaz  

 

The note was taped to the larger metal case. Inside of it was a cryogenic pod that contained Zim’s body, the glass covered in frost. The smaller case contained Zim’s pack, looking pristine and untouched, as if it was treated with the utmost care.

Dib had Zim moved into the cargo room, practically kicking everyone out so he could take his time in saying goodbye to his friend. Their ship was nearly towards Mars, a perfect resting ground for his former rival.

 

While Dib was mourning in private Jinx was busy installing the Irken AI onto the ship, using the external hard drives that Dib taught him to use.

 

Matthew was at the driver’s seat, keeping his eyes focused on the display as the screen next to him ran through program after program. The two of them kept a mutual silence, neither one wishing to speak to the other.

 

“There’s fucking coffee in the kitchens!” Dakota’s voice broke the silence as the woman arrived from the elevator, holding a mug that had Membrane’s logo emblazoned on it. “They gave us the good stuff, too!” She headed over to the both of them, holding the hot mug close to herself and inhaling the fresh coffee scent. She offered the cup over to Matthew teasingly, watching him stare at the cup with temptation.

 

“There is a God.” Matthew said under his breath, reaching for it before stopping. “If I take that now I won’t be able to get any sleep later, and I’m about to fall apart.”

 

“I thought you got sleep.” Dakota frowned, sipping on her coffee before Jinx snaked his own hand to grasp the cup and bring it over to his mouth to taste it. The Irken’s face screwed up in disgust before letting go.

 

“You humans and your disgusting foodstuffs.” He looked at the coffee as if it offended his taste buds.

 

Dakota only smirked at Jinx as if she knew how he’d react, “More for us then.”

 

Matthew glanced at Jinx before sighing, turning back towards the display. “Dib told me to get sleep but I never really did sleep. I did my fucking best to at least try .” He looked irritated at that. “Too much going on.”

 

Dakota hummed in response and took another sip, sighing out. “If you want, I can get some whiskey out of the cargo room.”

 

Matthew looked at her as if she was magical, “There’s whiskey ?”

 

She smiled, “I asked Gaz for a crate of liquor and she gave us a bunch of whiskey, I thought you’d like some if we were leaving Earth.”

 

Dakota yelped when Matthew suddenly shot up from the seat and abandoned his post, heading towards the elevator until he was out of sight completely. She watched him leave, laughing a little and moving to sit in Matthew’s place, looking over the controls and trying to remember Dib’s instructions before pressing the button for autopilot.

 

Jinx snorted in amusement. “I never seen that human walk so fast.”

 

Dakota smiled knowingly, “I know how to move him.” She said proudly.

 

The Irken watched her steadily, forming a small grin, “Remember that thing we talked about?” He asked then, quirking an antennae, “Our little game …”

 

The woman took a thoughtful drink of her coffee, turning the chair to face him as she crossed her legs, “…I remember, but I don’t feel comfortable using him just to get you off. I have a conscience, you know.”

 

“You were keen on the idea when I brought it up, female.” Jinx smirked at her.

 

“I was on an orgasm high, don’t take what I say at that time seriously.” She snapped, narrowing her eyes slightly.

 

Jinx glanced away to pay attention to the program on his tablet, inputting something. “You’re making me want to experiment .” He said vaguely, glancing back at her.

 

Dakota didn’t know how she felt about that, ignoring the tinging between her legs at the possibilities and saying nothing more. The fact that Jinx was becoming less hostile towards Matthew was supposed to be a good thing, but she had a lingering feeling that Jinx was planning something, as he always did.

 

Matthew re-appeared from the elevator with a bottle of Jack, grinning from ear to ear and humming something pleasant. The bottle’s seal was snapped and a good amount was already gone.

 

Dakota smiled at how relaxed Matthew looked at the moment, giggling a little against the hot mug in her hands and watching him walk back over to them, even smiling at Jinx as if he had forgotten just who the Irken was.

 

Jinx narrowed his eyes towards the bottle, holding out his hand expectantly.

 

Dakota snorted just slightly, grinning up at Matthew. “Give him a taste.” She said teasingly.

 

Matthew didn’t want to look away from Dakota, not right now. That dress she had on was exposing her lovely pale skin, skin he wanted to reach down and… He swallowed down that thought and handed the bottle wordlessly to Jinx. He had forgotten about his libido when he drank, doing his best to stop looking at Dakota like she was a sweet dessert.

 

Jinx kept his eyes trained on Matthew, taking in how the human was looking at his female as he took a sip of the whiskey. It was like liquid fire that trickled down his throat and proceeded to warm his squeedily-spooch, all the while making him cringe at how it tasted. He wondered if the taste wasn’t the thing that mattered, but the lingering delight and warmth that came with it. From the looks of Matthew as he took back the bottle, the human was well accustomed to the drink.

 

“Acceptable.” Jinx confirmed verbally as Matthew tipped his bottle to pour a little in Dakota’s coffee. He narrowed his eyes at the gesture, watching Dakota take a heavy sip of her drink.

 

“Nothing like some Irish coffee in the morning.” Matthew grinned heartily as Dakota smiled.

 

“I don’t think it’s morning, Matthew.” She answered him merrily.

 

“Time is an illusion, out in space .” He sing-songed in return, turning around and laughing.

 

Dakota wheeled around to shove him with an extended leg, “Go to sleep, you drunk.” She laughed.

 

Matthew saluted her and proceeded to head back to his room, shutting the door in his wake.

 

Jinx slowly got to his feet after ending one of the programs on his tablet, looking from the screen back to the smaller one in his hands. “The Exile’s AI has been successfully connected to this ship.”

 

Just as he said that the elevator doors opened, Dib appeared from them looking like he had cried again. He looked at Jinx and Dakota, glancing over at the door to his room and realizing that Matthew was probably asleep. He thought about it as well, stepping over to open the door,

 

GET THE FUCK OUT!

 

“JESUS CHRIST!” Dib shrieked as Matthew snarled, shutting the door quickly before a shoe was thrown at his head. Dib leaned against the door with wide-eyes, realizing that he just witnessed Matthew…

 

Dib made his way over to Dakota and Jinx, ignoring their bewildered stares and sitting down.

 

Dakota leaned towards him, “What did you see?”

 

Prince Albert. ” Dib breathed out.

 

Jinx quirked an antennae, “What’s a Prince Albert?”

 

Dakota went red and narrowed her eyes at Jinx, refusing to say anything.



He watched her from afar with focused eyes, blue eyes, narrowed and keeping track of every movement she made. He kept himself hidden away in the shadows as she moved about the laboratory, checking samples to experiments while humming a tune. Her hair was gathered into a tight bun, stray locks of her jet black hair framing her exquisite face, playful green eyes cast downward onto whatever that sat on the petri dish before her. Her skin was pale, peach in contrast with the extra long white lab coat over the dress she wore. The symbol of her devotion was visible on the back of her neck, the symbol of his people, his home.

 

The Irken waited patiently for the woman to make her move, gathering up her samples and crossing the laboratory to place them in the refrigerator. When she shut the door something creaked, her eyes wandering over towards the storage room door, unable to see beyond the shadows. She took a hesitant step forward, then two, her hand reaching towards the doorknob while she entered the room curiously.

 

She flipped on the switch to scan the room, frowning as she heard and saw nothing at all. She shrugged lightly with her shoulders and turned, moving to leave before something grabbed a hold of her wrist, pulling her back into the room. She cried out as she was pulled forward, her mouth covered quickly by a green hand with intricate tattoos on the knuckles. She stilled when she felt a slick, wet tongue run up the back of her neck, whimpering against the hand and doing her best not to fight against the intruder. Her lack of struggle was met with an appreciative growl near her ear, the blue-eyed alien’s free hand running along the front of her body, feeling each and every angle and curve, and how hot her flesh felt underneath his touch. His arms were decorated in heavy black tattoos.

 

He dipped his head down to lick her neck again, feeling her body shiver in response. The hand over her mouth moved, and two fingers slipped through her lips. “Suck.” He ordered in a low growl, grinning as the woman obeyed his order and began sucking on his fingers. The intruder walked her over to the lone table in the center of the storage room, bucking his hips against her as he reached down to grasp her ass firmly. “Up.” He ordered again, and the woman raised her leg up onto the table, stretching a little to settle it while her hands pressed against the sturdy top. She made a strangled whimper when the intruder’s free hand traced along the inside of her thigh and found her wet heat, dipping his fingers inside of her greedily. He slowly fingered her, grinning when she sucked his fingers in renewed vigor as if she wanted more than that.

 

“Stay quiet.” He whispered against her neck, slipping his fingers out of her mouth as a sharp appendage extended from the pack behind him, running along her back delicately while the razor tip cut through her clothing cleanly. When he willed it to return the garments fell away, pooling around her nude body and allowing him to rip them away and toss them elsewhere. He stared at her appreciatively, slipping his fingers out from the warmth they were exploring to help her other leg up onto the table until she was kneeling on all fours above him. The woman kept quiet, holding onto the edge of the table as the intruder traced along what was exposed to her, running his thumb curiously over her exposed clit and hearing a quick intake of breath that followed. He flicked it again lazily, as if in thought, another whirr breaking the silence as another appendage extended and moved into his hand. He looked at it quizzically, as if assessing the tool before pressing it against her clit. When he activated it the small tool began to buzz, causing the woman to gasp out as her hips jolted from the sensation. He turned it off and grinned, slipping his free fingers back into her tight heat and slowly thrusting into her. Again he turned the tool back on, lightly touching her sensitive area and hearing her breathy moan as she attempted to press back against it.

 

“Beg me.” He demanded, holding the buzzing tool away from her clit.

 

The woman opened her mouth, and shut it again, shutting her eyes as he explored the inside of her, “Please.” She whispered.

 

The intruder shook his head, “More than that, you know better.” He mused.

 

“I want to feel it.” She tried again, “It feels so good, please put it back.”

 

He considered her request and moved the tool back against its place, pressing it against her for more than a second and listening to her whimper again as her body shuddered from the sensations. “More.” He demanded. “What do you want?”

 

“I want to cum.” She groaned, rocking her hips against his tool. “I want to feel you inside me, I want you to fuck me hard, I want—oh—ohh—I want—“

 

The intruder teased the tool away and then pressed it back against her clit, twisting it against her sensitive bud. “You know what to say.” He murmured, curling his fingers inside of her.

 

She whimpered again, letting out a long sigh, “I want you to conquer me.” She breathed out in a needy whine.

 

That was all he wanted to hear, and suddenly the tool fell from his hand, retracting back into the pack it came from. He removed his fingers swiftly and pulled her until only one knee was on the table, spreading her leg further apart and squeezing her pert little ass. His tentacle-like phallus was already waiting, dripping along her opening as he pushed himself into her. He groaned as his phallus filled her up, his hands resting on her hips before thrusting himself forward. “How much do you want this?” He questioned then, pulling her back against him in one fluid thrust.

 

“This is all I want.” She cried out between moans, gasping again as he continued to pull her against him. “I’ve always wanted this, you inside me, claiming my body. Please…oh—“

 

He ground his hips against her, growling out in appreciation, “Are you going to want anyone else after me?”

 

The woman leaned against the table, panting out in pure bliss, “No, I won’t, you’re what I want, I won’t go anywhere else—“ She continued to whimper and moan as he fucked her with abandon, feeling the pressure mounting into a beautiful release. She cried out when she was driven over the edge, her own tight walls milking him of his own seed as he came inside of her. She was breathing heavily as he slipped out of her, feeling the pleasant buzz of her orgasm. He pulled her further down, collecting her into his arms as he laid her out under the table, kneeling over her. His large blue eyes focused on her beautiful green before he dipped down again and kissed her slowly and teasingly, growling again.

 

“Who really owns you?” He asked then, dipping down to bite a mark into her neck.

 

“You do…” She breathed, tilting her head for him.

 

“Say my name.” He murmured against the skin.

 

“Matthew.”

 

Dakota awoke to guttural screaming, almost falling off the bed as Jinx jolted out from under her. She knew instantly who was screaming, shoving Jinx aside to get out of her room first.

 

“EEEAAAGGHHHH!” Matthew practically burst his way from the door, nearly knocking into Dib as he tried to run his back into the wall at a blinding force.

 

“Matthew!” Dib cried out, his eyes widening suddenly at the sight. Matthew, shirtless Matthew, was bleeding from his back while something was attached to his upper back.

 

“GET IT OFF ME!” He snarled, trying to reach behind himself to rip the object off of him.

 

“Oh God.” Dib’s voice broke when he realized just what it was. “Matthew! Stop—“

 

“What the fuck is going on?” Jinx hissed out, coming to a stop at the sight of the magenta lit pack attacked to Matthew’s back. “What—“

 

“Motherfucking Christ!” Dib cursed again. “Matthew don’t panic!”

 

“DON’T PANIC?” The man obviously looked like he was experiencing the worst pain in his life, glaring daggers at Dib, “I was fucking SLEEPING and suddenly SOMETHING IS BURROWING INTO ME!”

 

Dib winced, “Panicking isn’t going to save you, okay? Don’t worry, it happened to me—“

 

“What do you mean? This thing just attaches itself to ANYONE?” The man wasn’t calm in the slightest.

 

“I THOUGHT IT WAS DEACTIVATED!” Dib cried out, “I didn’t think it was going to—“

 

“You mother fucker!” Matthew advanced onto Dib, attempting to strangle him.

 

“STOP!” Dakota weaved herself between both of them, holding her arms out as a barrier. “Matthew, just calm down!” She shouted sternly, glaring at him before glaring at Dib, “Try to explain what’s going on.”

 

Dib took a shaky breath, scratching his head. “One day in grade school Torque Smackey threw a ball at Zim’s back very hard, and his pack was taken off. At the time I thought it would be good to take it home with me for research, try to find out what it was. Well, soon after I found it the pack came to life…and attached to my chest.”

 

Matthew’s eye twitched, but Dakota was keeping him from advancing.

 

“When an Irken pack attaches itself to a new host, in my experience, it slowly takes over and tries to turn you into its last host, and I was slowly turning into Zim.” Dib looked away anxiously, “Irkens can’t survive without them after ten minutes, and I got it off at the last second and Zim survived—and told me that I would have died because a human’s body chemistry is too different.”

 

Jinx pursed his lips, grabbing onto Matthew’s arm before the man tried to lunge forward.

 

“GET IT OFF OF ME!” Matthew cried out, seething in anger, “Ten fucking minutes? That’s all I got?”

 

“Matthew!” Dakota pushed back, crying out when Matthew suddenly embraced her, burying his head in the crook of her neck.

 

“I don’t want to die!” He choked out.

 

“You’re not going to die!” She insisted, looking behind Matthew and up at Jinx. “Please tell me you can do something!” She cried.

 

Jinx made an aggravated groan and pulled Matthew back, “Come on.” He said finally.

 

Matthew didn’t let go of Dakota, using her as a security blanket. The woman sighed, laying a comforting hand on his chest, “Follow him.” She whispered.

 

Dib took one last look at the computer console, “Computer, put the ship on auto-pilot.” He called out.

 

“Putting the ship on auto-pilot, sir.” The familiar voice answered overhead.

 

Matthew walked with Dakota, hugging her from behind. “It hurts.” He said weakly.

 

Dakota frowned, “You’ll be okay, Matthew.” She continued to whisper.

 

It was amazing how Matthew went from five-alarm angry to super-docile when Dakota was around. Dib followed after the three and into the medical room. Matthew sat on the side of a bed, bringing Dakota up with her. That was something else that was amazing in Dib’s eyes. Jinx wasn’t hostile towards Matthew anymore, as if he was…learning to accept their bond. Dib stayed near the door, however, just in case. “What can we do to get it off of him?”

 

Jinx fixed a glare in Dib’s direction, “Nothing.”

 

“What do you mean, nothing?” Dakota cried out.

 

Jinx proceeded to pull down a body scanner, “Matthew, come here.” He waited until the man got up before scanning his body, watching Matthew’s skeletal image form in the center of the room. A three dimensional hologram of Matthew’s internal body. “Take a look at the human’s spinal cavity.” He pointed to the pack on his back and the metal appendages that were fusing with Matthew’s spine. “Dib-human, your first mistake was bringing a dead Irken’s pack on board of the ship.” He said loudly.

 

Dib looked offended, “I didn’t bring it on, Gaz left it!”

 

Jinx clicked his tongue, “Why didn’t you get rid of it ?”

 

“I was planning on hooking it up to the computer and extracting information—“

 

“You’re an idiot!” Jinx shouted, stepping through the hologram. “Irken packs are nearly sentient! They can sense when its host has died! When its host dies they lie in wait for a new host to attach themselves to! Their memories of the last host are wiped away and reformatted for the new one!” He narrowed his eyes, pointing at Matthew. “The fool was asleep when this happened, that meant the pack sensed a prime opportunity and decided to make him its host!”

 

Matthew paled, turning his ire over to Dib, “You left me alone in a room with A PARASITE?”

 

“I DIDN’T DO IT ON PURPOSE!” Dib hollered, jumping back when the man suddenly lunged at him.

 

“Matthew!” Dakota moved quickly to grab his arm, trying to pull him back. “Dib didn’t know! Stop it!”

 

Matthew snarled at Dib before Dakota shoved herself between the two of them again, smacking the man in the face right away. The action seemed to snap Matthew out of it and he changed, looking like a kicked puppy because of what Dakota did to him.

 

“You smacked me.” He choked out.

 

“You’re out of control.” Dakota said evenly, “Be a good boy and sit back down, Matthew.”

 

Jinx waited for the man to sit down before stepping over to the other side of the bed and leaning over to peek at the pack, “I will have to run a diagnostic on the pack if it’s firmly attached to your spinal cavity. Irkens have the ability to remove their own packs to break into the hardware, but we can also just plug it into the computer to scan the software. Because the human already has Irken blood, the chance of dying from the pack attachment is minimal.”

 

Dakota breathed a sigh of relief, looking over at Dib to smile reassuringly at him.

 

Matthew didn’t look so reassured, slouched over with his arms folded. “Great, so I’m stuck with this thing forever?”

 

“I will refrain from giving you false hopes, human. Once a pack attaches to a new host after the death of the old one, it will become an actual part of you.”

 

Dib trembled, watching Matthew stare at him listlessly. He glanced away awkwardly and managed a quick grin, “I’m going to check on the ship!” He said loudly, escaping as quickly as possible.

 

Dakota watched Dib leave as fast as he possibly could, moving to run her hand through Matthew’s hair, “He didn’t know, okay?” She said softly.

 

Jinx snorted in amusement, “Keeping a pack for research is the stupidest—“

 

Dakota stopped Jinx with a glare, “Dib didn’t know any of this was going to happen.” She said loudly, “He’s not to blame for any of this.”

 

“I know who’s to blame for this.” Matthew said irritably, glaring at the door, “It’s his goddamn sister who left it here in the first place.”

 

“There’s nothing you can do.” The Irken said in finality, studying the holographic scan. “You should feel honored, actually. You’ll be the first known human to accept a pack without dying a horrible death.”

 

The throbbing pain in Matthew’s back told him differently, and the man rolled his eyes at this whole situation. Thanks to the Membrane family, he’s lost his life, his home, his wife, his children, and now his humanity. The only thing that he hadn’t lost was sitting next to him, consoling him with kind strokes to his head. His eyes wandered over to Dakota, taking in her hair, how undone it was from the bun it was in and how it looked messy like right out of…

 

A twinge of jealousy pulsed through his mind, something that he managed to bite down so many times, but for some reason he couldn’t seem to fight his intrusive thoughts anymore. He swallowed thickly, leaning slightly into her caring strokes and enjoying the light touches for now.

 

Jinx turned the hologram off and paid close attention to Matthew, his eyes on the pack as he thought. Humans weren’t made to handle packs. They weren’t strong enough in mind or in body to handle them. While Matthew was stronger than a normal human because of his Irken blood, the mind was still that of a normal human being. Complex feelings that humans possessed weren’t made to be handled and could easily be corrupted and warped to fit an Irken’s mind. Things such as kindness, fear, sadness, pity, guilt, love, ethics, forgiveness, they could all be stripped from Matthew in given time. Irkens were known for only a few emotions; wrath, pride, lust, greed, gluttony, jealousy. it wasn’t a wide array, but that’s what they were made with.

 

He was curious about what that pack would do to alter the human’s mind, and just how it would be twisted to better match Irken physiology. More importantly, Matthew’s love for dear, sweet Dakota.

 

That love could downright turn into an obsession.

 

“Uh—guys?” Dib’s voice was suddenly overhead, effectively catching everyone’s attention. “There’s a few ships heading our way.”

 

“We don’t have time to fuck around.” Jinx hissed out, making his way out of the medical room. Matthew was quick to follow and Dakota was the last to leave the medical room, breathing out a sigh as she tried to keep pace.

 

Jinx moved fluidly into the second seat, running his fingers along the controls. “Computer, identify the oncoming ships.” He commanded.

 

“Sir, the oncoming ships are identified as Irken Hunter Jets.” The computer announced, causing Jinx to curse under his breath.

 

“Irken Hunter Jets are tied to the Massive, they’re strictly bounty hunters.” He explained to Dib, glaring at the screen and looking along the array of planets.

 

“What are Irken Bounty Hunters doing in this part of the universe?” Matthew cried out brokenly, “I thought it took six months to get from Irk to the Solar System!”

 

“Not unless they left from the Massive.” Dib suggested, “That thing would be anywhere…”

 

“This is what Gaz was talking about.” Dakota said quietly, “The transmissions she described, the Irkens that were on their way to Earth.”

 

“Well, it’s not a good time to panic, because they’re already here.”

 

Chapter Text

“What do we do?” Dib asked Jinx, trying to remain calm. No one encountered Irken Bounty Hunters before, and Jinx was the best bet in surviving this sudden threat.

 

Jinx was calm, considering the circumstances. “Nothing drastic yet, they probably think we’re just a normal cargo ship. If you just act normal then they won’t think you’re harboring a fugitive.”

 

“Except for the fact that we are harboring a fugitive.” Matthew spoke up, glaring at him.

 

“This fugitive is our only way to Retristè!” Dib tried to reason with Matthew, which was getting harder and harder every time.

 

“We wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for him !”

 

“He’s also the reason that I’m not under heavy drugs.” Dakota was trying her best to defend the Irken, but Matthew could only continue to bicker and complain.

 

“JUST REMAIN CALM!” Jinx snarled, “I have a plan.” He managed to quiet the control room and gather their attention, “I trust Dakota to make sure all of you go through what I’m about to have you do. YOU--” He pointed at Matthew, “Act normal, as normal as you can fucking get right now. You and the other one are just leaving Earth, all three of you decided to go on this one big fucking trip to Foodcourtia to deliver some goods, that being the alcohol and the pineapples.”

 

“Foodcourtia?” Dakota was confused immediately, “What is--”

 

“It’s a fast food planet run by the Empire.” Dib said before Jinx could open is mouth. “It’s extremely popular with aliens all over the place. I can see where Jinx is going with this. We’re just three travellers from Earth.”

 

“Incoming transmission.”

 

Jinx went stiff immediately, “Pretend I was never here!” He said quickly before bolting towards the elevator.

 

“Wait, where are you going?” Dakota got up but quickly sat down when the doors shut, looking worried. The alert was still ringing and Dib reached over to answer the transmission call.

 

Matthew visibly stiffened, glaring at the Irken that appeared on screen. A blue-eyed Irken looked at all three of them suspiciously, “We request permission to board, failure to respond will give us the right to treat you as a hostile ship.”

 

“Aren’t you going to give us a reason why?” Dib asked in a hard tone, not having any trouble dealing with an armed Irken soldier.

 

The Irken watched Dib carefully, “We’re tracking down a convict that we’ve tracked to the Milky Way Galaxy, we wish to perform a sweep of your ship.”

 

Matthew’s glare didn’t let up, “We’re just a fucking cargo ship.”

 

“Failure to cooperate with our demands won’t go well for any of you.” The Irken smirked, “If you’re harboring the criminal, then all of you will be imprisoned under Empire Law.”

 

Dakota felt her anxiety attempt to climb back into her body, her heart beating quicker than normal while her hands tried to shake. She reflexively got up to take Matthew’s hand, needing someone familiar and stable. Matthew curled an arm around Dakota protectively while Dib finally agreed to the demands of the Irken Hunter, putting the ship to a full stop.

 

Matthew could feel Dakota shaking, “Nothing’s going to happen.” He whispered into her hair.

 

“If they find him, we’re all going to die, or something worse.” She whimpered.

 

Matthew held her tighter, “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”

 

The Irken Hunter Jet that contacted him was the one to dock with Dib’s ship while the second ship was settled on the other side as a backup. The Irken who manned the ship wasn’t alone, coming aboard with a purple-eyed Irken. They weren’t as tall as Jinx, but they weren’t as short as Zim, either. Though, despite their size, Dib knew they weren’t to be messed with. Matthew caught Dib’s warning glare and swallowed thickly.

 

They were slightly outnumbered. 

 

The two Irkens eyed Matthew and Dib, finally resting their eyes upon Dakota. The woman wasn’t calm in the slightest, the anxiety making her tremble ever so slightly. Matthew could only keep a secure hold on her while the purple-eyed Hunter went about to search the first floor of the ship.

 

The blue-eyed Irken kept an eye on the three of them, narrowing his eyes especially at Matthew. “What is a human doing with a pack?” Came the question.

 

“Disguise chip malfunction.” Said Dib quickly before anyone else could answer. It would be stupid to explain that Matthew was a human with Irken blood, and it would attract unneeded attention. “He’s a friend.” The man ended with a slight smile.

 

The Irken eyed Matthew wearily, “If that’s the case, then I’m going to have to scan your pack.”

 

Matthew tensed up, glaring further at the Irken but feeling Dakota’s hand squeezing his consolingly. It was her touch alone that kept him quiet and still. “Fine.” He bit out, holding Dakota tighter to his person.

 

Dib was slightly worried. Jinx had described it well, that the pack would reformat to mirror the mind of its host so that would mean that it would identify as Matthew, right? Zim wasn’t an Irken that was particularly popular with his own race, and he wouldn’t be so sure of their reaction if the scan came back as his fallen friend. He watched as the Irken pulled a contraption that looked almost like a game controller from his own pack and opened up Matthew’s main compartment to hook the two of them up.

 

The Irken was expecting to discover that it was the Betrayer, that possibly he was trying to hide under a stupid ruse as a disgused human, but the longer he scanned the more he came out with an Irken identity that wasn’t anywhere near their wanted Irken. He could see how tense the man was, and by extension, the female that was quietly watching, having turned in the other’s arms to watch curiously. He and the female met each other’s eyes and the Irken flashed her a grin, managing to make the female avert her eyes quickly.

 

“You check out.” The Irken finally said, disconnecting from Matthew’s pack and returning his controller device. He snaked around the two, eyeing the female again and taking in her state of dress. “Quite a lovely creature you have there. Is the female a prize of conquest or is she…”

 

Matthew seemed to snap his head over at the Irken Hunter, growling low in his throat. “She’s my mate .” He said in a tone that dared the other to try and challenge it. The response seemed to shock the two that were with him; Dib looking bewildered by the sudden primal outburst while Dakota had jumped slightly in her own shock. She knew it was to protect her, thankfully, and she pulled on a coy smile and decided to play along, shifting in Matthew’s arms to hook her own arms around his neck.

 

“We’re very close.” She leaned her head against the man’s chest, noting how fast his heart was beating. The Irken seemed to stare, and that was when Dakota remembered that tattoo that was on the back of her neck, which was exposed to everyone from how her hair was styled. Her cheeks burned from how intently the Irken was staring, the Hunter slowly grinning widely at the telltale sign.

 

“Marking your property, I see.” He chuckled amusedly, “Alright, I won’t dare to challenge that.”

 

Dib blinked, watching the exchange. It was surreal to see the Irken tattoo in action. On Earth, with him, it was meaningless to everyone else but Zim. Out here, among others… it held a precedence.

 

Matthew reached up to Dakota’s hair to undo it from the bun it was in, letting the tendrils cascade over the back of her neck and blocking the tattoo from the Irken’s view. “As long as you know what’s mine .”

 

Dakota glanced up at him, blinking. Was he playing a part or was this part of the pack integrating with his brain? Either way it still sent a shiver down her spine from how domineering the statement sound, with an added silent threat to the Irken who eyed her appreciatively. Instead of thinking too hard about it, she turned towards the Irken Hunter, a question bubbling up within her that she needed to ease in without him knowing that she knew. “Why are you searching for a fugitive?” She asked curiously, “What did they do?”

 

The blue-eyed Irken thought about her question, and from the look of the Irken in front of him, the man didn’t know anything either. “I guess you must know,” He said to Matthew before addressing him and his female. “We’re looking for a traitor to the Empire, an Irken that assassinated our previous Tallests. We’re on a universal hunt for the Betrayer, mostly because his height is a threat to our current Tallest.”

 

Dib knew just where Dakota was trying to go, stepping closer to Matthew. “Ask him who the Tallest is.” Dib said under his breath towards the other. Matthew perked his head up, hearing Dib.

 

“So, who’s the Tallest now?” Matthew spoke up, and he suddenly realized how much smaller this Irken was compared to himself. He remembered quickly. Height meant everything to this race, and now he was one of the few Tallers.

 

The Irken seemed to sigh, “We’re still trying to figure that out. There hasn’t been an Irken that rivalled the height of the past Tallests ever since Red and Purple took control, except for the Renegade Tallest and the Betrayer. No one wants to use Anti-Empire trash and villainous murderers with bounties on their heads. So far…the only one who seems to come close is…” The Irken’s eyes roamed over Matthew’s person. “You.”

 

Dib and Dakota’s breath hitched and Matthew looked utterly stunned for a split second before breaking out into a fierce laugh. “Me? A fucking Tallest ? That’s rich, that’s the funniest shit I ever heard.” He was honestly amused, almost in stitches over the statement.

 

Dakota tried to laugh along, almost completely worried about what the Irken Hunter had told them. “If Irk has no Tallest then how is everything getting done?” She asked suddenly, stopping Matthew’s cackles.

 

“We have a substitute figurehead.” The Irken replied blandly, “The Control Brains rather we have someone stable, someone at least...taller.” The Irken sounded distracted now, seemingly in thought as he continued to stare at Matthew. “Excuse me.” He turned sharply to return to his ship, and the three humans were left staring at each other dumbfounded.

 

“I don’t have a good feeling.” Dakota whispered, looking over at Dib. “I really don’t have a good feeling.”

 

Dib tried to stay optimistic, smiling reassuringly at Dakota and Matthew. “They’re only here for you-know-who, they wouldn’t--”

 

The elevator door opened suddenly, and the purple-eyed Irken came out, looking unamused. “Everything has been checked, the ship is clear. There’s no sign of the fugitive.”

 

Relief flooded Dakota’s body and she finally relaxed, leaning against Matthew tiredly. He only grinned and pet her head, “I told you…”

 

“I know.” She murmured.

 

The Irken regarded the two of them with little to no interest as he passed them, heading towards the door. Once he got there the blue-eyed Irken got back out from his end. “Xer?”

 

The Irken looked overjoyed and delighted. “The control brains gave us a new directive, Lema. We’re to bring in the Irken we just found, he’s the height they’ve been looking for!”

 

Everyone tensed up while Lema glanced at the humans, becoming confused. “What Irken?”

 

Xer snapped his fingers towards Matthew. “That one with the broken disguise chip.”

 

The relief that flooded into Dakota was suddenly draining away, and panic was starting to rise up. “You--you can’t take him!” She cried out, “He’s with us!”

 

“Direct orders from the Control Brain are final, female.” Xer unholstered his gun just as Matthew quickly shoved Dakota into Dib’s arms.

 

“Keep her away, Dib.” Matthew snarled, looking ready to beat someone up. “I won’t be going anywhere with you two!” He shouted.

 

“I was really hoping this would be peaceful.” Xer and Lema spread out and readied themselves. “You’re to come with us, hostility will not be tolerated!”

 

Matthew grinned darkly, “Come at me, you fucking overgrown lima beans.”

 

Dib managed to yank Dakota away before Matthew lashed out at the two of them, fighting the only way he knew how, rough and dirty while the two Irkens, trained in the Armada, did their best to fight him off. “Matthew!” Dakota cried out, trying to lunge forward, but Dib pulled her back roughly.

 

“You’ll get yourself killed!” He hissed.

 

Lema reached up for the communicator hooked to his collar. “Backup, we need backup NOW!” He screeched before Matthew managed to slam his fist into the other’s stomach.

 

Dib and Dakota became frozen, hearing the scraping metal from outside the ship and feeling the entire thing sway to the side. The man managed to keep Dakota from tumbling away, her footing slipping as she grasped onto Dib reflexively. She knew she could stop this. All she had to do was use her own abilities. “Let me go Dib, I can fight them.” She pleaded.

 

“You don’t even know how to use them yet!” Dib said loudly, “You could easily get Matthew hurt along with them--”

 

Two more Irkens finally clamored into the ship where the other ship was docked, and everything was a blur of noise and colors, Dakota hearing Matthew’s screams as the Irken Hunters took out devices that sent out binds that wrapped around the man before emitting a strong amount of electricity. “MATTHEW!” She screamed, finally breaking away from Dib.

 

“Dakota!”

 

Matthew had dropped to his knees, overpowered by the electrical pulses flaring through his body and shuddering in pain that felt like it went on forever until he began to hear a woman’s scream. The electrical pulses stopped immediately, and Matthew realized that Dakota was grasping him tight from behind. “Dakota!”

 

The woman was in pain, turning her head up towards the Irkens to stare at them pleadingly. “Just--we’ll do anything. Please, just stop!” She begged.

 

“Dakota you don’t know what you’re doing!” Dib shouted.

 

She glanced back at Dib, “I’m not letting them hurt Matthew!” She cried out.

 

Matthew felt a surge of emotion rise up from his gut. She was defending him , but she was also sacrificing herself… He looked wearily at the four Irken Hunters, armed with their lasso devices and their guns. He breathed in and realized that they were very outnumbered. He might of been able to overpower Jinx, an unarmed Irken, but these were four Irkens who possessed more than just their fighting skill.

 

Xer’s eyes went alight with an idea and he moved to grasp Dakota’s arm, wrenching her away from Matthew and holding his gun to her head. “If you want your property unharmed, then you’re going to come with us.” He smirked down at the man, noting that his face was contorted in fear.

 

“Dakota!” Matthew cried, “Don’t hurt her!” He tried to stand, struggling with the task until he managed to kneel and force himself on his feet. “I’ll fucking go, but you’re not going to fucking harm her!”

 

Xer grinned at the compliance, shoving Dakota over to a magenta-eyed Irken with lashes. “Take her too, she’s his property , after all.”

 

Dib could only watch in horror as the two of his friends were being captured and taken right before him. He knew he couldn’t take on all four of them, with Dakota being targeted and Jinx in hiding. Matthew was cuffed immediately and neither he could managed to get out of those binds. He had no way to save them.

 

Unless…

 

“Matthew isn’t an Irken!” Dib cried out suddenly after they pulled Dakota into the other ship. “You can’t take him as a Tallest! Matthew is a human! From Earth!”

 

Xer heard Dib clearly, shaking his head as his crew took Matthew. “Not according to his pack. Sorry, but you’re down two shipmates. You’re free to go now, sorry for the trouble.” He smiled then, a sarcastic smile that mocked him.

 

Dib’s legs gave out when the door finally shut behind the Irken, the man swallowing a dry lump in his throat.

 

Jinx was going to fucking murder him.

 

Dib suddenly remembered, Jinx was in hiding. He had no fucking clue what was happening. Dib struggled to his feet and began to search for the Irken on foot, checking every room and calling his name. It was only in the lower level in the hallway towards the cargo hold that he heard a loud pounding noise, and Dib cried out suddenly when a metal door from above unhinged from the ceiling and clattered to the floor. “Jinx?” He backed up to stare into the mess of wiring, seeing Jinx tangled up among the wires, looking utterly frustrated and angry.

 

“Get me the fuck out of here.”

 

Dib nodded dumbly, looking in the closets for a ladder and bringing one over to the hallway, climbing up to help Jinx get free. It took some time, but when Jinx was finally free he took a dive into the hallway, knocking Dib over and sending him colliding into the Irken.

 

“That’s the last time I ever hide in the ceiling vents.” He scowled, collecting himself. “Now where’s my female? I’d assume she’d be the first one to look for me.”

 

Dib felt anxious, getting up so he could put distance between himself and the Irken. “Well, you see, a funny thing happened…”

 

The way Dib said it was unnerving, and Jinx paused, narrowing his eyes at Dib. “What happened?” He growled. “Dakota!” He then shouted, proceeding to storm past him and back towards the control room. “Da-ko-ta!”

 

Dib hurried after him. “She’s not here!” He cried out, bracing for impact. “Neither is Matthew. They were both taken.”

 

Jinx went completely still, running everything Dib had said through his head until it finally sank in. “WHAT?” He twisted around to face Dib, glaring at him dangerously and slowly advancing. “What did that piece of shit do?” He growled. “I should have known to keep Dakota away from that conniving human and his fucking--”

 

“Matthew didn’t take her!” Dib cried out, coming to a stop once the wall hit his back. “It was the Irken Hunters. Dakota suddenly asked about the current Tallest and they said they were having trouble--and then I guess they communicated with the Control Brains and suddenly Matthew’s being taken in because he’s the only one that fits the height requirement!” He was breathing heavily now, having not taken a breath as he kept talking. Jinx was only a foot away from him now, snarling.

 

“You didn’t try to stop them?” His voice was dangerously low.

 

“They took Dakota!” He cried out before dropping his voice back into a whine. “They put a gun to her head. Neither of us could do anything!”

 

Jinx went quiet at that, stepping back before crying out and lashing out at the wall. “FUCK!” He screamed. “That is what I get for not teaching her how to use her powers!” He kicked the wall after ripping it with his claws. “This is the worst fucking thing that can happen!” Jinx turned to stalk back to the control room.

 

Dib felt his heart jump into this throat, staring at the torn up wall and realizing that could have been him. He yelped, running after Jinx. “What’s going to happen to them?” He asked.

 

“Matthew’s a human with Irken blood.” Jinx told him sharply, “They’re either going to keep him and reprogram his pack or use him as an experiment. Given his height, he could become one of them. If they figure out that Dakota’s a Meekrob Hybrid than she’s going to be used as an experiment as well, and since she’s the last of her species, then there’s a high chance that it’s going to be a breeding experiment.”

 

Dib looked horrified, “Oh my god. But--they can’t--!” He thought quickly, “They spotted her tattoo and Matthew said she was his!”

 

That seemed to enrage Jinx and he seethed, “I knew I should have killed him when I got the chance! His presence in my life seems to make everything worse!” He took a breath and tried to steady himself. “But...good...if they think she belongs to him...she’ll be less likely to wind up as an experiment… Irken Law states that an Irken’s property is not to be messed with, or the consequences will be lethal.”

 

Dib shook slightly, “No wonder that Irken didn’t…”

 

Jinx looked his way. “Didn’t what ?”

 

Dib swallowed thickly, “He was looking at Dakota like she was lunch, until Matthew told him who she belonged to, and then he backed off.” His legs felt weak so he fell back into the chair, groaning. “What are we going to do?”

 

Jinx cracked his knuckles, “We’re going after them. Computer, locate the Irken Hunter Jets.”

 

“Locating… sir, the Irken Hunter Jets have left the Milky Way Galaxy.”

 

“WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?” Dib cried out.

 

“It means that they implemented hyper drive.” Jinx hissed dangerously. “If we go after them now then we’re liable to face even more Empire soldiers. They’ll be halfway through the universe.”

 

“We can’t…” Dib breathed, “We’re just two people. You’re wanted dead and I’m me .” He raked his fingers through his hair, “We can’t go fight everyone to bring them back.”

 

The two of them went silent, contemplating their options for a while until Dib went up to run his fingers across the console. “Computer, locate the whereabouts of Prisoner 777’s children.”

 

“Processing!”

 

“Why are we going after those smeets now?” Jinx asked in a low voice. “There’s more important things to--”

 

“We’re going to need them if we need to find Retristè.” Dib explained. “When we find that then we find Domino, and with him comes the Resisty. We can’t do this alone, Jinx. We’re going to need help.”

 

Jinx thought about it for a while, realizing that Dib had a point. It would be completely foolish and crazy to go after them by themselves. If the Resisty were to assist them, then they would have a fighting chance. He made a fist, clenching it. Dakota was on the way to Irk, in the presence of Matthew…

 

Dib watched him, knowing what exactly Jinx was thinking about. “I wouldn’t worry about Dakota.” He said softly.

 

Jinx looked at him wearily, “Why not?”

 

The man smiled slightly, “Matthew would kill for Dakota, they're not going to touch her as long as he’s there.”

 

The thought placated Jinx, but only slightly.

 

It wasn't them he was worried about.

Chapter Text

The holding cell was meant to contain something a lot stronger and more dangerous than either of them. Dakota learned quickly that she couldn’t shatter the glass no matter what she did. Unbreakable space glass, she surmised, finally sitting back. The cell was in the back of the Irken Hunter Jet while the control room was in sight. Xer and Lema were too busy with controlling the ship to pay attention to them.

 

Dakota frowned, looking over at Matthew’s sleeping form. They had cuffed him, and something in those cuffs was enough to make him drowsy enough to sleep. The cuffs weren’t the only things keeping him bound, either. The electromagnetic ropes were taut against his entire body. No one wanted to take the chance in allowing him any bit of movement. According to Lema, Matthew was more dangerous than any other Irken they had come across, more aggressive. That seemed to energize both of the Irkens, and it worried her.

 

But to take him as a candidate for being a Tallest? That was still something she couldn’t wrap her head around. Yes, Matthew was tall, he was around six feet and seven inches. But was he tall enough to be a Tallest? Jinx was almost eight feet tall, and the Tallests before that were at least taller. There couldn’t be anyone closer to that, could there? No, if there was someone closer to that height, then Matthew would have been left alone. Neither of them would be here.

 

There wasn’t a way to get out of this, was there? Dakota and Matthew weren’t able to do much of anything as long as they were surrounded by Irkens. Not even Matthew could take on the whole Armada. He couldn’t even take on four Bounty Hunters. He made his aggression so easy back on Earth. He was able to take care of other people so quick and effortlessly, but now he wasn’t on Earth anymore, neither of them were.

 

Were they going to Irk or the Massive? The Control Brains were on the Massive, so possibly there. Between that and Irk, the Massive was the shortest journey, but then there was Conventia. The Great Measuring must take place on Conventia, right? All the mass events of the Empire took place there.

 

Dakota sighed, sitting closer to Matthew’s body and leaning against it. They had to stick together if they were to find Jinx and Dib again. She just hoped that the two of them weren’t going to try and storm the Massive, that was just a death sentence. Jinx was all about action, he didn’t like to sit idly by and wait for an opportunity to pass. Ever since he crashed on Earth he had been working on a way to take control of the planet - up until they were caught. Meanwhile, Dib was a man of logic and patience. He had a good head on his shoulders and he preferred to think before acting. The two of them working together sounded strained, and she hoped they could get along.

 

Dakota’s contemplation was interrupted when someone was tapping on the glass. She looked up, seeing Xer watching her intently, holding a small baggie in his hand. “I realized that humans need to eat.” He said to her, “We don’t have much, but there’s enough for both you and him.” He gestured to the sleeping man next to her.

 

Dakota blinked, “--you know he’s human?” She slowly got to her feet. “If you know he’s human then why did you take us?”

 

“The Control Brains ordered it.” He replied simply. “I saw everything inside the human’s pack. He’s a...hybrid of sorts. A human body with Irken genetics, and normally a pack would kill a host without any of that. The fact that your mate is still alive with that thing on him means he’s at least one of us.”

 

Dakota frowned, “I assumed the Irken race didn’t like hybrids or anything mutated. You’re all hatched from pods, anything different is a defect.”

 

The Irken grinned at her words, “For a mere human you know a little bit of our race. Why is that?”

 

She bit her lip and grabbed for her arm, looking away quickly. “I know my fare share about your race because I know a human that has dealt with Zim.”

 

“The Exile.” Xer gasped, his eyes wide in amazement. “Is the Exile still alive? We assumed he was dead.”

 

Dakota thought about it, shaking her head. “Well, he disappeared, but it turns out that...he was captured by the wrong people and experimented on, and it ended in his death.” She glanced back at Matthew’s pack, opting to keep that information to herself. “The human that knew Zim had done his research on your species, and he created an informational video of sorts, though no one really believed him.”

 

Xer snorted in amusement, “Zim was never one to keep his mouth shut.” He said lowly, “I knew him when we were in the Armada. I don’t really know how he was able to get exchanged from being a scientist to a soldier, but there he was, alongside me and many others, Red and Purple included.”

 

Dakota watched him, the words registering into her head, “Zim was a scientist?”

 

“Oh, yeah. Insanely smart, but at the same time he was too...he wasn’t stupid at that time, he was more overzealous than not. That’s how two of our former Tallests were killed, because he unleashed something horrible that ate both of them.”

 

That was the premise of one of the canceled episodes, she realized suddenly. She remembered the script, but it had never reached television. She nodded in understanding, backing up as a piece of the glass opened up so Xer could dangle the baggie inside the cell. Dakota took it quickly, feeling the rough paper between her fingers.

 

“Normally, when a primitive species turns out to be smarter than they look, they’re taken as experiments.” The Irken said then, eyeing her appreciatively, “You know far more than you should, but with that brand on your skin, we have no grounds to take you. You’re lucky, human, remember that. As long as that one lays claim to you, you’re off-limits to everyone.”

 

Dakota tightened her hold on the baggie, “Even if he’s human?”

 

Xer smirked, “He’s still an Irken, hybrid or not, the only thing that’s keeping you from escaping his claim is his ties to the Empire. Although...if he turns out to be a traitor, then you’re free game, and I won’t hesitate.” He looked over her form once again and finally turned away, whistling pleasantly as he returned to his seat upfront.

 

Dakota shuddered slightly and sighed, worry erupting in her features. They were fucked if Matthew didn’t play by the rules. She swallowed thickly and went back to her spot next to Matthew, opening the baggie and looking inside of it. There were two miniature bags of chips with Irken writing and a couple of candy bars. Right, she sighed. Irkens ate mostly junk food.

 

“Matthew.” She whispered, nudging his shoulder. He only made a groaning noise and shifted in his seat. Dakota frowned and set the bag aside to nudge him further. “Matthew!” She went about pinching him between his arm and chest, managing to snap him out of it. Matthew made a strangled groan and winced.

 

He felt like there was a heavy weight on him, still swimming in the world between sleep and reality. Matthew didn’t remember feeling so tired but it just ran into him like a mac truck and suddenly he was down for the count. He felt a soft hand lightly slapping his cheek and he inhaled, smelling the faint scent of coffee and hearing Dakota’s voice. Waking up to her voice felt like the best thing in the world right now, his imagination putting them in bed together on Earth, with no sign of the fucking Irken anywhere near them. It was when he opened his eyes that he finally registered where he was, realizing that they weren’t anywhere comfortable and pleasant. He looked at Dakota groggily, the haze of sleep trying to pull him back under. “Dakota?” He asked brokenly.

 

Dakota looked relieved, shifting so she was sitting on his lap, his legs between hers. “We have a problem.” She whispered. “Stay awake, please.”

 

If anything, the fact that she was sitting on his lap wasn’t something his attention could shy away from. He watched the worry plastered on her face, how she looked at him with pleading green eyes. Her lip was pulled between her teeth as she watched him attempt to recollect himself, “What’s wrong?” He finally asked after a moment of distracted haze.

 

Right, both of them had been captured...and all because he was the perfect height of a--

 

“You need to pretend that your allegiance lies with the Empire.” Dakota said in an urgent whisper.

 

The words had him going still, wondering if he had heard her correctly. “I what?”

 

Dakota glanced away and towards the control room before hooking her arms around Matthew’s neck, speaking closely to his ear. “If you don’t pretend that you agree with the Empire then they’re going to take me away from you.” She whispered, holding onto him tight.

 

Matthew was clear enough to understand her words now, even if the delivery of those words were enough to affect him in different ways. He tried hard not to let his attraction to the woman next to him dominate whatever news she was trying to give him. “You’re saying...I have to make nice with these fucks?”

 

Dakota hummed an affirmative and sighed, “If you fight them in this then you’ll be labeled as a traitor and you’re going to be deleted while they throw me to the first Irken who wants me.” She cast another worried glance towards the front, seeing that Xer was watching them. “There’s already someone who’s interested.”

 

Matthew looked over towards the offending Irken, feeling a wave of anger wash through him, “He’s not going anywhere near you.” He responded in a low growl.

 

When Xer stood up from his seat to make his way back Dakota’s mind reeled and she did the first thing she could think of, bringing her mouth to Matthew’s and kissing him. The sudden act wasn’t lost on Matthew, but he was powerless to act on it. His body instantly wanted to grab her and take control, show a real display of dominance and power and give that Irken a reason to not fuck with him.

 

Xer regarded the exchange with amusement, “He’s awake, then.”

 

Dakota finally broke the kiss, realizing that she had let herself get carried away. Her cheeks went pink and she clamored off of Matthew quickly, leaving the man irritated and annoyed that it had ended. He had to mentally slap himself, now wasn’t the time to think about those things.

 

“Yeah I’m fucking awake.” He growled out, glaring at the Irken. “I’m also fucking cramped with these binds holding me so tight.”

 

“We only did all of that because you became hostile.” Xer quipped, smiling. “Normally an Irken would be very excited to become a Tallest.”

 

Matthew scowled, “I was perfectly content with what I was doing before you fuckheads dropped in on us.”

 

Dakota cleared her throat, and Matthew caught her pleading eyes, wincing right after and sighing. “So what do you want?”

 

“I’m just wondering if you’d like me to loosen those ropes or if you’re perfectly content with being hostile.” He kept his eyes on Dakota as he talked, “I would hate to have you become Tallest and then shoot me out of a canon because I wasn’t the least bit hospitable.”

 

Matthew bared his teeth, “Eyes off my woman, and maybe I’ll keep you alive for longer than a day.”

 

Xer raised his hands placatingly and turned his attention away from Dakota, grinning, “Right, right. That’s on me.” He went to the other side of the cell and went about undoing the ropes as the glass opened up to allow his hands to work, effectively untying the knot at the top of the ropes. When his hands retracted, the glass became whole again, and Dakota went about loosening the ropes around Matthew.

 

Now all that was left were the alien sleep-cuffs around his wrists. Matthew cleared his throat when the Irken turned away, catching Xer’s attention as he held up his cuffed wrists expectantly.

 

Xer thought about it, but the cell’s glass pane was quite strong, strong enough to contain a slaughtering rat person and the worst of all Irken fugitives. He nodded eventually and quirked his forefinger towards him, his other hand pressing against the glass and opening up a slightly larger window. Matthew got up, hesitantly, because he wanted nothing more than to grab this Irken from the tiny window he was being given and break his fucking neck, but Dakota’s hand on his arm was the Irken’s saving grace. He had to act nice for her sake, he had to pretend to be obedient to the Empire to survive.

 

The thought disgusted him.

 

Matthew’s hands stayed where they were while Xer undid the restraints, the Irken taking the cuffs while the man withdrew his hands, forcing himself to not reach out any further to grab the fucker. Dakota’s hand squeezed his bicep reassuringly and smiled at him once he turned to her, his arms spread only to grasp onto her and hold Dakota tightly against him. The woman’s cheeks went pink from the gesture but she didn’t say anything, allowing it to happen. She felt safe around Matthew. She always felt safe around Matthew. She caught Xer’s eyes watching them and she returned the calculating stare with her own smile, turning her head to kiss Matthew’s cheek.

 

“Eat up, we left hyperdrive some time ago and we’ll be hitting the Massive in a matter of hours. Matthew ,” The name felt weird coming from his tongue, but that’s what the pack scanner supplied him with, “Is going to become very busy.”

 

When he finally left Dakota felt her tension melt away, mostly because his mere presence riled Matthew up to the point of anger. She patted his shoulder, signaling Matthew to finally let go of her. It took him a while until he finally done so, and Matthew finally decided to sit down, bringing Dakota with him.

 

“What did he mean by eat up ?” Matthew questioned.

 

Dakota leaned over his lap to reach for the baggie, bringing it up to drop it in his hands. “Remember, we’re dealing with the species that eats snacks as a nutrient.” She smiled slightly.

 

Matthew frowned, taking a peek inside the baggie and digging his hand in to pull out a candy bar. “...we can’t survive on this shit.” He said in a higher octave than his normal voice.

 

Dakota didn’t reply, snatching the candy bar from his hands and unwrapping it, giving it a taste. It made her cringe instantly, holding it out towards him. “It’s super sweet.”

 

Matthew didn’t even try, groaning in frustration and tossing it back into the bag.

 

He missed his whiskey.




The location of Prisoner 777’s children was so foolishly simple, only Zim could think of it.

 

“I don’t understand.” Dib said as the ship took them to Foodcourtia. “Zim would never step onto Foodcourtia again after the last time, so what in the hell possessed him to enslave little Vortian children there?”

 

Jinx was sitting in the second chair, his arms folded and legs crossed as he glared at the screen. “How the fuck should I know? I kept a fair distance from the Exile. I was only a smeet when Operation Impending Doom One took place, the asshole managed to destroy a lot of things and kill a lot of Irkens. I was nearly done in by a laser cannon.” His eye twitched at the memory. “Whatever he has done after he landed on your planet is only known to him.”

 

Dib looked almost sympathetic to Jinx’s short story, which made him further understand the Irken sitting next to him. He was young, younger than Zim or the Tallests. He thought about it, “How many of your generation survived?”

 

Jinx snorted, “I was one of a handful that escaped Operation Impending Doom One. I survived by the skin of my teeth, and it earned me a promotion until they began to notice me becoming taller. I remember that time too well. Birthing was forcefully stalled for at least twenty sweeps because the Smeetery was destroyed. I was the only one of my generation that became taller. Statistically, there should have been at least a few more besides me, but Zim fucked that up entirely.”

 

“So...when that Irken Hunter was talking about the lack of possible replacements for Tallest, it was because of Operation Impending Doom One.” Dib sounded distracted, his brain whirring over the new information.

 

The Irken watched Dib for quite some time, “As far as I know, I was the only one that grew this tall. It could possibly be that the smeets that were intended to be hatched during that time with the height gene were completely destroyed, and that explains the lack of available candidates. An Irken must be over a certain height before they’re considered eligible to become a Tallest.”

 

“How tall would that be?” Dib asked, curious.

 

Jinx fell silent for a moment, thinking about it in his head. “About 1.2 meters.”

 

Four feet? Dib didn’t know how to react to that. It meant the majority of Irkens were smaller than four feet, and the tallest they’ve come across was Matthew, who wasn’t even technically an Irken. He was a hybrid of the two created by his father! Matthew was taller than he was, and Dib was around five foot six. No wonder they were having trouble looking for another Tallest.

 

“All the potentially tall Irkens were destroyed in Operation Impending Doom One.” Dib said in realization. “You’re around...what, eight feet?”

 

“2.28 meters.” Jinx corrected him. “Red and Purple were 2.4 meters.”

 

Dib winced, “They must be desperate if they took Matthew in for that position.”

 

“That’s exactly what they are, desperate. The Control Brains wouldn’t bother with a hybrid species normally, it would be imperfect and set a bad example for morale. If what you said was true, and the Control Brains ordered it themselves, then they’re hurting for a figurehead.”

 

“Matthew doesn’t even know how an Irken is!” Dib cried out, “He’s only seen my show! How the fuck can he rule an Empire if he’s ignorant of the culture?”

 

“The information will be transferred to his pack, most likely. Everything he will ever need to know, just like how we learn everything as soon as we’re hatched.” Jinx rubbed his temples, sighing. “I really don’t want to think about this more than we have to. Let’s just snatch the smeets and get the hell to Retristé.”

 

Dib sighed, leaning back in his seat.

 

“Approaching Foodcourtia!” The computer announced overhead.

 

Dib gazed out the window and towards a giant pink gaseous planet with billboards surrounding its atmosphere, advertising for delicious food. “How are we going to get around?”

 

“It’s easier when you know where you’re going. I know a guy, and he’s the eyes and ears of the entire planet. Though, to get to him we have to go underground.”

 

“Underground?”

 

“There’s two levels on Foodcourtia. The main eatery is where everyone goes to be gluttonous pigs, but the Underground is a far seedier side of the planet. It’s still wall to wall with shops, but the food is highly rare and/or questionable. You can find illegal foodstuffs within the Underground.” Jinx watched them move further into the planet, and Dib made sure to park in a secure lot. From the outside of their windows, the planet looked densely populated. Almost like New York City on a busy day.

 

Dib got up when Jinx did, but the Irken went towards the cargo bay instead of the door. “Whatever you do, do not leave my side, and definitely do not eat anything anyone tries to offer you. People usually become abducted here, and you’re very unique looking.”

 

The man rolled his eyes, “I’m not stupid, you know. I know not to take candy from strangers.”

 

Jinx’s antennae twitched, and they stepped into the large room. “If we’re going to get any answers from my contact we’re going to have to bring him something rare and unfound anywhere else. It’s a good payment for our information.” He lead Dib into the freezer section and over to the crate of pineapples. “This will do nicely.”

 

Dib’s eyes widened in understanding before he nodded.

 

Minutes later they descended the cargo hold with the crate of fruit, Dib controlling the levitating dolley and going where Jinx instructed him to go. The two of them were being stared at once they descended the ramp into the darker recesses of the Underground. Dib could see how it was the seedier side of Foodcourtia, spotting the nameless aliens and their back alley deals behind the rare food shops, other aliens eyeing him with interest. Dib felt a cold chill go down his spine. In the distance were a group of insect-like aliens with wings.

 

Jinx leaned in, “Don’t go near those aliens.” He said quietly, “They’re called Tidral, and it’s their mating season. They’re extremely aggressive at this time.” He perked his head up and spotted a hallway that had something significant that alerted him, steering Dib another direction.

 

“What? That hallway is completely clear!” Dib told him.

 

“It’s empty for a reason.” Jinx whispered, “You can see it, visible coils. There’s a creature that resides down that hallway looking for someone to mate with, and she won’t hesitate to bite any of us and inject us both full of her venom.”

 

“Bite--” Dib paled, “Inject? Like a snake?” He was starting to hate being down here. “Is everything down here looking for sex?”

 

“It’s the seedier side of Foodcourtia, of course!” Jinx continued to lead him further down the main hallway. “Most of the food on one half of this place are known galactic aphrodisiacs.” He smirked slightly before frowning, lamenting his loss. He wanted to come here and buy one of those to give it to Dakota. He was curious about how they would have made her react. He glanced at the pineapples. They would possibly sell for a good price if he kept a couple…

 

He’d have to store that somewhere secret, however. Despite their mission, he had some time to haggle with a vendor.

 

Eventually they stopped at a shop that was without the neon lights and signs, just a plain-looking shop that almost blended in with the background. Dib looked around, taking in all the shops with blinding lights. “Is this one abandoned?”

 

Jinx snorted, “No, my contact just relies on word of mouth for his advertisement. He doesn’t need fancy signs if his food is better than the rest.” He glanced around, shoving Dib further inside. “You go and get him, I’m guarding the food.”

 

Dib yelped, turning back towards Jinx. “Me? Why me?”

 

“Because, if I go inside, you and our food will be gone when I eventually come back out.” He smirked, “No one messes with an Irken in this place. Go ahead, he has a translator, he’ll understand you. Tell him Jinx is outside!”

 

Dib opened his mouth to argue but shut it, eventually giving up and heading on inside. The place looked almost empty, the lighting in the entire building was dark, save for the blaring yellow light further inside the kitchen. Dib slowly walked towards the counter, spotting a bell and ringing it.

 

An alien popped his head from the doorway and eyed Dib up and down, mumbling something to himself before slipping over to him. Dib swallowed thickly, the alien looked...unlike an alien, but more like a demon. He was a shadowy figure with sharp yellow teeth and piercing eyes...which he counted eight of them, all glued to Dib. It was hard to tell if he had a body under the white apron, but it was clear that he didn’t have legs. He seemed to move smoothly like an actual shadow, something entirely creepy and unnerving and could possibly give children nightmares.

 

“What would you like to order?” He asked in a voice that didn’t fit his person, something that almost sounded between British and Australian. It was...weird.

 

Dib forced a smile, “I’m here with a friend, Jinx? He said you two know each other.”

 

Those yellow sharpened teeth seemed to multiply as the creature smiled even wider, “Jinx!” He barked out, “I assumed he was on the run.”

 

Dib blinked, “Y--you know he’s a fugitive?”

 

“Of course, he came in ages ago, during his Invading years. I allowed him temporary room and board while he worked here. His ship was broken and the idiot needed a few weeks to fix it. Last time I heard, he had done in his leaders…are you both here to hide away?”

 

Dib shook his head, becoming less unnerved by the frightening alien. “Not exactly, we’re on our way--”

 

“ARE YOU COMING BACK OUT OR NOT?” Came the bellowing cry from the entrance.

 

“HOLD YOUR FUCKING ANTENNAE!” The creature snarled out in an otherworldly scream, startling Dib so badly that he cried out. “Go on.” He continued, without the scream.

 

Dib’s eye twitched, “Well, it’s a really long story...we’re actually here to find some children.”

 

The grin seemed to get bigger, “Information isn’t free, pasty bipedal creature.”

 

“Dib.” The man corrected, “And we brought some payment, it’s right outside.”

 

The two of them proceeded to go to the entrance, and while Dib’s eyes were on Jinx, the creature’s eyes were on the crate of spiny fruit.

 

“About damn time, you asshole.” Jinx said in a huff, glaring at the shadow.

 

“Piss off.” Muttered the creature.

 

“Dib, this is Raym. Raym, this is--”

 

“He’s already told me, you idiot.” Raym took out a pineapple. “What on Foodcourtia are these magnificent things?”

 

“Pineapple.” Both Dib and Jinx said at the same time.

 

“Pine...apple…” He repeated slowly, looking back at the crate and glaring at Jinx. “You fool, take it to the back.”

 

If Jinx were rolling his eyes, Dib would slightly know, but it was hard to tell. The Irken began to mutter something under his breath and began to tote the giant crate towards the back of the shop.

 

Raym distractedly left Dib to enter the shop, and the man realized that he was out here alone. He darted in quickly before the front door shut and locked itself, a closed sign appearing in the one window.

 

The shadowy presence proceeded to return to the kitchen, towards the back storeroom where his fruit was waiting. “Leave it.” He said, “No one dares to steal from me.” As he said that he removed one of his eyes, which made Dib wince badly as the creature placed it onto the crate itself. “Not if they wish to die horribly.”

 

Jinx smirked, finding Dib’s lack of color amusing, the man still staring at the detached eye and audibly yelping when it looked directly at him. Raym paid him no mind, returning to the kitchen to grab a knife so he could cut into the fruit. He expected it to bleed, or scream as it was being cut, but instead, it leaked out translucent juice. He brought the juice to his mouth and tasted it, humming in recognition.

 

“I never tasted anything like this.” He finally said as Jinx took a seat at the counter. Dib eventually joined him, trying not to stare at Raym. It was enough that the alien had the name of a demon on Earth, but looking almost like an Eldritch monster was a little too much.

 

The creature continued to sample the fruit, eventually offering the other two a couple of pieces. Jinx ate his thoughtfully, remembering what Dakota said about how it made her taste, and Dib just stared at it for a while before eating in one bite.

 

Finally, Raym left the kitchen to return to them, setting down the knife on the table. “What do you want to know?”

 

“We’re looking for Vortian smeets.” Jinx said with no hesitance. “About three of them. Our sources say that they are here.”

 

Raym nodded, “Vortians… no one encounters Vortians here unless they’re runaways, but I know a fair three younglings that are working for a restaurant chain. They’re too young to be working but the owner doesn’t care, he has them shackled under orders. Who was it that sent them here?”

 

“The Exile.” Jinx explained, “He kidnapped the smeets from a Vortian he wanted information from, and we tracked them down here. We need them in order to get the coordinates to Retristé.”

 

“Looking for the Resisty,” Raym said knowingly. “They’re hard to contact, Jinx. I never thought you’d be turning against your Empire.”

 

“They kidnapped my property.” He growled out, “A human female. She’s being taken to the Massive. I don’t care for going against my own people, but everything comes down to me needing to find the Renegade.”

 

Dib looked over at Jinx, then at Raym, seeing how the many eyes of the creature seemed to glitter. They were the same color as his teeth, looking entirely at Jinx.

 

“Only a fair few know the way to the Renegade. He doesn’t flaunt his planet around like the Empire does with Irk. You do realize that once you go to him, there’s no turning back. Consorting with Domino is a no-no.”

 

Jinx slammed his fist onto the counter, “I’m getting back my female.” He shouted, stunning Dib in his seat. It reminded him of when Jinx chased him and Matthew down half of Bycoast to retrieve Dakota, the same act of possessiveness that he was witnessing now. He didn’t understand how deep that possessiveness went if he was just now witnessing an Irken willing to go against The Empire to take back what he claimed as his.

 

Unless Jinx wasn’t just thinking of her as his possession, but something more…

 

He shook his head at the thought. Irkens didn’t feel love, that was impossible. Their emotions were limited, almost primal in nature. Love was out of the question.

 

Dib didn’t hear what Raym had to say, just realizing that Jinx had begun to leave the shop. He got up quickly and ran after him. “Wait. Where are we going?” He shouted.

 

“Floobys. It’s above ground.” Jinx told him, “The three smeetlings are there--” The Irken stopped suddenly, glancing back towards the shop. “Hold that thought.” He said distractedly, hurrying back towards the shop. Dib watched him leave, all too aware of the aliens within the area and hoping that Jinx wouldn’t be long.

 

Suddenly there was a crash, and an enraged howl, “ JINX!

 

The Irken reappeared, grinning widely as he came running towards Dib with two pineapples in his grasp. “Before we go I need to make a quick stop.” He hurried past Dib, causing the man to run after him.

 

“What did you do?” He cried out.

 

“Finders fee!” Jinx replied, holding up his pineapples. Dib continued to follow Jinx as the Irken wove his way through the shops, the Irken reminiscent of his weeks living down here as he learned where and where not to go. Eventually they stopped at a lonely hallway with a couple of shops. “Wait here.” Jinx instructed him.

 

Dib looked around, “What about the aliens?”

 

Jinx took a careful sweep of the hallway, “You’re safe right now. I won’t be long.” He grinned, flicking Dib’s hair scythe and heading inside. Dib made a strangled noise and shrugged, leaning against the wall of the shop and hearing murmurs from inside, Jinx’s voice and the voice of something else. He rubbed his arm, still looking around. They needed to get those children soon, but he wondered how easy that would be. They couldn’t just go in and take them, can they?

 

Dib didn’t get to finish his thought when Jinx came back out, returning a mysterious package into his pack. Dib watched him suspiciously. “What was that?”

 

Jinx smiled at him, “Nothing you need to worry your big head about, human.”

 

“My head’s not big!” Dib couldn’t believe he was having to defend his head size at his age, but the comment seemed to make his chest ache as he remembered Zim’s comments. He let out a sigh, trying to ignore it while following Jinx out of the Underground. Once they were up top the crowd was thicker, and Dib had to grab Jinx’s hand so they wouldn’t be separated. The Irken didn’t think anything of it, allowing the contact for now.

 

Floobys was...large. It was also popular. There was a mascot in the front of the restaurant, trying to get people to go inside. The size of the mascot was what caught Dib’s eyes. The costume was big enough to hold a child…

 

Dib let go of Jinx and stuck his hand in his pocket, taking out a folded piece of paper. On it were three names. Veem, Smoofy, and Bruk. He went over to the mascot and looked further in the gaping mouth, spotting a Vortian child. “Smoofy?”

 

The child perked its head up at the name, shaking his head. “Smoofy’s working the fryer, I’m Bruk.”

 

Dib nodded, looking at Jinx. “How are we going to get them out?” He asked the taller. “They won’t just give them back without a fight.”

 

Jinx grinned smoothly, “Leave everything to me. Stay out here with the smeet.” He left their side and strutted on into the restaurant, leaving Dib with Bruk. The child watched the Irken leave, wincing slightly.

 

“Is he going to hurt us?” The child asked.

 

“Others, probably, but not you.” Dib tried to sound reassuring, but it didn’t work. He took the hand of the mascot, leading him away. “Let’s just--”

 

KABOOM.

 

Dib shrieked and so did the small child, both of them seeing the restaurant's windows shatter under the intensity of the explosion. Suddenly, Jinx was racing out, both children under each arm as he hurried out. “RUN RUN RUN!” He cried out.

 

Dib didn’t have to be told twice, grasping Bruk’s arm and hurrying after Jinx. He could hear noise, and he glanced back to see the owner chasing after them. “Jesus Christ!” He cried.

 

“Hurry!” Jinx shouted.

 

The two of them raced through the crowds with the children in their grasp, managing to lose the owner of Foobys after a particularly large crowd separated the two of them, but the two males didn’t stop running. Only when the ship was in sight that they slowed down, Dib hurrying to get Bruk onto the ship as Jinx practically threw Smoofy and Veem.

 

“Time to go!” Jinx got in his seat quickly and started up the ship, steering them out of the parking lot while Dib finally collapsed into his seat. The man was still breathing heavily, almost exhausted.

 

“Um…” Came a small voice.

 

Dib turned to the children, the one in the splotchy apron and hairnet watching them with wide purple eyes. “Are we being kidnapped again?”

 

Jinx snorted in amusement, laughing suddenly at the question.

 

Dib tried to smile reassuringly at them, even though Jinx’s laughter didn’t seem to ease their worries.

Chapter Text

It was impossible to fall asleep, not in their situation. The hours seemed to wane on and torment both of them as they had nothing else to do but sit and wait. Matthew was good company nevertheless, he managed to keep Dakota from worrying too much or thinking too hard about their situation, while Dakota kept Matthew calm under the circumstances and was the logical one of the two. They sat there for hours, only getting up to keep their legs from getting stiff. At one point Dakota sat on Matthew’s lap again and rested her head on his shoulder, enjoying the soothing feeling of him combing his fingers through her hair.

 

Eventually, the Irkens holding them alerted the two to their final destination. Both of them turned their attention to the front display window to see the one thing they thought they’d never see in their lives outside the cartoon. The Massive was... massive . It was larger than life and it was then Dakota realized that it was that big because it housed so many Irkens. The Massive was the main control hub of all Irkens. It was a mobile home in space, taking everyone where they needed to go to dominate and control planets lying in its wake. This was how the Empire managed to become so vast and wide, this was how planets were destroyed. This was bigger than a Titan, it was practically a God.

 

Matthew was going to control this monolithic structure, and every Irken inside of it.

 

A shiver went up Dakota’s spine at the thought, and she looked back at Matthew. He was still staring at the window, wide-eyed and amazed. She felt nervous and scared, hoping that everything wouldn’t turn out badly. If Matthew made one wrong move or say something he shouldn’t, then their lives would come crashing down around them. There would be a chance to escape if they just played their cards right. All they needed to do was wait for Jinx and Dib to get in touch with Domino. Everything had to go perfectly, smoothe and without any problems.

 

“Get up.” Lema tore her thoughts away and Dakota had to climb off of Matthew, standing when he did. “We’re here.”

 

They had docked into a ship’s landing, and outside of the window stood a half-dozen or so soldiers and two advisors. It almost looked intimidating. Dakota kept a reassuring grasp on Matthew’s shoulder, feeling him tense up from under her hand. “Just do as I say.” She said quietly to him. Matthew finally looked down at her, nodding and pulling her forward so he could kiss her forehead.

 

“I’m not going to lose you.” He whispered.

 

Xer clapped his hands together, “Let’s party!” He put his hands to the glass and a button interface formed, his fingers typing in a sequence before the glass turned white and vanished, freeing the two of them. “Time to go, I hope you two had a good rest.” He smiled at both of them as Lema opened the door. Dakota continued to gaze at the Irkens outside, realizing how short they were compared to her and Matthew. None of them were above five feet.

 

Was this why they took Matthew?

 

Dakota took Matthew’s hand as they left the ship, his hand squeezing hers tightly as they came upon the smaller soldiers and advisors. The advisors seemed to take in Matthew’s presence with a quiet appreciation before one of them stepped closer to gaze at the tattoos on his arms.

 

“What impressive markings.” He murmured. “All over your limbs.”

 

“I have more than that everywhere else.” Matthew muttered under his breath, and Dakota flushed at the memory. The one time she caught Matthew shirtless and realized that his tattoos didn’t just end on his arms.

 

The second advisor smacked the arm of the first, snapping him out of his daze as he cleared his throat. “Matt-hew, you are to meet with the Control Brains immediately.” He finally looked at Dakota, “You may leave your belongings in your room.”

 

Dakota stilled, “I need to go with Matthew--”

 

The second advisor stepped up to her, “Your mate will be perfectly okay without you.” He took her hand, “Come, come, your presence isn’t required.”

 

“Actually,” Matthew stopped the second one, “She stays with me.”

 

Both advisors shook their heads, “I’m afraid not, rules are that the Tallest-Elect meet with the Control Brains with just their advisors. It’s a private affair. You may go back to your…” He looked over Dakota, “Female, after.”

 

Matthew tensed up and glared scathingly at the advisor, “I’m not leaving Dakota--”

 

“Matthew!” Dakota caught his attention instantly and she shook her head, “It’s okay, I’ll be alright.” She insisted, reaching out for him with her free hand. “Just remember what I told you.”

 

We can’t afford to lose each other.

 

Matthew was hesitant but eventually allowed it, and the two of them were quickly separated. Half of the soldiers went with Matthew while the other half went with Dakota.

 

The advisor didn’t look too bothered, “Is there anything I can get you female? Your status as the Tallest’s mate earns you anything you need, my name is Zix.”

 

The Irken’s voice became farther and farther away as Dakota and Matthew went down two different hallways. Matthew could only remain silent as he followed the smaller advisor, trying not to get angry at the fact that Dakota was taken from him. He had to put his hatred for Irkens aside if he needed to survive this, but it was so hard when every single one of them looked squishy enough to put his fist through.

 

“Our first task is to meet with the Control Brains, there you will be evaluated on your position and your pack will be recoded, and anything else that needs to be taken care of. After that is done we’re to affix you with your needed armor, after that is the televised Great Measuring, where you will be publically introduced as a Talles--”

 

“Am I the only tall one in this shithole?” Matthew asked suddenly.

 

The advisor blinked, “What do you mean?”

 

“It sounds kinda desperate for you to make me a Tallest when there’s probably another Irken that could fit the bill, don’t you think?” He folded his arms, a little annoyed. “Don’t tell me that no one is taller than me.”

 

The advisor’s antennae drooped. “I’m afraid not, Matt-hew. Normally we would have someone earlier, but we suffered a loss in population after the Exile had destroyed the Smeetery. You’re the first Irken…” He glanced at Matthew. “Well, you’re the first with Irken genetics that fits the bill. I’m shocked that the Control Brains don’t mind your human appearance.”

 

“Great.” Matthew muttered to himself, his eyes roaming along the inside of the massive. It looked...busy, like an ant colony, but if the ants were green and not really bugs. Like the advisor had said, all of them weren’t tall enough.

 

They entered an elevator after that, and Matthew forced himself to remain quiet, all the while thinking about Dakota and if she was safe. When the elevator dinged, the advisor grinned under his collar.

 

“The Control Brains wish to meet with you.”

 


 

 

Zix hummed while leading Dakota down the hallways, her presence sparking everyone who passed to look up at her and whisper to themselves. Many of them were watching her with great interest, and Dakota could see the guards behind her shoot warning glares at those who did.

 

She tried to think logically about the situation. This wasn’t going to be a fast thing. They would need to spend more than a night in this place, which meant they had more time on their hands as they waited for Jinx and Dib, and whoever they had brought to help them. Her first thought was on toiletries, her feminine products that she knew she would need soon, and most importantly…

 

“Excuse me.” She caught Zix’s attention quickly. “Our dietary habits are ...highly different than Irkens...we require meat and greens, and snack foods aren’t healthy for us.”

 

The advisor seemed to know where she was going with her words, nodding. “Our technology is able to create anything that fits your specific needs, human female, don’t worry about your stomach. The Tallest’s suite offers whatever you need.”

 

Dakota nodded quietly, looking around. “Are we going to Conventia for the Great Measuring?”

 

The guards watched her in slight shock, whispering to each other, and Dakota realized her mistake and covered her mouth.

 

Zix chuckled slightly, “It’s nice to know you’re a little informed of our world. No, while we would usually go to Conventia for this type of event, we’re forced to transmit The Great Measuring from right here in the Massive. You can watch it from the transmitter in your suite.”

 

Dakota frowned, “Why can’t I be there?”

 

“Safety reasons. Do not worry, female,”

 

“Dakota.”

 

“Da-ko-ta,” He clarified, “Tallest Matt-hew will return to you once his day is complete.”

 

They finally came onto an ornate door that was bigger than the others, and Zix pressed some buttons to open it up, allowing Dakota inside. Two of the guards stayed at the door, guarding either side of it. Zix showed her the rooms inside of the suite, the bathroom, the showers, the bedroom. The bedroom was...spacious, with a bed that was bigger than what she was used to. When she sat down on it the bed began to jiggle, and it felt very warm to the touch. It seemed to be a water bed, but without the water. The warmth seemed to entice her to lie down but she refused to yet, wanting to roam the room some more.

 

Zix helped her figure out the controls to the transmitter before he was called away, the remaining guards leaving with him. Dakota was now alone in the small apartment-like room, sitting on the couch and staring at the futuristic technology. She began to think, suddenly, that if they had translators for Irkens to understand humans, then perhaps she could find one that was the other way around. She wasn’t like Dib, she didn’t understand the Irken language, she wouldn’t be able to read it otherwise. She and Matthew were out of their element, but Matthew would be worse since he would actually have to rule everyone and everything here.

 

All of this was quite exhausting, she realized, the culture shock of this sudden trip was finally taking its toll on her. Suddenly that warm bed seemed a lot more inviting, and she slowly got up to make her way back to the bed. A nap wouldn’t hurt, would it? She didn’t have a watch, or any other concept of time, but maybe if she dozed off for a while…

 

The warmth of the bed and how it formed to fit her body felt so good at the moment, and she curled up onto one side and promised herself that she wouldn’t sleep for long.

 


 

 

The room was alight with the white glow of the floor. Overhead were wires, intricate and heavy wires the hummed with life. There was nothing more in this magenta-colored room than the two giant violet capsules that were hooked up to those wires, and Matthew stood there, silently wondering how the hell could these things see if they didn’t have eyes. His advisor, Nym, had left upon the Control Brains request, leaving him alone with the imposing figures.

 

“Matt-hew, you’ve been identified as a Irken-Human Hybrid according to one of our own.” Said one of the brains.

 

Matthew wanted to correct him, that he was a full on human but with Irken blood due to his stupid decisions, but he could hear Dakota begging him not to bring it up. He remained quiet, glaring at the two.

 

“Step forward.” The other commanded, and before Matthew could protest a wire came out of nowhere and shoved him forward, causing the man to stumble into the middle of the lit floor.

 

“The fuck?” He hissed out, looking for what just pushed him. “I rather you not fucking manhandle me before the first date.” He snapped out sarcastically, straightening up.

 

“The temper on this one.”

 

“He radiates anger.”

 

“Quite possibly his nature.”

 

“I can hear you!” Matthew bit out, folding his arms, “Are you fucking going to do anything or--GAHH!” Matthew’s back arched before he stumbled forward, collapsing to the floor and pressing his hands against the surface. His back was now cowed, feeling something hook itself up into the pack on his back. A large metal wire was connected to his pack, running through everything. His thoughts, his memories, his--

 

“FUCK!” He shouted, grimacing in pain.

 

“Interesting! Not just a hybrid!”

 

“An experiment, but his genetic coding is clearly Irken.”

 

“The human cells in his body have been submitting to the Irken cells injected into him for years, that’s how the defect’s pack was able to survive this long.”

 

“The Exile’s pack has been wiped clean, there’s nothing left. Good riddance, I never liked him anyway.”

 

“The hybrid is perfect for what we need, all that’s required is an information dump.”

 

“No, there needs to be more than an information dump. His brain isn’t up to our standards, he can easily turn against the Empire.”

 

“That’s not hard to fix, go ahead with fixing the mistakes.”

 

Matthew didn’t understand what he was hearing, only knowing that something bad was happening and he was starting to become alarmed the more they spoke about fixing his brain. What did that mean? Were they going to wipe his memories? Was he going to forget about Dakota?

 

As if the brain heard his thoughts, there was a low chuckle. “Don’t worry, Matt-hew, that Meekrob hybrid is valuable to us, the female is never leaving your side.”

 

“Dakota--” Matthew breathed, giving out a guttural cry, “If you do ANYTHING TO HER--” He screamed as soon as something electrocuted him, causing the man to slump to the floor.

 

“No, the only one who’s going to do anything to her is you .”

 

Matthew screamed again when the electrical pulses went into his pack, and he felt it instantly, he was beginning to see everything. The history, the culture, the language, his brain was filling up with so much information that he was having trouble keeping up. He slurred out a curse, only to realize it was in the Irken language, his eyes widening.

 

“What the fuck is happening to me?” His voice broke.

 

“Now comes the fun part!” The brain sing-songed.

 

Matthew’s guttural screams were loud enough to be heard from outside the chambers, and Nym shuddered as he listened to the entire thing. They continued, an endless cry that seemed to go on forever until Matthew’s voice finally gave out. Nym waited patiently on the other end of the door, exchanging looks with a guard at his side.

 

Suddenly, there was a pleasant jingle, alerting Nym to the process having finished. He opened the door and hurried inside, stopping a small distance away from Matthew’s sprawled out body. “Y-yes?” He questioned.

 

“Tallest Matt-hew has been recoded and reprogrammed, the hybrid is ready for the rest of his duties.”

 

Nym looked back down at Matthew, watching as the man began to groan and slowly turn himself over. The man took a deep breath and slowly sat up, swaying instantly. His head hurt but that was something he could take care of easily.

 

He had an Empire to run.

 


 

 

Every transmitter was powered on and blaring the broadcast of the newly measured Tallest Matt-hew all throughout the universe. To the public the Tallest was a full-blooded Irken, the man having been equipped with a disguise chip that mimicked his body in every way, only hiding his human appearance. He stood as a blue-eyed Tallest with black robes, the markings on his arms making the Irken look more imposing than anything else. His appearance was widely accepted among the Irkens inside the massive, all the smallers cheering with unabashed joy that they finally found their Tallest.

 

The broadcast was a universal wide phenomenon, everyone inside and outside the Empire were witness to the new Tallest. Especially the inhabitants of a tiny red planet that held the Empire’s rejects, slaves, and fugitives. The club was closed at the moment, all the employees gathered around the transmitter as they laid witness to the new Tallest being coronated. 

 

“Well, fuck.” Said a pink-eyed Vortian. “I was hopin’ they never find one.”

 

“They must have searched the far corners of the universe for him.” A red-eyed Irken commented, smirking. “Matt-hew isn’t an Irken name.”

 

“No, it ain’t.” The Vortian, Zetiya, murmured. “The whole thing seems a little fishy to me. The Exile took out all the possible candidates.”

 

“Yet here he is.” Another alien moaned. “We’re doomed, are we?”

 

“Not exactly.” A bigger, red-eyed Irken that was scarred from head to toe startled the rest of them, most of the aliens backing up from the crazed look in his eyes. “This one ain’t got beef with the Boss. It was Red and Purple that wanted Domie dead.”

 

“You’re saying that like this Matt-hew won’t turn his attention towards us.” Zetiya folded her arms. “I’m wonderin’ what Lard Nar and Dios gotta say about this.”

 

“Lard Nar is probably hidin’ under a fuckin rock screamin’ his head off.” The bigger Irken, Crux, replied with a smirk.

 

“What about Domino?” Squeaked a smaller alien. “What does he think?”

 

Zetiya held up her hand so everyone quieted down, listening for any signs. What they got was a burst of maniacal laughter, one that made half the employees squeak out as the man above cackled out his amusement. “Apparently he finds it funny.” Zetiya said knowingly.

 

As if on cue, the elevator started up and everyone’s attention went straight towards it. When the double-doors opened up they were presented with the grinning presence of a violet-eyed Irken, an eight-foot-tall presence in purple and gold robes. “You won’t believe what I just found out.” Domino cackled again, heading over to them.

 

Zetiya watched her boss, eyeing his mirth. “It better be good.”

 

“Won the bet?” Crux questioned.

 

“Even better.” Domino purred, hooking his arms along a half-wall and smirking at all of them. “I just got word from our informant in the Massive, apparently the new Tallest, this Matt-hew, isn’t an Irken.”

 

Everyone cried out, and Zetiya had to hold onto Crux in the midst of her shock, “WHAT?”

 

“That’s unheard of!”

 

“If he isn’t an Irken than what is he?”

 

“Isn’t that against the rules?”

 

Domino was still chuckling, “You won’t believe it, the fucker’s a human.”

 

“A human?”

 

“What’s a human?”

 

“Isn’t that what The Exile had dealt with?”

 

“Humans are from Earth…”

 

Domino listened to the mumbles and whispers, looking over at Zetiya and Crux. The two of them left the side of the other employees while Dayju decided to stay with them, the two aliens rounding the corner and glaring hard at Domino.

 

“What the fuck you mean that the new Tallest is a human?” Zetiya asked in a harsh whisper.

 

“This hadn’t been done before.” Crux said quietly.

 

Domino glanced around, “Khan had to design the disguise chip himself, that’s what the entire Empire is bearing witness to, an Irken, the Control Brains were told about the human and how he has full-blown Irken genetics and a pack, they ordered him to be brought in. He wasn’t alone, there’s a human female with him. Claims to be his mate.”

 

Zetiya frowned, “A Human-Irken hybrid? I never heard of such a thing.”

 

“Never thought it was possible.” Crux smirked, “Aren’t we sterilized?”

 

Domino ignored the comment, “If the Control Brains captured a human for their cause that means they’ve become desperate. This isn’t something we should cast a blind eye to. We don’t know what the Control Brains could have done to ensure that this human is an obedient little Tallest.”

 

Zetiya pursed her lips. “You mean they would go so far as to--”

 

“They're not above brainwashing and mind control. They’re capable of doing anything, they’re that powerful.”

 

“Why the fuck would they brainwash a random human?” Crux growled out.

 

“The real question is how did a Human-Irken hybrid come to exist.”

 

“I think it’s our job to find out.”

 


 

 

The transmitter in the main room was replaying the coronation on repeat. Dakota had missed it all, every single part of it and the following party that was seemingly held in the main convention hall. The woman was still asleep, snuggled up in the luxurious bed that was warm and cozy. It was the first time she ever slept so soundly, without an Irken to wake her up for sex or being interupted by anything else chaotic or horrible. She was sleeping so soundly that she didn’t hear someone entering the room or the footfalls, the calls of her own name until He found her inside the bedroom.

 

Matthew watched her sleeping form, unable to stop himself from smiling. He was still in his Irken disguise, the imposing tattooed Irken with cold blue eyes. He didn’t seem to mind that he was still in disguise, content with just watching her. She looked so beautiful when she was asleep, so very peaceful. He slowly realized that this wasn’t only his bed now, but hers as well. It was their bed. She was here with him . She wasn’t anywhere near Jinx or within his grasp, but under Matthew’s watchful eyes and loving touch.

 

Because that’s where she belonged, wasn’t it? With him. Not with Jinx, not with anyone else, but with him . Jinx couldn’t hold a candle to their history together. He might have been a sick attraction for Dakota, but she and Matthew knew each other. They shared a bond. Their connection was so much stronger than her and Jinx’s, and it would be so easy to eventually...sever the weaker connection.

 

The man moved to climb into the bed with her, settling down and making sure she didn’t wake up. The Empire wasn’t really such a bad place when he thought about it. No, it was almost perfect for both of them. He could be himself here. The Irkens were more his people than anyone on Earth had been. His and Dakota’s lives could be perfect, and he would make sure of that. He was the fucking Tallest. He could do whatever he wanted.

 

The first task would be a fun one that only he himself could do, because he wanted to do it ever since Dakota was taken from him. When Jinx appeared again, and he fucking will, Matthew would be ready. He would give his people a wonderful show.

 

Killing someone yourself was more fulfilling than having someone else do it.

 

Matthew laid against her, Dakota’s big spoon, wrapping an arm around her waist and minding his wound. They had cut his pinky fingers off in private, under the strict tradition it held. They were healing quickly though, and the pain would be gone in a while. He smiled against her hair, still smelling a faint coffee scent.

 

He had everything he could ever want now, and all he needed to do was make Dakota forget about everyone else.

 

He was all she needed.

 

Matthew felt Dakota shift in his arms, and soon they were face to face. He couldn't help himself, leaning down to capture her lips in a tender kiss. She reacted almost instantly, returning the kiss as her hands pressed against his chest. Matthew only groaned, coaxing her lips open to delve further into her mouth with his tongue, exploring her mouth. It earned him a needy whine as Dakota finally began to open her eyes. The sight before her was enough to startle the woman, breaking the kiss instantly and crying out until she took notice of the markings on the Irken’s arms. ”Matthew?” She breathed, feeling his lips attack her neck now. She squirmed in his grasp, gasping out as he lightly bit her neck and sucked at the flesh.

 

”M-Matthew!” Dakota whined, torn between stopping him and letting him continue. She’d be lying to herself if she wasn't the least bit curious, ever since he confessed his true feelings and kissed her on that space station. Matthew might have taken care of her since she was eighteen but he was also a man. A well built and handsome man that could easily tear someone apart.

 

But what about Jinx? Asked a faint voice in her mind. Jinx was her dream come true. Jinx made her feel alive and did the impossible for her. Jinx meant the world to her.

 

Only, Matthew would move planets for her, he’d set the world on fire for her. He protected her and kept her safe. He--

 

Dakota cried out, her cheeks burning as she felt fingers teasing between her legs. She just remembered that she was only in a dress and nothing else. Feeling his fingers brush against her private area made her whimper and moan, knowing all too well that she was getting wet from his touch. His fingers eventually delved into her folds, his thumb expertly massaging her clit. Dakota moaned again and found Matthew’s mouth, whimpering into him as he explored her lower body. Somewhere in between his sucking at her neck and fingering her he had settled on top of her, still looking like his Irken counterpart, his other hand moving to find her breast before his mouth moved down to bite and suckle at her exposed nipple. He attacked her body like he hungered for it, manipulating her with expert hands and a greedy mouth that had her reacting beautifully to his ministrations. Eventually his mouth left her exposed breasts and he finally pulled his fingers free, earning a pained whine from his lover as he spread her legs before him.

 

“I’ve wanted to do this for so long.” He mumbled loud enough for her to hear before dipping down to taste her. Dakota gasped, her hands gripping the bedsheets as he began eating her out. She was losing the ability to think, crying out every time his tongue went in the right place and unable to keep herself from clamping her thighs around his head. He was holding onto those thighs, licking her in long, slow strokes and sucking her clit teasingly, roughly pulling her further down so he could delve in deeper. Dakota’s brain was on the way to becoming just a puddle, unable to close her eyes while she watched him. He would look up at her every now and then, his icy gaze piercing her own green eyes, the disguise flickering in and out and showing Her Matthew, the animalistic hunger within those eyes of his as he partook onto the best meal in the galaxy. It wasn’t long until Dakota eventually came, screaming his name as loud as she could as the orgasm wracked through her spine and flickered through her nerves, feeling them pulse around her body as soon as she fell down from her high.

 

Matthew finally pulled himself forward so he could kiss Dakota greedily, the woman tasting herself on his lips but not even caring. She was alight with desire and didn’t want this to end--

 

Until she caught sight of his undisguised hand.

 

Reality came crashing down onto her and she grasped his hand, staring at the area where the pinky finger should be. “Your fingers--”

 

Matthew didn’t see a problem with it, nosing her neck and sighing. “I hardly know it’s gone.” He murmured against her skin. Dakota could feel his erection brushing against her thighs, bringing her back to what was happening, finally taking a look at him. He wasn’t wearing anything but silk robes, there was practically nothing else in between them.

 

“Please,” Matthew whispered into her ear, pleading. Dakota knew what he wanted and sighed, moving her hands to cup either side of his cheeks so she could kiss him deeply. The sight of his missing fingers had derailed her enough but Matthew’s body heat was able to pull her back under, feeling more than just his heat between her legs, teasing at her opening and feeling the cold feeling of metal brush against her clit. She gasped, remembering Dib mentioning the piercing long before now.

 

Matthew’s pupils were blown wide and all he could feel was her heat inviting him inside. Fortunately, she was wet enough for him to guide himself into her without a problem. Her body reacted to his thick phallus sliding into her, making them fit together like a puzzle she had no idea existed. Dakota whimpered loudly and hooked her arms around his neck, pulling him back into another desperate kiss. This was the first time feeling him inside of her, and she didn’t expect him to stretch her out so much. Matthew was also in his own little state of shock and awe, realizing that this is something he waited for almost eight years. They didn’t move for what felt like hours, just memorizing the feeling of themselves joined together until Matthew couldn’t take it anymore, finally starting to move against her.

 

His thrusts began to elicit throaty moans from her own mouth, the woman still grasping him as their eyes never left each other. It wasn’t something Dakota could shut her eyes to, her own gaze pinned by his penetrating stare. She could feel his passion, the culmination of want and need into this very act in itself. He didn’t just fuck her, there wasn’t fucking involved. He was exploring her and doing what he always wanted to do, make love to this beautiful woman underneath him. A woman that he protected ever since she was young, a woman that captured his heart without him even realizing it before it was too late. A woman that he has done everything for, going so far as to risk his life to save.

 

At the same time he was also laying his claim over her. He was making sure that he was ingrained into her body. He wanted to make it so that no one else would feel as good as they did right now. He didn’t care if he had to do it again and again, he would make sure that only he could create such pleasant and needy cries from her mouth. He wanted to make sure that her body belonged to him.

 

It was strange, the warring mindset that was culminating inside his brain. He wanted to both love and possess her, he wanted her unconditional devotion and her submission. He wanted two vastly opposite things that could only be brought on by desire and craving. He craved her, he craved every little bit of her. He should have been more concerned about this new craving, this otherworldly need to have her full submission, but it didn’t seem to bother him at all. In fact, he became drunk on it. Drunk on the power and the satisfaction it brought when she could breathe his name over and over again like a prayer.

 

Dakota was drowning, unable to remember feeling this way. He was passionate and careful at the same time. Rough and demanding while sweet and caring. He was like a war of two mindsets that overwhelmed every part of her senses and she couldn’t help but allow herself to be swept away by his newly possessive nature. The more passionate he was the more intense his thrusts had become, growing and growing until Dakota was screaming, her body on fire with pleasure and need.

 

“Matthew!” Dakota cried yet again, grasping him as a shudder wracked through her. Matthew dipped down to kiss her, a dominating and controlling kiss that had her whimpering into his mouth.

 

“Call me your Tallest.” He demanded as soon as he broke it off, watching as Dakota’s eyes went wide briefly until another thrust had her crying out again.

 

“My--my what?” Confusion etched her features until another wave of pleasure slammed into her. She was too close to think about it.

 

Matthew kissed her again, “Just this once.” He whispered breathily, knowing how close she was just by looking at her. He decided to let go right then, the intensity of his thrusts reaching a peak as his primal nature took over, and soon Dakota was seeing stars.

 

“Matthew--Matthew--MY TALLEST!”

 

It was just the words he needed and Matthew found himself riding his own orgasm as Dakota was screaming out hers, and Dakota found herself in Matthew’s arms as he fell onto his side, feeling his twitching member still tucked deep inside of her and the warmth that it brought. She let him cradle her in his arms, too tired to move away and too content to think.

 

The fact that he told her to call him her Tallest should be more of a concern, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.

Chapter Text

CRASH!

 

BANG!

 

“Ehehehe!”

 

“WHEEEE!”

 

SHATTER!

 

Jinx snarled at the three Vortian children as they raged through the control room. “SIT BACK DOWN RIGHT NOW!”

 

“You’re not my dad!” Cried Veem.

 

“Your head is big.” Smoofy said to Dib as the man begrudgingly flew the ship.

 

Bruk was too busy screaming, all three children plus the raging screams from Jinx were slowly getting on Dib’s nerves. They had long since gotten the coordinates to Retristé but they just didn’t expect to have to deal with…

 

this.

 

“They weren’t like this two hours ago!” Dib cried out, glaring at Jinx. “What the fuck did you feed them?”

 

“I fed them what we have!” Jinx scowled, about to pull out his antennae, “I made some of that freeze-dried meat and I brewed them that goopy black stuff Dakota liked so much--”

 

“What goopy black stuff?” Dib snapped his head over to Jinx, his eyes wide, “You gave them COFFEE?” His voice went up a few octaves, and suddenly their sudden hyperactive attitudes had clicked. “You’re not supposed to give children coffee you complete idiot!”

 

Jinx went to yell at the children again before looking back at him, “Why the fuck not? They seemed to like it!”

 

“COFFEE IS A STIMULANT! IT HAS CAFFEINE!” He screamed, “You fed them the coffee that my father uses! It has double the caffeine!” He slammed his fist onto the console and got up. “Take over the fucking ship.” Dib left the chair then to collect all three of the children. It went against everything he believed in but he had to lock the little Vortians inside a room until they dropped like bags of rice.

 

He made sure to pick Jinx’s room to lock them all inside. His eye twitched after the door shut, hearing something break and shatter and loud thumping on the walls. “I’m never having kids.” He mumbled to himself, finally returning to the control room. “Alright, we’re going to have a long talk about what not to give to children .” Dib said to Jinx, glaring at him. “Just to get it out of the way, you don’t give them Matthew’s whiskey either.”

 

“Oh they didn’t like the whiskey.” Jinx said it as it was obvious, and Dib slapped his hand over his face.

 

THUD!

 

“I didn’t mean it like that .” He moaned, sinking into his seat. “Alcohol and caffeine are bad for children!”

 

CRASH!

 

“I think this can be a learning experience.” Jinx replied smoothly, “Next time, when it comes to feeding the smeets, I’ll fly the ship.”

 

Dib glared at him, growling.

 

“Approaching the western border!” The computer announced overhead, which seemed to be the only thing Dib was looking forward on hearing. His brown eyes lit up and a smile appeared on his face.

 

“We’re almost there!” He sounded elated. “Thank you again, computer!”

 

“Commander Dib, if I may,” The computer spoke up again, pausing for a moment, “You are by far the smartest one I had to work with, and you can’t BELIEVE how happy that makes me.”

 

Jinx frowned and folded his arms, “What about me? He’s not the only one here.”

 

There was a silent pause, and then “My statement still stands.”

 

“Well fuck you too!” Jinx cried out while Dib began to laugh. The Irken eyed Dib wearily and muttered something under his breath, sitting away from the human.

 

Dib smiled anyway, spotting the red planet in the distance. “That must be Retristé.” He kept staring at it, noting now...small it was. “I expected something bigger.”

 

“The Renegade created that planet out of a dying star.” Jinx said after enough sulking. “Word is he bought it with money he stole from people he killed.”

 

A shiver went up Dib’s spine. “Domino…is he really dangerous?”

 

“Domino is as dangerous as I am. Tallest-ranked Irkens are the best of the best, human. We’ve been through the Armada and have been Elite. Though, once you become Tallest-Elect, your training falls by the wayside. Domino didn’t allow that to happen, he still trained to keep himself as deadly as possible.” Jinx smirked, “Computer, bring up whatever information you have on The Renegade Tallest.”

 

“Processing!”

 

The display screen began to be littered with windows, all in Irken writing, joined with an odd assortment of pictures. The first one that stood out was a frightening Irken with dark violet eyes that were narrowed dangerously, wearing purple and gold robes that were splattered with blood. He stood poised to fight, holding a dripping dagger in one hand as his other was brought to his mouth, his tongue licking off the blood from his claws. His antennae were jagged with two demure curves at the ends and heavy black markings (tattoos?) covered his biceps. There was no mistaking how deadly he looked.

 

Dib’s heartbeat raced at the sight of him, unable to look away from the image. “Domino…” He mouthed.

 

Jinx didn’t look so impressed, dismissing the image (much to Dib’s displeasure) and bringing up the dossier. “He’s a universal name. Everyone knows who Domino is, and everyone knows what he does. He is not only wanted by the Empire, but every alien mafia family out there. He’s rumored to be the real leader of the Resisty, not just the financial backer. Every alien that goes to him for assistance are mostly fugitives or former slaves, and he takes them under his wing and trains them how to fight.” Jinx realized that Dib was highly invested in what Jinx had to say, chuckling. “Word is that he employs a cannibal as his personal bodyguard. An Irken that is known as the Crazed.”

 

Dib blinked owlishly. “The Crazed?”

 

“Crux.” Jinx pulled up another picture, one of Domino, a scarred red-eyed Irken that was shirtless with no shoes and a pink-eyed Vortian with a gun strapped to her back. “Not much is known about Crux, only that he went crazy in Elite training and ate his commanding officer after killing his entire squadron. He was on the run when he met Domino, and ever since he’s been Domino’s bodyguard, not that he needs it .” He snorted, “The pink-eyed Vortian beside him is Zet. She used to be an Antemp arms dealer that supplied to whoever needed her weapons. She creates them herself. She and Domino are close, but no one knows how and why. Rumors are that she’s his lover.”

 

Something about that made Dib’s eyes tear away from the impressive Irken, but after a moment he returned his gaze. “What is Antemp?”

 

“Anti-Empire. They have their own language, they have their own code. It began long before Domino entered the picture, but he helped it spread.” Jinx sat back, a contemplative look on his face. “I’m not sure on how they’ll greet us. I’m the Betrayer, everyone knows what I’ve done, but everyone knows it wasn’t against the Empire.”

 

Dib shook his head, “We have Prisoner 777’s children with us. If that’s not a sign of good will then I don’t know what is.” He fell silent after that, listening for any signs of noise. He slowly got up and headed over to Jinx’s room, slowly opening the door. On the bed were the three Vortian children, dead asleep. One of them was hugging a plush toy of GIR with the head torn off. The sight made Dib smile slightly, shutting the door so he could return to his seat.

 

Jinx watched him, his antennae twitching. “Remind me never to have smeets.”

 

Dib snorted in amusement. “You’re sterilized.”

 

“I could reverse it if I wanted to.” The Irken shrugged, “Perhaps I should have done so...then Dakota wouldn’t have risked her life to save that human waste-bucket.” His forehead wrinkled at the thought and he looked away from the screen, seemingly in his own world.

 

Dib quietly understood what Jinx had meant, realizing that the animosity between Jinx and Matthew was still strong. He hated to think how they’d be once the four of them were together again. He sighed, because he too missed Matthew. The man was the closest thing he ever had to a friend in his entire life, save for Zim.

 

He just hoped that Matthew wasn’t putting himself in any danger.

 

“Approaching Retristé.” The computer announced. Both of their eyes went to the window, the information and photos were now gone and Retristé was in sight. The planet wasn’t as small as Dib thought, but enough of a size to house a good portion of aliens. There were makeshift buildings surrounding the inner city, looking like a dirty slum overwhelming cleaner, more normal buildings. In the center was a crowd of larger buildings, each lit up with neon signs, but the one that was the focus was brighter than the rest. A magenta building that wasn’t as big, but wide and quite imposing. The sign was blinking, a martini drink followed by letters that were neither English or Irken.

 

“That’s The Kasbah.” Jinx set them down onto a parking lot structure off to the side, both of them getting up. “You go on ahead, I’ll wrangle up the smeets.” Jinx told him, heading to the back.

 

Dib went to the door and just stood there, looking along the red planet. He didn’t even know where to go, but for some reason, his eyes trailed over to the magenta building, The Kasbah, as if beckoning him to head over to it. He swallowed thickly and descended the steps, taking a cautious look back at the ship before making his way towards the single building. The windows were glowing a deep red and there was a single Irken outside the door, dressed in nothing but black pants, sitting on a stool with one leg folded under himself. He wasn’t even paying attention to Dib, just picking at his claws distractedly. Dib soon realized who that Irken was that was sitting there, a cold chill running down his spine.

 

If that was Him, then this building was the right one…

 

Dib took great caution the closer he stepped towards the building, hoping that The Crazed didn’t notice him but his footfalls were enough to perk interest in the Irken, the blood-red eyes gazing onto Dib as his jagged teeth formed a cruel grin.

 

“You’re a different one.” He purred, taking amusement in how frightened Dib looked. “If yeh lookin’ for the Boss, he’s right inside.” Crux reached over to the door and opened it for Dib, waiting.

 

Dib realized he was staring too much and quickly nodded, darting into the establishment. He didn’t expect what he was walking in on. The red lighting assaulted his senses coupled with sultry, slow techno music and the sight of aliens everywhere. Some were sitting at tables, others were serving those who sat. There was a stage on the far left with poles that aliens slid from and to the far right was a bar. Overhead on the second floor was a set of doors, along with a balcony that was accessed behind the bar. Next to those stairs was an elevator, leading up to a large pane of glass that looked to be a one-way mirror.

 

This place was a sex club.

 

Dib tried to fight the wave of nervousness that hit him, his eyes roaming the floor looking for someone to talk to. He found her at the bar, mixing drinks with a gun strapped to her back. Zet, he surmised. He walked over to the bar, his legs feeling weak and wobbly before sitting down, watching the pink-eyed Vortian work.

 

Zeitya was busy making the drink for her customer, pulling on a smile. “Just a moment hun’, I’ll take your order in a sec.” She told him, and Dib blinked. He was able to understand her. Though, it was logical for her to have a translator, with all these aliens in the establishment, they needed to be able to understand each and every one of them.

 

Dib’s mouth suddenly felt dry. This was Domino’s…

 

Zetiya rested her elbows in front of Dib and winked at him, “What can I get’cha hun? You’re new here, are ya?”

 

Dib opened his mouth and shut it, trying to form a coherent sentence. “Z-Zet?”

 

The female grinned, “That be me, but everyone calls me Zetiya. Is there something you need?”

 

“Um...some water if you have it.” He mumbled, suddenly losing whatever confidence he had.

 

“Water...water...non-alcoholic liquid.” She surmised, taking a glass and pouring something translucent, setting it on the counter in front of him. “Anythin’ else, cutie?”

 

Dib took the glass greedily, moving to down a few gulps before steeling himself, “I--I need to talk to Domino, if it’s okay.”

 

Zetiya eyed Dib wearily, as if sizing him up. “Who do I say is calling?” She questioned, her flirtatious attitude gone.

 

“I’m Dib.” He explained, slowly losing his nervousness. “I come from Earth, and I have an Irken with me. You might know him. Jinx--”

 

“The Betrayer.” Zetiya said in a harsh tone, narrowing her eyes. “What is the Betrayer doing on Retristé?”

 

“It-It-it--it’s a long story--but we need Domino’s--”

 

The front door burst open to children screaming, collars strapped to their necks as Jinx held their leashes. Behind him was Crux, holding a knife to Jinx’s throat. “Zet, we need Dom down here right now!” The scarred Irken snarled out.

 

Zetiya’s eyes widened, mostly on the children that were trying to escape. “Those are--” She suddenly puvalted over the bar and headed towards the children, all three of them stopping and staring at Zetiya.

 

“Aunt Zetty!” They all cried out, reaching for her.

 

Dib watched, dumbstruck, as Zetiya hurried over to the children and embraced them. Everyone in the entire room had been brought to a standstill at the sight of the Betrayer with three Vortian children.

 

“You should let ‘em go now.” Crux instructed to Jinx, and the Irken let go of the leashes.

 

Dib finally heard the elevator whirr, and he directed his attention to the double doors. His breath caught in his throat when they opened, presenting to him the eight foot tall Irken with a presence that commanded attention.

 

The Renegade Tallest.

 

Domino.

 

“What the FUCK is going on down here?” His voice was a dark baritone, reverberating into Dib’s ears and spreading through his body. He felt his heartbeat quickening again, speechless as the Irken made his way over to the middle of the room.

 

Domino’s eyes directed themselves to the Betrayer first and foremost. “Never thought you would step foot on an Antemp planet, Jinx.” He commented smoothly, eyeing the knife pressed to his throat. “Put your knife away, Crux.” He waved his hand.

 

When Crux obeyed so quickly and easily, Dib was astounded, and he took that glass of water again to chug the rest of it, wettening his dry throat and getting up quickly to join the rest of them.

 

“Jinx is with me.” Dib said in a strong voice, calling on his commanding persona for the sake of speaking to the taller Irken. “We’ve come all the way here from Earth, there’s a big problem that needs your assistance.”

 

Domino turned towards the voice and caught sight of Dib, looking over the man and stopping at the hair-scythe atop his head. “You’re a human.” He stated, looking slightly interested. “How did you find us?”

 

Dib nodded, trying to endure his burning gaze. “We got the coordinates from Prisoner 777.” Once he said it Zetiya’s attention went to him. “He provided the information once we rescued his children in his stead.”

 

“Auntie it was great!” Smoofy beamed. “They came to Foodcourtia and rescued us!”

 

“Uncle Jinx made the restaurant explode and he took us away!” Veem grinned.

 

Zeitya nodded absently, watching Dib. “So they did…” She said slowly, gathering them up and finally standing. “If the Betrayer had done this much, I believe we have the right to hear him out, Dom.” She said in a strong voice.

 

Domino was still watching Dib, appraising him and considering the offer. “As of now both of them are disrupting my business hours.” He snapped his fingers, Dib seeing that he still had all three of them, and pointed to the elevator. “Crux, send them both up to my office, Zet, take those smeets down to see Adon. This isn’t a place for younglings.”

 

“But we wanna stay!” Bruk whined.

 

Zetiya shook her head as the children cried, “Now, now, Uncle Dom’s right, you’ll be safer with Adon. He’s a doctor.” She smiled widely at them, “If you’re extra good I’ll take you to see your Cousin Nar.”

 

The three of them looked excited at that, nodding enthusiastically before Zetiya took them out of the establishment.

 

Dib looked over at Crux, still slightly intimidated by the crazed Irken. The male waited for Dib to join him, shoving Jinx forward towards the elevator. “No sudden movements, darlin’.”

 

When the three of them were gone into the elevator Domino put his hands on his hips, gazing around the club. “I’m offering free drinks for an hour to those affected by our interruption.” He told his patrons, “Now let’s resume what we were doing.”

 

The crowd cheered and Dayju hurried up to the bar to take over while Zetiya was away, the smaller Irken grinning as a crowd formed. “Choose wisely, fellas.”

 

Domino watched the scene for a moment longer before nodding to himself, heading back into the elevator.

 

The elevator went straight into a private hallway, the main door leading into his office. It was a large room that also doubled as his quarters, and Dib couldn’t help but stare at the large luxurious bed far off into the right. Crux was perched on Domino’s desk, watching the two of them like a vulture until Domino came through the door. Jinx was already settled in Domino’s office chair, something that Crux allowed just for shits and giggles.

 

Domino stared at Jinx, watching him preen himself as if he was on a throne. “Get the fuck out of my chair.”

 

Crux snorted in amusement when Jinx finally got to his feet, glaring at Domino just slightly as he returned to the couch that Dib was settled in. He noticed that Dib couldn’t take his eyes off of Domino, smirking to himself but saying nothing.

 

“I would love a nice story as to why both of you have come to my planet.” Domino began, going back to his desk and sitting in the chair. “No one comes to me unless it’s for a favor.” He looked from Jinx to Dib, “Since you’ve rescued one of my own’s kin, you deserve a chance to explain yourselves.” He looked at Crux, “You may go now.”

 

Crux got off of the desk and grinned, “I’ll be outside if ya need me, Boss.” He went back out into the hall, settling himself next to the door.

 

Dib breathed a sigh of relief when Crux had left, something Domino had noticed. The Irken smirked at him knowingly. “You’re perfectly safe, human. Crux only kills on my command.”

 

Dib’s heart hammered, wondering just how Domino earned the loyalty of a crazed murderer. He nodded slowly and tried not to fidget. He realized then that he wasn’t anything like his father. While Membrane was able to command forces and be a diplomat for world leaders, Dib didn’t possess the same commanding prowess that made his father a legend. Domino, however, held power. He was much better than his father in the way that his mere presence emanated authority. He might not have been a Tallest in the Empire, but he had been trained to be one. Just one look sent chills down Dib’s spine and his heart thunder in his chest.

 

It was strangely alluring.

 

Jinx cleared his throat after a moment and Dib suddenly realized he had been lost in his own thoughts. His cheeks burned slightly and the man took a breath. “There used to be four of us. Me, Jinx, Dakota, and Matthew. We met under strange circumstances. Matthew contacted me because I was the only human on Earth that knew about Irkens, and he asked for my help because he ,” Dib gestured to Jinx, “stole away Dakota. Dakota, it turns out, she is a Meekrob hybrid and has special powers that my father tried to stifle, and Matthew used to be one of my father’s experiments. He has Irken blood in his veins.”

 

Domino quirked an antennae, staying quiet.

 

“Well, my father is like...almost the ruler of Earth, so he made sure we were to leave the planet because Matthew was too aggressive, and Dakota was a ticking time-bomb. Jinx was being hunted down by the Empire and my dad--and my sister, didn’t want to put Earth in danger. We decided to leave and make our way here, to offer our services.” He got up so he could pace. “We weren’t even gone for a day and Irken Hunter Jets came to stop our ship, and while they were looking for Jinx they scanned Matthew’s pack, and apparently because he had Irken genetics they decided to take him to be a Tallest. Dakota was used as collateral when he refused, and both of them were taken.” He stopped at the desk, placing his hands on the surface. “We’re here now because the Empire has our friends. We want to rescue them from the Empire, because if they find out Dakota’s a Meekrob then they’re going to use her for experiments, and she’s already been through enough of that.” His face softened, and he looked pleadingly into Domino’s eyes, “We need your help.”

 

Domino stayed quiet for a while, considering everything Dib had told him. He silently got to his feet and went over to the small bar in his office, pouring three glasses of liquor. He handed one of them to Jinx and went back to slide Dib his own glass.

 

“You...have given me something that I wanted to know.” Domino took a sip out of his own glass. “A new Tallest was coronated earlier and our informants tell us that he’s a human. We wondered just how a human with Irken biology came to exist, and now you’ve given me a reason. Tallest Matt-hew’s an experiment.”

 

Dib didn’t drink from his glass, watching Domino, “My father did a full blood transfusion on him when he was younger, along with many other men that was in his squadron. He’s the only one that survived it. Matthew’s the only human that’s more aggressive than the rest of them and can heal quickly.”

 

Domino nodded quietly, “Irken blood is fickle. You can’t just use it as a weapon, either it will accept the foreign host or reject it. They had done the exact same experiment while I was a Tallest-Elect. Most often than not, those with Irken blood end up dying either by aggression or by their own stupidity. Matt-hew sounds like an anomaly, and if that Irken detected more than Irken blood in his body, than his human cells have been slowly adapting to further support his blood. Now, help me out here.” He lowered his drink and narrowed his eyes at Dib, “How the fuck did this human end up with a pack?”

 

Dib’s breath caught in his throat and he backed away from the desk, feeling his throat dry again. The nervousness was back and all he could do was take the liquor that was offered. He regretted drinking it right away, the taste making his face contort while the heat plummeted into his stomach. The only relief it brought was how the liquor diminished his nerves. “Well…” He stepped away again, weary of Domino’s glare. “It’s a funny story…”

 

“That idiot kept a dead Irken’s pack in his room and it latched onto the human once he was asleep.” Jinx said it before he could, deadpanned and blunt while pointing a finger at Dib. The man in question jumped in his spot, backing up as Domino finally set down his drink to advance onto Dib.

 

“You kept a dead Irken’s pack?” His antennae twitched. “I assumed you were intelligent, now I’m not so sure.”

 

“Zim was dead ! How was I supposed to know that his pack wasn’t?” Dib cried out. The statement seemed to have struck Domino.

 

“That is the Exile’s pack?” He shouted, turning away to take in this new information. “ Vort meh gargh! ” He scowled.

 

“W-what?” Dib looked over at Jinx, confused.

 

“It’s a Vortian curse.” Jinx commented, sitting back like he was watching a show. Dib looked pissed off at Jinx’s casual attitude towards this whole situation.

 

“Can you be a little more active?” Dib glared at the Irken, “You’re here because of Dakota, remember?”

 

Jinx smiled, “I remember, but watching you deal with the Renegade is a lot more enjoyable.”

 

Dib flipped him off, only to realize that Domino was staring at him again. He put his hand away quickly, his attention back onto the ex-Tallest.

 

Domino had calmed down some, sighing and emptying the rest of his glass. “I realize that you’re a human, and so you didn’t know the intricacies of Irken technology.”

 

“Actually,” Jinx spoke up, and Dib’s head snapped over to the red-eyed Irken. The grin on Jinx’s face didn’t lessen. “That same pack attached itself to him before, when he was younger.”

 

Dib made a strangled noise and looked back at Domino, only to see him looking down at him as if his opinion of Dib had dropped to a new low. His gut churned from that look, and he didn’t exactly understand why.

 

Either way, Jinx deserved to be kicked in the squeedily-spooch.

 

Domino finally looked away from Dib, going back to his thoughts. He now knew what they were dealing with. Just how they found the Human-Irken hybrid and why. Though, there was a great chance that the Control Brains have already scanned Matthew and overlooked everything he knew, and quite possibly, discovering what this Meekrob female was. Their positions inside the Massive were definitely under strict surveillance. No one wanted to lose another Tallest when they had just finally found one after months without. It made Dib’s request a hard one to take on. Infiltrating the Massive wasn’t as easy as it sounded, and even the ones he set up to spy from the inside were living out their lives in fear that they might be caught.

 

He’d have to take this one to his subordinates, gather their input and form a possible plan of action. This wasn’t something that could happen overnight.

 

Though the longer this Matthew stays under the Empire’s influence, the worse it will be to take him back out of it.

 

Domino returned his eyes onto Dib. “I have bad news for you. We can help you, but--” He held his hand up at the human’s smile, “--it won’t be an instant task. Something this important needs the asset of time, you will be forced to hold off without acting until we figure out the best plan of action. As that female is a Meekrob hybrid, this task takes precedence over anything else. However, if what you say is true, then I believe, and so do my subordinates, that your Matt-hew has already been compromised.” As he said it Dib’s eyes widened. Domino began to pace.

 

“There is a strong chance that your friend had been reprogrammed to fit the Empire’s needs.” He began, “A simple recoding of the pack only changes your rank, but reprogramming is a change of opinion. It was threatened onto me by Red and Purple if I refused to abide by their rules. Reprogramming is only an option if the defective or the traitor is too valuable to delete. It has been done sparingly in the past, and I believe it has been done to Matt-hew.”

 

“T-they--brainwashed him?” Dib’s voice broke, “Can they really do that?”

 

“I’m afraid so. The Control Brains are the real rulers of the Empire. Tallests are just the trained puppets that do all the work, the figureheads that keep their people in line. They will do whatever they can to make sure everything goes their way. It’s only unfortunate that Matt-hew was equipped with a pack to make it happen.”

 

Dib let out a groan as his body began to tremble, “This is my fault.” He breathed, putting his hand to his forehead. “Matthew’s in this because of me.”

 

“Hey.” Jinx finally sat up, glaring at Dib. “Don’t beat yourself up over the most stupid thing you have done. Everyone does stupid things, Dib.” He gestured to himself, “I killed the Tallests without taking every precaution imaginable, that itself was the stupidest thing I could ever do. I don’t beat myself up over it, do I? No. I fucking continue with this twisted path I’ve been given.” He stood up then, “What we’re going to do is find a way to get that asshole and my property back, and I won’t stop until she’s back in my hands.”

 

Dib couldn’t help but scoff lightly, it was the first time the Irken ever said his name or even defended him for his mistake. It was weird to listen to, but helpful nonetheless.

 

Domino quirked a non-existent brow, “Property. The female?”

 

“It’s how this mess got started.” Dib bemoaned, “Dakota got a tattoo of the Invader Class Symbol on the back of her neck and Jinx claimed her as his. He’s the reason we’re all in this mess.”

 

Domino stared at Jinx for a while, listless, watching the other Irken shrug helplessly and smile at him. “Irken Law.” He said defensively.

 

“I’m well aware of what the Irken Law states, Betrayer.”

 

“Well it doesn’t fucking matter anyway.” Jinx’s antennae narrowed, “I would have marked her myself if she didn’t have it. This way it saved me time.”

 

If Domino was rolling his eyes, Dib would have known, the man quirking a small grin at Domino’s silent judgment. Jinx continued to meet his stare until it became too much, and the Irken decided to leave. “I’ll be downstairs if you need me.” He said before leaving, Crux pushing off the wall to follow the other.

 

Dib breathed a sigh of relief when Jinx had finally left, feeling almost tired from the long journey. He was tired but jittery at the same time, though most of it was because of the lone Irken in the room that stared at him thoughtfully.

 

“I...should be going too.” Dib said awkwardly, intending to go back to his ship.

 

Domino blocked his way out suddenly, smiling down at him. “If you’d prefer, I can set you up with a room for you and...the other one.” He said the last three words with disdain.

 

Dib blinked, not expecting him to make such a gesture. “Are you sure? We might cause a distraction…”

 

“You’re an Antemp just like the rest of us, human. I offer anyone in the resistance room and board, all you need to do is earn your keep.”

 

The suggestion made Dib grimace, quirking a brow at Domino, “I’m not going to become one of your dancers--”

 

He was interrupted by a loud laugh, one that twisted around Dib’s spine and sunk in like a cold but welcoming chill. Domino looked purely amused by the accusation, shaking his head. “Not everyone here is an entertainer...Dib, is it?” He rolled his name around on his serpentine tongue, enjoying how it sounded. Dib could only watch, flushed just slightly and enjoying how Domino uttered it, wishing he could do it again.

 

Domino reached down to grasp the other’s hand, raising it up until the sleeve of his trenchcoat lowered and exposed the Irken tattoo on his wrist. “I’d keep that hidden if I were you.” He grinned. Dib’s eyes widened and he yanked his hand back, covering his wrist with his other hand.

 

“How-how did--?”

 

Domino let out a chuckle, “I caught it as you were making a rude gesture to your ‘friend’. He smiled then, something that didn’t look warm and inviting but dark and full of dangerous promises. “Just be happy I don’t follow Irken Law, Dib .”

 

When the Irken finally stepped away Dib got out as fast as possible, shutting the door behind him and leaning against it, breathing heavily. His heart was pounding and his legs felt almost like jelly. He uncovered his wrist, looking back at the tattoo.

 

Part of him wished that Domino did.

Chapter Text

Dakota was suspect that something was off with Matthew. Outside of their alone-time together, he took on a nearly different mindset. He was actually being a leader, taking upon this new Tallest role as if he was made for it. It struck her odd as the man had strong views about Irkens in general, not just Jinx, but every single one of them. Here, however, he was civil to them, not hostile. She wanted to think it was his way of pretending so they could stay together, but even in private, he never expressed his hatred of the race like he used to.

 

Something about it, though, the way Matthew was so commanding, such a domineering presence before the Irkens under him, it was like another side of Matthew she never witnessed before. She wondered if he was like this back in the Marines, because she knew he was a soldier at one point in his life. He was a fearless dignitary, looking more imposing in his Irken disguise while he took care of the jobs a Tallest would perform.

 

She decided to take this time in the Massive as another learning experience to the secret world of the Irken Empire, watching him as he conversed with his subordinates and made orders to be carried. She was learning more about what it meant to be a Tallest than the show ever provided, and she began to realize that the former Tallests weren’t as stupid as the show made them to be. Lazy, perhaps, but not stupid. She was at Matthew’s side for almost everything, although under the stipulation that her hair was put up to display her tattoo, alerting the rest of the Irkens that she wasn’t to be touched. That was another thing about Matthew that she noticed, he had become a lot more possessive of her than he normally was.

 

Honestly, her emotions on Matthew’s sudden possessive nature were mixed. She was used to it when Jinx would state many times that she belonged to him, and when he often expressed it through more intimate means… but Matthew… Matthew took it to another level, one that made her breathless and without words. It was different because between Matthew and Jinx, it was Matthew who was the emotional one, more full of romanticism like a high school English teacher should be. He expressed himself in earnest, while Jinx was a primal force that thrived only on obsession. Jinx had no human emotions, it was very clear from the start, things such as love and empathy were completely unknown to him.

 

Now, she was being introduced to a culmination of the two. A romantic Human with Irken passion, the need for possession and submission as well as the need for love and understanding. It was an assault to the senses, something that she couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with. He made love to her with an animalistic hunger, but he never forgot to remind her how much he cherished her.

 

Dakota wondered if it was the influence of the Irken pack on him, or at least the Irken blood running through his veins. It could possibly be both, and it made her worried. She missed Matthew, the protective and sensitive man that cared for her unconditionally, always coming to her rescue and treating her with the utmost care and respect. It wasn’t like he was losing any of that now, but it was becoming muddled with the primary Irken emotions; want, need, dominance, greed, lust.

 

She allowed herself to be taken away by the wild and passionate hunger that was trying to devour her entire being, but as time passed, the Matthew she knew was slowly being taken over by something new and frightening, a Matthew that embraced his aggression and was becoming a ruthless and bloodthirsty leader.

 

She was afraid that it was consuming her as much as it was consuming him.

 

The one growing difference Dakota took notice above all others was Matthew’s language. Before they have gotten to the Massive, he had no idea about the Irken language, what it sounded like, what it meant, how to read it. After coming back from the Control Brains, however, she was a witness to a dazzling new discovery.

 

The Irken language coming from his mouth was...distracting. She found herself listening intently as he spoke to all other Irkens in the language, and even if all the Irkens were equipped with Translators, she was the only one without. It sounded…

 

She couldn’t describe how it sounded, or why she was so fascinated with it. The metallic voices from the Irkens with their hisses and clicks sounded a certain way but with Matthew’s voice it was spectacularly different. She often found herself getting carried away by that voice, with the tone and inflections behind every broken syllable. He spoke the language as if he had known it his whole life.

 

It was reminiscent of her days in high school, her younger self taking Mr. Drake’s AP English courses and finding herself staring off into the distance as she became distracted with whatever he was lecturing about. Whether it would be a concept or an excerpt of a Shakesperian play. She often became so immersed in his tone of voice, the inflections and drawl, his Eastern dialect that was nearly invisible yet prominent. He was born in the Bronx, and it was clearly evident despite how faded his accent had become.

 

The memory made her cheeks pink slightly, and she shook herself out of her daze while the captains of the Armada were also listening to their Tallest speak. Matthew was still in his Irken disguise, he always turned it on when they were outside of their chambers. He looked striking as an Irken. She couldn’t deny the attraction that she felt when he looked Irken. She wondered if she was slightly biased when it came to aliens, Irkens in general. She was attracted to them differently, like a moth to a flame. It explained her sick sexual fascination with Jinx that took precedence over her life. The tattoos covering Matthew’s “Irken” arms were a nice touch.

 

She realized then that she had been staring too long at Matthew, catching him looking her way. She quirked a small smile, catching him grin at her.

 

“I believe we’re finished.” He announced to the rest of the soldiers, standing from his placing and extending his hand out to Dakota. She looked down at it and took note of the two fingers, remembering he now had four. He wasn’t even bothered by it…

 

Dakota took his hand and allowed him to lead her out, her own presence as striking as his own, her dress had been replaced by now with something black, to match his armor. By now everyone knew about Tallest Matt-hew’s mate, his human prize that he kept within his sight. A human female that wasn’t as primitive as her species was claimed to be. 

 

He brought his arm around her waist as he led her to the cafeteria. “What do you feel like eating?”

 

Dakota thought about that. It was another discovery, that the junk food, snacks and all-around sugary products weren’t the only thing they cooked in the Massive, yet the food had a strange effect due to how sweet it was, her mind recalling the pineapples that Jinx demanded to be put on the ship. Matthew seemed to like the change, too.

 

“Noodles.” She said after a thought, smiling up at him.

 

They sat down in the special VIP section of the cafeteria, seating that was only meant for the Tallests, or in their case, the Tallest and his mate. Dakota sighed, wondering how long she was going to have to pretend she was Matthew’s mate. Ever since Matthew told the Bounty Hunter that lie it stuck like glue. They were close, yes, but were they close enough to be considered mates? She never thought about a future with Matthew, although she thought about one with Jinx. Their future was easily foreseeable. She was his captive, he would take her around the universe, they would get in every kind of trouble imaginable and he would make sure everyone knew she was his. When they first met, she never saw herself leaving the planet, and here she was…

 

On a space adventure.

 

Matthew nudged her with his elbow, bringing Dakota back to reality. He was watching her, curious. “You’ve been spacing out all day. What’re you thinking of?”

 

“Jinx.” Dakota said immediately, not noticing the slight agitation that appeared on his features. “Jinx and Dib, really… if they’re close to finding us.”

 

Matthew knew that she’d think about them eventually, but it was still quite bothersome to hear that she was still thinking about him . He casually brushed some hair from her neck and traced nearly faded bite marks with his fingers. “I wouldn’t worry about it.” He told her, “Everything’s going by pretty nicely, why would you want to leave this?”

 

Dakota couldn’t help but shiver slightly at the touch. Those marks were still sensitive. “I would think we’d want to leave eventually, Matthew.” She whispered, “We don’t belong here.”

 

He pulled her into his lap despite her small whines of protest. She didn’t like to be on display as much as he wanted her to be. He went about pressing chaste kisses to her neck. “I would assume you were having fun.” He murmured.

 

She tried her best not to squirm, aware of the eyes around them. “I am having fun, learning about Irkens is pretty interesting from a scientist’s perspective, but it’s not our life.”

 

“What is our life, Dakota? We lost our life when we were forced out of Earth. I don’t really see anything to go back to.” He settled his chin on her shoulder. “We’re being given a second chance at a life, don’t you realize this? I’ve been given a role as a respected and feared leader, and you’re being treated better than you’ve ever been in your life.”

 

Dakota went quiet for a moment, thinking. He was somewhat correct in his statement, but… “What about Everett, Matthew? What about your children? You have a family on Earth. I’d assume you’d want to return to that.”

 

Matthew’s eye twitched at the mention of Everett. “She’s the reason all of this happened, Dakota, I really don’t see myself living my life with a woman who lied to me for eight fucking years.”

 

That had Dakota still, and she shifted in his lap. “W-what do you mean?” She never heard Matthew talk about Everett so negatively.

 

The two of them were silent for a while and Matthew clenched his teeth. This had to come out some time, did it? Dakota didn’t know the full truth about his former wife. “Everett took money from Membrane Labs to keep you drugged up for eight years, she only took you into our home because they bribed her to do it. She knew about everything, Dakota. She lied to the both of us.”

 

It was better to be honest about it, he thought. Rip the band-aid off fast and clean. Perhaps it would work out in his favor. It would take away any need to go back to Earth. Perhaps Dakota would be so sickened by what she heard that she’d accept her new life here. She’d never want to leave his side.

 

Dakota took some time to process what Matthew said, staring at him in stunned silence. Her mouth opened and shut repeatedly before tears began to form in her eyes. Suddenly she shoved herself out of the chair and began to leave.

 

Matthew got up and hurried after her, taking her arm. “Dakota wait--”

 

Dakota yanked her arm away, turning to stare at him pleadingly. “I need time... please .” She begged.

 

He hesitantly let go of her arm, watching as the woman broke out into a run. Matthew sighed, returning to his seat and crossing his legs in thought.

 

It would be a painful process, but it would make her change her mind about leaving.

 



Dakota didn’t really know where she was going but all she knew was that she wanted to be alone. In a place like this, however, it was nearly impossible. She continued her search until she was on another level of the Massive that she wasn’t even familiar with, finding a supply closet that was left open and hiding under the table in the middle of it. She had been crying ever since she left Matthew and now the dam had been broken and she couldn’t hold back the hysterical sobs. She was hurt and betrayed, she was disgusted and miserable. The best friend she made had been a lie, the sweet, caring woman that took care of her like a mother had never existed. Everett was the reason she had been living like a shell for most of her adult life. Everett was the one that allowed her to be so weak.

 

Dakota didn’t know how to deal with this. She wanted to scream and wreck everything in the room, and as if by cue it began to happen, her abilities lashing out because of her grief. Soon glass was shattering and chemicals were starting to drip all around her. Everything inside the room was becoming destroyed from her burst of emotions and she couldn’t bring herself to care. She cried and cried until she was curled up on her side under the table, unable to cry anymore and just staring listlessly at the wall. Around her were shattered remnants of beakers and test tubes, chemicals burning holes into the floor. 

 

Sometime between that and someone shaking her shoulders, she had fallen asleep. The shaking continued and it eventually jarred her awake. Dakota let out a pained whimper, looking up and seeing a small Irken crouched next to her, looking skittish and frightened. His eyes were indescribable under his goggles, and he wore a lab coat instead of a uniform.

 

He breathed out a sigh when Dakota finally woke up, twitching nervously. “Oh good. I thought you might have been--” He looked ill at the thought of the word he would use, deciding not to use it.

 

Dakota finally shifted upright, watching the small Irken and realizing the mess around the room. “I...oh.” She looked away, “I’m sorry for the mess.”

 

The Irken glanced around, his eye twitching, “Nothing that I can’t replace.” He said reassuringly, even if he wasn’t so reassured. “You--you’re Tallest Matt-hew’s mate, yes? Da-ko-ta.”

 

Dakota stilled, remembering Matthew. She whimpered slightly and hung her head. He must be worried sick about her. “I--yes. Dakota is fine.”

 

He looked nervous, “Please don’t tell him I touched you.” He squeaked out, “I don’t want to get deleted.”

 

The Irken’s words sounded so timid and fearful, and Dakota felt a heaviness in her chest. “I won’t say anything...um…”

 

“Khan.” The Irken supplied. “I’m the Head Scientist on the Massive.”

 

She processed the words and looked him over again, smiling slightly. “Good to meet you, Khan. I’m a scientist as well.”

 

The Irken blinked at the admission, staring at her. “R-really? I was told you weren’t primitive, but I never knew you were--”

 

“I don’t really flaunt it.” She said honestly, shifting in her seat. “I’ve been spending my time here studying the Irken race and the Empire itself. It gives me something to do.”

 

“Aside from destroying my supply closet.” Khan added, smiling sheepishly.

 

Dakota went pink, “I said I was sorry!” She cried, regretting it instantly when he winced badly from her shout.

 

“Normally we have a place to take our anger. The Armada has a lot of training rooms set up for Irkens to lash out in. Equipment that isn’t tailored to be destroyed easily in bouts of anger.”

 

She processed the information, nodding quietly and moving to get out from under the table. Khan immediately moved away from her, giving the woman room to stand. When she finally stood up she realized how small he was. He was almost the size of Zim.

 

Khan stared up at her with amazement over her height, nearly jealous but not showing it. “Do you want to come work for me?” He asked suddenly, not realizing what he was asking before the words left his mouth.

 

Dakota paused once he said that, “M-me? Work...here?”

 

He nodded, swallowing thickly. “Scientists are valuable, it doesn’t matter what species. If you’re smart enough to learn quickly then we could use another hand.”

 

“I don’t even know the language!”

 

Khan smiled. “That can be easily fixed, Miss Dakota. I can create something that allows you to translate our language.”

 

The woman stayed quiet for a while, thinking about the offer. After this horrible revelation she didn’t see the need to return to Earth anymore. She couldn’t imagine it. Her entire life was a lie on that planet. She was nothing but an experiment to be played with. Her friends...her family, all of that was gone. The only thing that remained was…

 

Matthew.

 

“I need to find my mate.” She said quietly. “But I’ll think about your offer, okay? I’ll come back.” She stepped towards the door.

 

Khan looked a little worried, “ Please don’t tell him I touched you.”

 

Dakota smiled reassuringly and left the room.

 

Khan suddenly felt the nerves wash away from him and he almost collapsed where he stood, whining and adjusting his goggles. “I hope this works…” He whispered.

 



It had been three hours since Dakota left his side, and Matthew was growing anxious. He made sure to put out a search for her after an hour and a half. It should have been enough time to deal with her emotions. So far there were no signs of her near the shipping docks or the teleporters. He actually feared her trying to leave. It wouldn’t do well for either of them. He needed her and she would be put in danger if she tried to make it out on her own. He didn’t trust anyone else to take care of her, anyone else would just possibly try to do vile, sick things to her.

 

It was okay, though, he had guards on the lookout for her. Once she made her presence known they would contact him and deliver her back to him safely. He sighed, feeling stressed. Maybe telling her the truth so suddenly was a bad decision. Maybe he should have done it in a better setting. Dakota loved Everett, she thought Everett like her mother and a best friend. Their bond was as strong as her and Matthew’s.

 

But Everett had lied to her. She had done it on purpose. She took money to keep her under sedatives. She didn’t give a fuck that Dakota was a special and bright kid who could do just about anything she wanted. She accepted money to keep it a secret from EVERYONE. As far as Matthew knew, Everett could die in a fire. His children had a grandmother, they had two sets of loving grandparents that could care for them. He loathed to think that Abby and Tabby would be caught up in this mess, but hopefully they weren’t as…

 

Matthew felt a pang in his heart. He missed his children. If anything, he missed Abigail and Tabitha, his two punk daughters that he made sure to raise right. Did they miss him too? That Gaz woman told him that he was going on a space adventure, and he was. He could practically imagine their reactions if they knew he’d become the leader of a race of aliens. They would be so excited.

 

But...he couldn’t really go back to see them. Not when he was liable to be captured and possibly experimented on by the Membrane Corporation. He couldn’t really take them away either. Ripping his daughters out of their already settled lives would be unfair to them. They had friends, they had family, and as deplorable as their mother was, they had her . They had futures and goals and just to take them away from Earth for his own selfish needs would lead them to resent him. There wasn’t any proper education in space. They still needed to learn. Earth was their home, as much as the Empire became his.

 

He needed to let them go, didn’t he? All he had now was Dakota, and by hell he wasn’t going to let her go. The second person he has grown to devote himself to. The main reason he had done everything to get to this point. He absolutely cherished her and would do anything for her. If he didn’t have her, he wouldn’t know what to do.

 

His thoughts were soon cut short by a holographic screen coming from his gauntlet. Displayed on it was one of his guards.

 

“We’ve found your mate, my Tallest. Zerk is escorting her back to your rooms as we speak.”

 

Matthew nodded in confirmation, “Good, you may tell the rest of them to resume their usual posts.” After he said that he pressed a button that disconnected them, letting out an exasperated sigh afterwards. She was safe . That’s all he could ever want. He stopped pacing in his room and just stood there, waiting for that door to open. Matthew just hoped that the pain was gone from everything he said to her.

 

After a long stretch the doors finally opened and Dakota was released from the guard’s hold. She hurried inside, stopping at the sight of Matthew and staring at him before breaking into a fresh set of tears, running over to him and throwing herself into his arms.

 

The guard that followed wasn’t shocked by the fact that Matthew wasn’t in his Irken disguise, watching them quietly as his Tallest ran his hand through the female’s hair and whispered reassurances. He then cleared his throat, directing Matthew’s attention past Dakota and to him.

 

“Thank you, Zerk, you may go now.” He dismissed the Irken in a quiet voice, going back to Dakota and holding her tight.

 

“I shouldn’t have ran away.” She said between her tears, “I didn’t think about it and I worried you.”

 

Matthew pat her head, “I understand, kid. You just realized the truth and you needed your alone time. It’s okay, I did the same when I found out.”

 

Dakota wiped a tear from her eye, “How did you find out?”

 

Matthew took her towards the couch and settled onto it, pulling her close. “Dib found your meds and they were created by his father, and when he went to Everett about it she broke down and told us everything.” He pulled a lock of her hair away from her face. “I took it as bad as you did.”

 

Dakota relaxed against him instinctively, shifting in her place and leaned her head against his chest, using her hands as a cushion against the armor. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“There wasn’t really a good time to tell you any of it, Dakota.” He rested a hand on her shoulder and squeezed it consolingly. “I was still in shock over everything, and suddenly we were being kicked out of our own home.” He went quiet for a moment, “I still stand by what I said before, you know. We didn’t have anything after that and suddenly we’re here, and the Empire isn’t as bad as we assumed it was.”

 

It was so surreal to hear Matthew defend the Irken Empire when he used to loathe the entire race. She wondered what had happened between then and now, but while he continued, she couldn’t help but wonder if he was right.

 

“We’re total outsiders in this world,” Dakota said quietly, “we came to learn that the Empire was flawed when we first learned about it.”

 

“Maybe it was the outside view that’s flawed.” He said calmly, “Look at us, kid. I’m a human with Irken blood, you’re not even an Irken, and we’re both being treated with respect. They made me a fucking Tallest! They didn’t have to do that. So far we’re being given a new life and a new home and a chance to become something better than what we used to be. I don’t want to go back to flying around and searching for a reason to live.”

 

“What about Dib, though? What about Jinx?” She frowned, looking up at him. Matthew was able to school his features concerning the mention of Jinx, and she didn’t see it.

 

“Dib is strong enough to take care of himself, and if we ever see him, then I’ll make sure he’s not treated badly. Jinx...is…” He took a breath, “I know you don’t agree with me, but Jinx is dangerous. He’s better off somewhere far away from you.” He reached over to put a finger against Dakota’s lips before she could open her mouth, “Remember how we got into this mess, Dakota. It’s Jinx’s fault that all of this happened. He still murdered the previous Tallests. He is unpredictable and a liability, a wanted criminal on top of it.”

 

“If it weren’t for Jinx I’d still be under those medications.” She said defensively, “He might be a criminal but there’s good in him.”

 

Matthew frowned, “He probably did that for his own agenda, Dakota. You have abilities, you can do great things, but think about it. Do you really think Jinx would do that out of the kindness of his own heart? Ever since you met him he’s been trying to use you.”

 

Dakota went quiet at that, her thoughts conflicting. Matthew made sense but she still believed Jinx had some sense of decency inside of him. Though...despite everything, Jinx only thought about himself. Not that it meant he wasn’t capable of some kind of selflessness. The more she tried to think about it, the more she was getting more facts that weighed against everything Dakota believed. Was he right?

 

Matthew knew she was deep in thought, every detail and every memory weighing against each other as she tried to understand and make sense of the opposing decisions. He wasn’t bothered. He knew he was right, and the sooner she saw how shifty the Irken was the sooner those rose-colored glasses would come off. Dakota was smart enough to see the truth.

 

She squirmed uncomfortably and decided to sit on Matthew’s lap, her legs on either side of his thighs. She watched him steadily. Matthew had always been biased against Jinx but perhaps he was right. Matthew allowed her to go back to that apartment despite seeing those hickeys on her neck, because he understood she was an adult that could make her own decisions. He begrudgingly got along with him for her sake. Matthew may have hated him, but he wouldn’t ever try to control Dakota like how Jinx had tried to control her those multiple times in the past. That’s just it, wasn’t it? Matthew never controlled her. He was always respectful, either it was to her or someone he hated more than anything.

 

“Maybe we do belong here.” She murmured eventually, hooking her arms around his neck. “We...we’re really doing this, are we? We’re starting a new life.”

 

Matthew hooked his arms around her waist and lowered his head until their foreheads touched. “The fact that you’re here with me makes it more enjoyable.”

 

Dakota smiled slightly, “I...couldn’t imagine not being able to share this without you.”

 

The two of them went quiet for a moment before Dakota finally tugged him forward for a light kiss.

 

She still worried and thought about Jinx, but this time she was going to keep that to herself.

 

“Oh!” Dakota smiled widely then, giving Matthew another kiss as she remembered the offer she was given. “Did you know the Massive has a science department?”

 

Matthew hummed slightly, deciding to kiss at her neck and try to continue their private time. “I was told about it.” He mumbled against her skin.

 

Dakota tried to focus while Matthew began to work, jumping slightly when she felt a hand massage her hip. “I was approached by the Head Scientist, he wants me to work with him--” The sentence ended with a quiet moan, but she wasn’t ready to become distracted. “It sounds perfect, learning about the science and technology that the Empire has to offer and being able to--” moan “--play with it.”

 

Matthew was only half-listening, nodding distractedly while his hands explored. Suddenly Dakota’s hands found either side of his head, drawing him over to her so they would meet eye to eye. “What?” He whined brokenly, “I heard you! You wanna work with the scientists!”

 

Her eyes glittered hopefully, “Does that mean you don’t mind?”

 

The man reached up to snatch her hands from his face, “Why would you think I wouldn’t mind? Just as long as they understand you’re not one of the experiments.” He turned her palms up to kiss them, “We only have two hours to ourselves, let’s talk about it later.”

 

Dakota let out a small cry when he suddenly pulled her up, practically carrying her to the bedroom.

 

Matthew was right, they were being given a second chance.

Chapter Text

The mark that he was given fifteen years ago was burning, the same mark that was given to him out of pure hatred, a mark that he was given to alert others to stay away from his human . He was more aware of that tattoo on his wrist right now than he was before, mostly because his circumstances had changed exponentially. He just didn’t know if it was for the worse or for the better.

 

He found a first-aid kit on his ship and immediately used a bandage to cover it up, because while Domino didn’t believe in Irken Law, there were other Irkens there that had different ideas. He really didn’t want to take his chances with Crux, or that one Irken dancer that was Domino’s number one fan, or worst of all, Jinx . It was during The Kasbah’s closing hours when everyone within Domino’s circle had gathered to discuss the matter at hand, and he could have sworn those violet eyes were on him every single moment. That was the first time he felt his mark burn, and when he raised his eyes to meet the ex-Tallest’s, the Irken had given him a knowing smirk.

 

His mind was on retrieving Matthew and Dakota from the Empire’s clutches, he didn’t have time for distractions. Dib wanted his friend back and Jinx wanted his...possession. The Irken in question never called Dakota anything other than his property, while he wasn’t surprised, he kept thinking that Jinx was considering Dakota to be more than that. The fact that Dakota was stuck with Matthew made it even worse, and more often than not Jinx would discuss what he would do to Matthew if he ever touched what was his. The possessiveness was nostalgic to Dib, and while Zim never thought of it in any sexual way (thank God), he was still passionate about him.

 

Perhaps that’s why his mind sometimes wandered off where it shouldn’t go, imagining instances where the Renegade Tallest would actually reconsider his offer and apply the same behavior on him as Jinx did with Dakota. He wouldn’t admit that to anyone, even though the subject of his daydreams seemed to know everything without being told. It was silly, it was strange, he felt like a teenager in highschool crushing over the mysterious transfer student. But he wasn’t in highschool, and Domino wasn’t human. Dib had a long time to realize that humans weren’t really interesting, in any sort of way. It was slightly obvious that he would gravitate to anything that was the least bit paranormal.

 

He never actually expected to fall into this. Hearing about Domino and seeing him for the first time was vastly different. Domino had a presence. Domino was imposing. Domino carried himself like he was a king. In a way, he was. Zetiya said it herself, Domino was a juggernaut, a man who could do just about anything. He was a physical representation of power, with the ability to lay waste to anyone with a smug grin and a casual shrug of the shoulders.

 

He was impressive, someone that Dib found himself nervous around. Dib couldn’t help it, and it was horribly daunting that Domino knew the effect he had on Dib. He never hid his amusement and intrigue. Every time they were in a room together was like a battle of wills, each side seeing which one would always crumble, and while Domino would never crumble, he made for damn sure to try and topple Dib.

 

The longer they stayed at The Kasbah, however, the more he realized that all that power was with a purpose. The story came from Zetiya, how she spoke about finding Domino while he was on the run from the Empire, having broken out before being made Tallest. It was with her coaxing that he became what he was. He started out with nothing, and with time he acquired what he needed to become the dominating force that he was. Though he didn’t do it for selfish reasons, he didn’t do it for the power, for the money or fame, he did it for the people he wished to save. He risked his life for aliens he didn’t know so they could have a better existence. He’s freed slaves, he’s killed the corrupt, he provided a planet for those who wanted shelter and a safe haven, and he uses all that money and power to back up the real Resistance. He wasn’t just another crime lord, he wasn’t someone who used his power for ill-gotten gains. He was a revolutionary that inspired many other Irkens like himself to find their voice.

 

Knowing all of that put Domino in a different light. Dib found himself awe-struck at how one single alien could be the scion of hope for everyone outside the Empire. An Irken that threw away everything and expected nothing in return.

 

The fact that the Irken, who managed to shake him without even trying, was someone other than what Dib first thought him to be, seemed to affect him. Though, no matter how kind-hearted and selfless this Irken was, he still managed to make Dib’s breathing stop and his heart pound relentlessly.

 

While Dib was having his personal crisis, Jinx was trying to deal with his own. He was doing his best not to fly off the handle. He had been increasingly moody ever since Dakota had gone with Matthew to the empire, and it was showing. He and Domino didn’t get along to begin with, and even though he needed the Irken’s assistance to their plight, he wanted someone to take his aggression out on. He didn’t like how they were taking time in planning an escape mission. He wanted to go to the Massive now and fight his way to get to his female. He didn’t care if he was outnumbered, he knew how to deal with the Irken Armada. He was the best chance of anyone getting through the Massive. He knew all the secrets of the mobile ship, secrets that Domino himself didn’t know.

 

The Massive was after Domino’s time. It had been an idea during Tallest Miyuki’s reign and only began construction after Tallest Spork met his end. It wasn’t anything tangible until years after Red and Purple began their rule. As Tallest-elect, Jinx was let into every secret on the Massive. Every escape route, every secret door, every security measure. It was how he was able to get out of the Massive without being caught, and if he could get out without trouble than he could certainly get back in .

 

Jinx was their key into the Massive. Jinx was an important player in their plans. Domino might have been a juggernaut but Jinx could easily become the same if he so desired. Jinx believed he would be made for such a thing, a powerful force that held the respect and fear of everyone around him. That was what he was best at, of course. He managed to kill the former Tallests, and killing a Tallest wasn’t such an easy task, unless you were a moron with hideously great luck like Zim. If he could manage to off Red and Purple than he could very well do just about anything.

 

Which made him wonder why Domino didn’t treat him with more respect. Red and Purple had a history with Domino, they were great enemies and were the bane of his existence. Jinx never had gotten so much as a thank-you from The Renegade Tallest. Domino should be on his knees and offering him more than just a room - a room he was forced to share with Dib. Jinx should be getting respect, he should be getting everyone’s trust. He shouldn’t have to go anywhere without The Crazed following him like a fucking dog waiting for the chance to attack.

 

He stewed in his irritation for at least a week, keeping quiet but glaring at whoever looked at him wrong. He was getting tired of this, of not doing anything but talking about it . He wanted to do something now , shake everything up and retrieve Dakota from the Empire’s grasp.

 

“We have an update.” Domino arrived from the elevator just as the club was letting go of their last customer, the Irken’s baritone attracting the attention of everyone of importance. Crux went about locking the club up and shutting down the sign for the time being while Zetiya set down the glass she was cleaning, jumping over the bar to hurry over to Domino’s side. Dib was there in a flash, as he always was. Jinx remained hovered at the bar, nursing the martini in his hand and watching.

 

Domino paid Jinx’s lack of attention no mind, “Our informant has told me that he made contact with Da-ko-ta, and is beginning his task to keep his eyes on her. Word is that she’s going to be playing scientist.”

 

“That sounds like her.” Dib didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing, “They’re letting her become a scientist? She isn’t familiar with Irken technology.”

 

“She’s intelligent enough to figure it out, human. Meekrob minds adapt quickly.” Jinx bit out from his seat, “I don’t buy that they’re just going to allow her a spot so easily. It sounds like a ploy.”

 

“Matthew wouldn’t allow Dakota to be experimented on!” Dib responded hotly, “That’s against his very nature!”

 

“Like they can’t do anything behind Matthew’s back.” Jinx’s antennae twitched irritably, and he finally stood up to stalk over towards Domino. “You know very well that I could end all of this.” He pointed a finger at Domino. “Both of us know that I’m more than capable of retrieving her.”

 

Domino glanced down at the finger, it was poised near his chest, and he smoothly brushed it away as if it were nothing. “We’re not doing anything until we take care of every loose end. I rather we go in with a well thought out plan than going in blindly and hoping for the best.” His eyes narrowed when Jinx’s did, “You’re not in the right mind to do anything.”

 

“Domie’s right, Jinx.” Zetiya said firmly, “We can’t go in with guns ablazin’, that’s just asking for more trouble than it’s worth.”

 

Dib went to touch Jinx’s shoulder. “I know you’re worried but just going in blind is completely--”

 

Jinx slapped Dib’s hand away, scowling at him. “Don’t you even fucking come at his defense when we all know you’re biased to begin with.” He hissed, “Don’t even act like I haven’t seen you drool over Domino like a Zevekiin youngling.”

 

Dib’s cheeks burned at the comment, sputtering, “That’s not--I’m not biased, you asshole!” He cried out, “Look, I care about Dakota as much as you do, but I have enough sense to know that now isn’t the right time to act!”

 

“I would prefer it if you would stop acting like a moody smeet.” Domino said then, glaring at him. “You’re becoming intolerable.”

 

“Moody smeet?” Jinx shouted, “I’m not being a moody smeet, I’m fucking thinking about about my female! Because of what she is, who she is, she will not survive the Empire’s grasp. And while that maggot HUMAN is under the Empire’s control then the longer we wait the worse things will become!”

 

“You’re going about it in the most immature way possible.” Domino growled out, “I did not get where I was by being impatient and hasty. Things like this take time . Something this big requires planning! You can’t just allow your emotions to cloud your judgment! You would have made the worst Tallest in the history of the Empire!” His words ended with a shout, and everyone went quiet. Jinx narrowed his eyes at the other, storming up to him and prodding his chest.

 

“I’m leadership material. You’re just jealous that I was able to do the one thing you couldn’t. I was trained to become an amazing and fearsome leader and all I get here is disrespect! You should be kissing my ass for taking care of your problem!”

 

Domino glared down at the fingers and swiftly grasped them, twisting Jinx’s arm back until the other Irken was crying out. “You’re nothing but an entitled little piece of shit that assumes he deserves the universe’s adulation when in reality you are the sole cause of everyone’s problems.” He snarled out in a low voice, “Instead of waiting patiently to become a Tallest you decide to be hectic and impatient and murder them for the sake of advancing your own agenda. Well, that didn’t work out well enough did it?” He yanked Jinx against him and hooked an arm over his neck as Jinx struggled against him. “You fled like a scared little smeet and upended not only your life but the lives of EVERYONE affected by your stupid decision!”

 

Dib jumped in place and tried to intervene, only to freeze in place when Domino shot him a stone-cold glare. He swallowed thickly and nodded, backing up.

 

“Let me go you fucking--”

 

“Do you even think?” Domino snarled out. “Do you? Maybe learn some humility and admit your array of VAST mistakes and I’ll treat you with something other than contempt!” He finally let go of Jinx and shoved him away, finally sick of his presence. Without saying anything else Domino turned sharply and went back to the elevator.

 

Jinx was breathing heavily, glowering after Domino before directing his ire onto Dib. “Thank you for defending me!” He bit out.

 

“Jinx! Jesus Christ will you stop for a second?” Dib cried out, glaring at him. “I know you’re worried about Dakota but this doesn’t give you the right to treat everyone else like shit!” He gestured to the elevator, “Domino has been nothing but gracious to us, he’s given you room and board for fuck’s sake! If it weren’t for him we’d be up shit creek without a paddle and I’ll be damned if your attitude is going to ruin any of that!” He finally turned away and headed towards the elevator, folding his arms in frustration as the door shut. 

 

The elevator ride was filled with tension, and Dib grabbed his arm and held it nervously. He hated having to be the one to apologize for Jinx’s behavior, but even if Jinx was acting so shitty he knew it was for a damn good reason.

 

When he was finally up on the secret floor he made his way over to the double doors, making sure to knock before entering. When he heard the approving words, Dib stepped inside, looking slightly nervous. Of course he was nervous, he was suffering from a childhood crush that made his body fill with anxiety whenever he was near the Irken. It wasn’t a reason to avoid the Irken and he certainly wasn’t going to allow his feelings dominate his actions.

 

Domino was already at the bar, gripping one of the bottles and taking a shot straight from the thing out of his own frustration. It reminded Dib of Matthew, but as far as he had seen, Domino didn’t drink as much as his friend.

 

“I don’t know how you can put up with that filth.” The Irken growled out, replacing the cap to the drink and putting it away.

 

“In his defense, Jinx isn’t always like this.” Dib began, earning him an unreadable stare from the taller alien. He flushed slightly and held his hands up, “I mean, I’ve had ample time with Jinx to know that he’s not always an asshole. I just think he’s confusing his emotions. If I remember correctly, love and caring aren’t part of the vast array of emotions that Irkens possess.”

 

Domino didn’t look convinced. “You’re saying that he’s acting this way out of love .” He said flatly.

 

Dib shrugged at the suggestion, “Hey, Jinx has had the most time with Dakota ever since he landed on Earth, and besides Matthew, I think Jinx thinks of her more than his property.”

 

The statement was unconvincing and Domino made his way back to the one-way mirror, gazing out at the club below him and glaring at the Irken they were talking about. “I need some concrete evidence, I’m sorry but I can’t see this twit thinking of anyone but himself.”

 

That earned Domino a laugh, and he turned back to watch Dib chuckle. The man sounded nervous as he did it, suddenly realizing that Domino was watching him. “It’s actually in what he says, not what he does.” Dib said then, “He always says that if she wasn’t marked then he would have done it himself, he even said it the night we found you.” He smiled, “There was something else that registered with me. He told me that he should have reversed his sterilization and gotten her pregnant to keep her from sacrificing herself for Matthew’s sake.”

 

The statement had Domino quiet, contemplative as he took in Dib’s words. It was still impossible to consider, but he himself knew all too well that the Empire limited emotions on Irkens, and once you were out of its grasp then the influence would die out. He was a defective, and he never experienced the limit on those emotions. He felt things like guilt and sympathy, and that was why he was the way he was. He was the only Irken he knew that was hatched with those illegal emotions.

 

Now he was being presented with an Irken who grew up embracing the Empire and its ways, allowing himself to be the perfect Irken the Empire wanted, who had fucked up on his own ambition and was forced to do what he could to survive outside of the Empire he obeyed so much. Domino and Jinx were two vastly different Irkens, two opposing personalities that didn’t mix well. Jinx wasn’t here because he wanted to be, he was here because he had no choice. But between his meeting with the female and now, he had been able to immerse himself into those taboo emotions. Could that asshole really be experiencing love?

 

Dib watched him think, sighing and moving to sit on the couch. “I know it sounds unbelievable, given who Jinx is. He’s hardly a selfless being, but I honestly think he’s confusing his possessive nature for actual affection.”

 

Domino let out a small laugh, finally sitting down in his chair. “You seem to possess a good amount of loyalty, human. You’re coming to the defense of the sole cause of your problems.” He smirked over at Dib, eyeing him. “You do realize that he’s inherently the reason you got sacked from your planet, do you?”

 

Dib blinked, suddenly feeling a nervous twitch as he was being stared down. He shook his head and looked away, “Well I would think that if he didn’t come to Earth then some things wouldn’t have happened. Dakota would still be under those inhibiting drugs and Matthew wouldn’t have learned what his wife had done to do that. I’m actually kinda happy that I was pulled into this mess.”

 

The Irken quirked an antennae, “Explain.”

 

Dib got up to his feet then, letting himself pace. “If this never happened, I wouldn’t have been contacted by Matthew, I wouldn’t have a chance to meet Dakota. We wouldn’t have ever met. At the same time, my life before this whole excursion was boring and dull.” He smiled, “You have to understand, Domino, when I was a child I met Zim. Zim, The Exile. It was my life’s goal to stop him from destroying my planet and up until he disappeared that was my soul purpose in life, and I felt so alive . No one believed me, and I tried and tried again to expose him, but no matter what. I felt alive. After he disappeared, I was thrown into a stasis, I decided to take up art and would draw out my frustrations. I continued to work at it until I had the idea to create a cartoon based on my life’s work - hoping that one day - just one day - someone would see what I’ve seen and believe everything I had said. Then it was canceled because it was too dark for people’s tastes, but it still created a following. Even though I was well known for a cult classic I still didn’t feel alive. All I was doing before Matthew called me was animating for another cartoon, because that was all I could do. His call changed my life, and suddenly I felt that spark again. Meeting Matthew, Jinx, even Dakota, I felt so much alive that I was almost giddy! We had a crazy adventure on Earth before we were kicked out, and I’m continuing this crazy adventure in space.” His brown eyes lit up, “If Jinx hadn’t come to Earth I’d still be unhappy, I’d still be stuck. Jinx allowed me to feel like I was twelve years old again. Jinx allowed me to relive my dream and…” Dib trailed off, tears prickling the corners of his eyes.

 

“If I didn’t meet Jinx...then I wouldn’t have found Zim.” He breathed, looking at Domino with a pained expression. The Irken before him remained silent and unreadable, but Dib continued, “Zim didn’t just disappear, Domino, he was stolen away. He was taken by my father, Earth’s top scientist, and experimented on. When I went to break Jinx out of the facility he was there too… He was-- so broken and weak . He was hanging onto an illusion. Jinx...he…” He took a steady breath, realizing that he was shaking slightly. He lowered his hands to the table to steady himself. “He pretended to be Tallest Red and told Zim he had done a good job .” He croaked out. “He allowed Zim to let go, to die with as much dignity as he thought he had.” His legs felt wobbly at the memory, giving out from under him until he had fallen against the desk, leaning his head onto the metal as he tried so hard not to break out in sobs. Dib sat there, trying to breathe through his tears and recollect himself, before he felt a presence behind him. Domino’s hand rested onto Dib’s shoulder and Dib stilled, not knowing what to do.

 

“I find it fascinating that you’re able to hold sympathy for Irkens that have lost face before the Empire. I never, ever, seen anyone shed tears over The Exile. Do you know how abnormal that is? No one who knew him would ever hold any emotion other than hate and disgust in his direction, yet you cry over his death.”

 

The tone of his voice wasn’t condescending or amused, it was steeped in pure recognition. Domino wasn’t insulting him in any way. Dib just sat there, unable to stop himself. “He was the one who allowed me to feel alive, I owed everything to Zim. He made me happy and later on kept me safe from those who tormented me.” He raised his wrist, his sleeve falling and exposing the bandaged mark. “He was the closest thing I had to a best friend.”

 

Domino smiled slightly, “It’s endearing to know that The Exile had done at least one thing right as he existed.”

 

Dib twisted around to face Domino, his face wet with his own tears. They were silent, staring at each other for some time.

 

“I miss feeling that way.” He uttered in a whisper. “I miss being protected like I was the most important thing to him. I miss...someone being selfish over me. I felt safe. I felt wanted.” He shook his head. “I guess you wouldn’t understand. It’s...what Jinx feels for Dakota, I’m almost envious of it.”

 

The Irken nodded quietly, moving his hand over to Dib’s exposed wrist. Dib watched him quietly until the Irken suddenly pulled his arm forward until Dib was flush against the other. Dib’s eyes went wide at the gesture, staring up at Domino. Brown met violet and then the Irken quirked a grin.

 

“You’ve been the most fascinating thing I’ve ever come across.” The Irken purred, “Your convictions, your nature. As a defective, I’m able to feel more than what I was told to feel, but suddenly I’m possessed with an Irken’s bare need to claim.”

 

Warmth flooded Dib’s face and pooled into his stomach, the anxiety of knowing how utterly close the two of them were fluttering in his stomach like a cloud of moths. He opened his mouth, unable to say anything.

 

Domino chuckled and dipped his head down, his arm wrapping around Dib’s lower back while he brought the other into a slow kiss. Dib reacted almost instantly, his hands reaching up into Domino’s robes while the Irken coaxed his mouth open. It was the right amount of burn, the human’s mouth. The Earthling’s saliva was acidic but not unbearably so, and Domino seemed to enjoy it, his tongue exploring and tasting something he had been curious about ever since the day they had crossed paths.

 

The kiss slowly built up from slow and cautious to passionate and needy, all of it coming from Dib’s end as everything that was pent up inside of him was starting to crumble. While Dib pressed on, Domino was trying to remain steady and cool-headed, but it didn't last for long. Soon the Irken was being washed under, the hand that was holding Dib’s wrist letting go so it could explore. When that hand slipped under Dib’s shirt the Irken’s touch was electrifying, eliciting a moan from the human under him. Domino grinned against the other’s lips and let his fingers explore the skin, just curious, all too aware that an exploring touch was affecting Dib in the best ways.

 

Domino, by nature, was an alien that liked to take his time. He never rushed into anything, unless it was Zetiya’s offer to become an icon for the Resisty, but other than that he made sure to go slow. He wanted to explore, drink in the pleasant sounds and tastes, as if Dib was a fine bottle of liquor that was gifted to him. However, he also had a bad habit of teasing others, wanting things to build up until the other party couldn’t handle it anymore. Desperation tasted good, but all out brazen desire tasted better.

 

His hand found something different, something Irkens didn’t possess, he curiously run his touch over the nub, and it incited a pleasant reaction from the human. By now the kiss had broken so the human could catch his breath, and Domino chuckled at his sudden moan and flushed features. Dib was a mixture of needy and frustrated, because he knew that look on Domino, the look to just tease him. He’s done it before, all those taunting looks for two weeks and that coy smirk that promised and never delivered. He grew bold suddenly and raised himself on his knees to capture Domino’s lips again, his own hands wandering up to the twin stalks that were the Irken’s antennae.

 

The brush of contact made the Irken’s breath stop, and Dib knew immediately that he was getting somewhere. Irken antennae were the most sensitive part of their anatomy, and depending on how it was touched, could create a good sensation or absolute pain. Dib brushed his fingers lightly over the closest stalk and Domino couldn’t bite back the groan, deepening the kiss. Another brush and the Irken broke the contact, growling low in his throat like a predator and grasping Dib’s waist as he stood back up, bodily carrying Dib over to the luxurious bed and unceremoniously dropping the human on top of it.

 

“I don’t know how you knew--” The Irken breathed when he descended over the other, and now it was Dib’s turn to smirk at him, challenging him silently.

 

“I know a lot about your race, remember?” He quipped deviously.

 

Domino’s antennae twitched from the reply, the Irken studying him. “You know who holds all the cards right now, don’t you?” He slowly smiled, “I’m quite tempted to just amp up your desperation and just leave you to fend for yourself. Unlike some Irkens,” His smile turned vicious, “I have unwavering patience and stamina.”

 

Dib’s heartbeat was easier to hear, and it wasn’t anywhere near calming down. Neither was his body’s reactions to the Irken’s threats, which while horribly taunting, turned him on. Domino stayed knelt over him, his eyes looking over the human below him and slowly thinking about what to do.

 

He didn’t get a chance to decide, hearing a knocking sound from the main door that immediately got on his nerves, his eyes narrowed slightly and he grumbled, withdrawing from his game with Dib, the battle of wills that he wanted to turn into something more. Dib, too, looked frustrated, and terribly embarrassed given the noticeable bulge in his pants. Domino pretended not to notice, stalking towards the door.

 

He opened it forcefully, glaring at whoever was on the other side. “WHAT--” He stopped quickly and backtracked, stepping aside so Zetiya could enter.

 

“I was wonderin’...” The Vortian female stopped quickly at the sight of the human sitting on Domino’s bed, which only meant one thing. A coy grin appeared on her face and she waved at him, “Did I interrupt sometin’, hun?”

 

“Yes.” Both of them answered in unison.

 

“What do you want?” Domino stared down at the other, but without any contempt. Dib watched, clearly noticing his change in demeanor. If anyone else were at the door, he probably would have torn into them and thrown them out, but with the Vortian woman, he was as docile as a domineering force could be.

 

Zeitya could clearly see Domino’s tension and annoyance, taking pure delight in knowing she ruined the mood. “The Betrayer is actin’ fishy.” She said then. “I had Crux tail him extra closely, but he’s talkin’ about contactin’ the Tallest.”

 

Domino’s antennae twitched, “Of course he is.” He didn’t sound surprised in the slightest. “I highly doubt that conversing with his most hated rival is going to do him any good.”

 

“He’s worried about his female, Dom. You might not see it through his exterior, but she’s all he thinks about.” The female said knowingly.

 

“Told you.” Dib said from the bed, earning a slight glare from Domino.

 

“Yes, yes, I’ve heard about The Betrayer’s seemingly selfless nature, but I’m the one in charge of this planet. He will sooner agitate the current Tallest and turn Matt-hew’s sights onto us than get the information he desires. I want you to put him under lockdown. He’s a risk to all of us!”

 

“That’s all I need to hear, Dom.” She glanced over at Dib again and smiled playfully, “I guess you can go back to doing what you were doing.” She took a hold of the door and showed herself out.

 

Dib let out a tired groan, “She’s going to torment me is she?”

 

Domino chuckled good-naturedly and went back to Dib, “She hadn’t seen me take a fancy to anyone in her life. She’s going to torment the both of us.”

 

The comment made Dib look at him steadily, “Wait--you mean, I’m the first?” He felt his cheeks burn at the information, and the moths were back in his stomach.

 

“Running a Resistance doesn’t allow me time to look around.” Domino said honestly, “I’ve hadn’t taken to anyone. No one has been interesting enough.”

 

“What about Zet?” Dib blurted out, remembering Jinx and the rumor. He just didn’t expect the bark of laughter coming from the taller alien, the Irken shaking his head in amusement.

 

“Zet is like a mother to me, Dib. She treats me as if I’m a smeet. Everything I have now was under her tutelage, except for this club.” He smiled slightly at the memory. “She was so against me for creating a sex club, as most of the slaves we rescued were torn from that life. I held firm, saying that nothing would go wrong if I just trained all of them how to fight, how to protect themselves. I never force anyone to become an employee, they volunteer for the job and get paid handsomely.”

 

Dib stared on, transfixed. For a sex club that reminded him of the seedy dives on Earth, it was the most noble one he’s stepped in, owned by an alien that never took advantage of his people. An alien that treated everyone with respect.

 

An alien that, out of anyone, set his sights on him. Dib felt a shiver go down his spine at the thought. He idly felt the bandaged tattoo on his wrist.

 

Irkens were always serious about their intentions.

 

Domino’s finger soon hooked under Dib’s chin and pulled the other’s attention back to him, the man watching those violet eyes sparkle with unspoken promises. Dib bodily turned to face him, ready to continue what they were in the midst of doing.

 

Until someone started kicking the door violently, and Crux burst inside, “The Betrayer snuck away and now his ship is missin’!”

 

Domino got up immediately and Dib almost fell off the bed, “WHAT?” They both cried out.

 

“The asshole was locked in his room and I was just content with leanin’ on the door, right? The fucker snuck out the window! When I went outside his ship is goin’ up into space and flyin’ off!”

 

“That’s not only his ship!” Dib cried, his eyes wide. “What is he thinking?”

 




Jinx made his way past the western border, “Computer, I need the location of the Massive.”

 

The computer seemed to groan, “Where’s Commander Dib?”

 

“Just give me the coordinates.” Jinx growled out dangerously.

 

The computer went silent before the exact coordinates appeared onto the screen, before a dotted map of the universe appeared and the coordinates zoomed out to a blinking dot with an Irken symbol. Jinx set his jaw, keeping his eyes on the blinking symbol. “Patch me to the Massive.”

 

“But--”

 

“I DIDN’T ASK FOR YOUR OPINION.”

 

“Fine. Contacting the Massive.”

 

Jinx did his best to stay level-headed, breathing steadily as the transmission screen buzzed. Soon, an image appeared, Tallest Matthew standing at the helm of the Massive, his eyes widening at the sight of Jinx before narrowing dangerously.

 

“I should have known I’d hear from you any time now.” Matthew growled. “What do you want?”

 

Jinx eyed him defiantly, “You know what I want. I want my Dakota.”

 

Matthew glowered at him before smirking, “I’m sorry, but your Dakota? Oh no, no, no, no, not anymore.” He grinned, his disguise flickering and Matthew’s real face appearing for Jinx. “We’re pretty fucking happy without you, Jinx. You’d be amazed how much I’ve been enjoying her company.”

 

Jinx’s eyes narrowed, “If you dare touch my property--”

 

“Touch, licked, sucked, bitten, claimed, made love to ,” Matthew quirked his head, “I’m pretty sure I’ve dared every inch of her by now.” He was saying it clearly to get a rise out of Jinx, to possibly cloud his judgement and make him enraged. “Multiple times.”

 

It was working.

 

Jinx let out a feral snarl and slammed his fist into the console, effectively denting it. “When I find you I’m going to finish what I should have started back on Earth!” He shouted. “I will fucking crush your skull with my own bare hands!”

 

“I’ll be waiting, Jinx.” Matthew grinned, “This has been a long-time coming, and I’m not going to be sorry when I finally execute you myself. Safe travels .” He added the last part mockingly, the line cutting off.

 

Jinx was seeing red, “Computer, set a course for the Massive. I have a date to keep.”

Chapter Text

 

When the transmission cut everyone inside the control room was dead-silent, staring at their Tallest with apprehension. Matthew didn’t look all that bothered, still grinning. He was waiting for this. “I want the Armada ready for the Betrayer,” He announced to the advisor behind him. “When he is finally here I want him captured alive. I already know what we’re going to do with him.”

 

Nym took down the information, “Yes, My Tallest.”

 

Matthew thought about the fun he was going to have, the surge of pleasure over the thought of murdering the fucking Irken was making his nerves alight with anticipation. Once he was gone, Dakota wouldn’t have anything to sway her from leaving his side, and then they could start on the more important things. Like their impending family. All he needed was…

 

His mind wandered off and he retreated from the head of the control room, “Alert me if you see anything disconcerting.” He ordered the navigators, leaving the platform. Nym jumped in place and hurried after him, “My-My Tallest, where are you going?”

 

Matthew smiled, “To check up on my mate, what else?”

 



It wasn’t easy to be a spy for the Resisty, especially when you were riddled with anxiety and jumpy about anything. It was what made him - ironically - such a good spy, he was already a nervous bag of twitching already to be considered anything of the sort. Not even that, but he was also very soft-spoken and small. No one expected a tiny scientist that was frightened of his own shadow to be working for the enemy.

 

His double life wasn’t on purpose, it was merely by his brother’s suggestion. Khan wouldn’t be doing this if his brother Dios wasn’t such a convincing con-artist. Adon didn’t help, the more level-headed and quiet brother had agreed with Dios. He sometimes hated his brothers, sometimes.

 

There was no such thing as a family on Irk, there was no such thing as breeding and Irkens were sterilized upon hatching. The only reason he had brothers was due to the fact that the three of them were hatched exactly at the same time. All three of them had bonded since that moment. Dios was instantly a defect, he had the overwhelming habit of setting things on fire and managed to get out of being deleted by the skin of his teeth. Adon was a defect in the way that he was hatched without vocal chords. He only spoke to others through a notepad. Khan was a defect in the way that…

 

Just the memory itself sent a twinge of pain inside of him. He wouldn’t have been a defect if it weren’t for Zim. Khan, Adon, and Dios were hatched only a minute after Zim was. When it was time to be sent down the chute Khan was the one to have the horrible misfortune to be dropped in as Zim had finished his information dump. He didn’t even know what was happening until it happened, and suddenly Zim grabbed him and thrust him back up the delivery chute, stopping his brothers from coming down and clogging up the tube.

 

His stress and anxiety was pinpointed to that one event, the event that sent Khan into a horrible state for the rest of his life. Being around Zim as they trained only worsened, and Khan seemed to be Zim’s target more often than not, because the Irken felt like the other’s frightened nature was amusing to toy with. It only became a lot worse when Zim was assigned to be a scientist. Khan, at first, was coded to become a doctor. However, every time he had a glimpse of blood he grew ill and had the habit of fainting. Tallest Miyuki instantly felt bad for him and decided he would be better suited as a scientist. He was yet again subject to Zim’s torment, and also his bullying. Apparently fainting at the sight of blood was the funniest thing on Irk to the Exile.

 

It was only by divine intervention that Zim was recoded to become an Invader after the deaths of Miyuki and Spork, but he imagined that would have been the last he heard of Zim. Until Operation Impending Doom happened. Khan was almost killed along with many others while Zim took out his crazy upon the home planet. The Smeetery was underground, something that Khan thought would be safe from his destruction, but Zim was so unstable that his destruction extended into the underground, the violent tremors enough to break apart everything inside the Smeetery and cause a cave-in when the surface finally collapsed in on itself.

 

It was around that time that Dios and Adon had enough of the Empire, but Khan was too scared to follow his brothers. He was so far up in his position, he was looked upon with respect, despite his short stature. His brothers had left but it didn't last for long, and only years later when he was transferred to the Massive, he had the chance to run into his brothers again. They had convinced him to become a spy for the Resisty, after telling him about the Renegade Tallest and everything he was doing for Irkens like them. And soon, he was doing so, knowing that while he was doing something good for others, his life could overturn at any moment and he would be deleted. The benefits outweighed the risks in his opinion, and he wanted to be brave and heroic, just like Adon and Dios.

 

Which led him to this moment, meeting with the human female, knowing that she wasn’t really all that human. He was being given two different orders: one from the Control Brains themselves, and one from his current Tallest. He was to do experiments on her, according to the Brains, while under the guise of allowing her to work for him. He didn’t expect much, at first, their first day together wasn’t as spectacular. She was like a smeet ogling brand new toys, fascinated and willing to learn. He had another scientist take blood and DNA from her, under the excuse that they needed it for their security. His Tallest, Matt-hew, had specifically told her that she wasn’t to be experimented on, a total contrast to what the Control Brains wanted. It wasn’t normal that the Control Brains would do anything without their Tallest knowing but it was happening. He only knew that he was juggling three masters right now: his Tallest, the Control Brains, and Domino. Domino took precedence, and it was a must that he needed to keep the human female around them, to make sure she was safe, because according to his leader - her presence would incite the Control Brains to try something funny.

 

It was an overwhelming order, but not impossible. He just didn’t expect that the human female would begin to absorb all the knowledge that she was given, and within a week she was on-track, as if she was a regular Irken just starting out. He also managed to provide Dakota with special goggles that translated everything she read right in front of her. He never met someone so enthralled about their work. It was almost a breath of fresh air.

 

He was working alongside her now, both of them going about with genetic research. All he had to do was direct Dakota on what to do and she figured it out quickly, both of them proceeding to work in pleasant silence behind the lull humming of machines all around them. The other scientists had adapted to her presence a long time ago, as soon as they realized she wasn’t stupid. It was a content silence that they all worked in, only speaking when they needed to. They were so focused on their work that none of them noticed the looming presence outside at the window, watching everything with his icy blue eyes. Only when a scientist looked up and shrieked upon seeing him did everyone realize that he was there, the said scientist clutching her chest and collapsing onto the floor while the rest of them had almost broken something.

 

Dakota was also startled, taking in Matthew’s appearance and starting to laugh, much to the annoyance to the other scientists. Everyone knew the reason why Tallest Matt-hew ever stepped foot inside their working area.

 

Khan almost looked bothered, but he couldn’t just tell off his own leader, could he? Instead he sighed, looking up at Dakota. “You’re due a lunch break anyway.”

 

Dakota wasn’t even thinking of that, catching Khan’s words and nodding, “Yeah--ok, I’ll be back.”

 

“Come back alone.” The female scientist said.

 

“We don’t want both of you contaminating the storage room either!”

 

Dakota went red, “That was one time!” She escaped the room before she could hear the retort, smirking up at Matthew. “Haven’t you learned by now that you shouldn’t scare them?”

 

Matthew grinned, “That’s the best part about coming over here. Allow me to have some fun.”

 

Dakota shoved him lightly, the only one who was allowed to act so casual to the Tallest. “I understand your status makes you a threatening and fearful man to approach but at least humor me and try not to strike fear into the hearts of your own people just for shits and giggles.”

 

“Part of being a Tallest means that I have to strike fear into the hearts of everyone, including my own people. I’m strengthening bonds and creating loyalty.”

 

Dakota rolled her eyes, “You can do the same with kindness, you know.”

 

The mention of kindness made Matthew make a face for a while, “This environment doesn’t allow kindness, Dakota. Kindness is seen as weak. I’m not a weak ruler.”

 

His words struck a chord in Dakota, and she looked up at him again. This sounded so familiar, and her earlier worries were now starting to resurface. “Matthew, you were my teacher once and that’s how you were with everyone.” She said quietly. “You were kind and benevolent and understanding. Where is the same Matthew Drake that I grew up respecting?” She stopped in her place, effectively halting him.

 

“Dakota,” Matthew sighed, looking around, “I’m not a teacher anymore, I’m a Tallest. None of the Irkens inside of this ship are students, I’m taking on the role how it’s meant to be.”

 

“You’re losing yourself in the process.” Dakota pointed out, “Don’t think I haven’t noticed. You...you’re changing.” She said it softer as some Irkens skittered past. “I’ve noticed it a week ago, but I never said anything...because you’re still you - but only when we’re alone. You’re only kind and nice to me , but beyond that you become fully Irken.”

 

It was noticeable since the start, Dakota remembering herself taking notes on his changes before Khan discovered her. He was slowly becoming a different person, someone she didn’t recognize sometimes outside of their time alone. Matthew’s normal kindness wasn’t there anymore, overtaken by his need to strike fear in all the other Irkens. His understanding was becoming just as muddled every time he threatened to shoot someone out of a canon for the most minor infractions. His whole identity was beginning to warp and become something completely different, and the longer she watched the more she began wondering about how long it would be until his love for her turned into something dark and twisted.

 

Matthew didn’t want to talk about this here, out in a hallway where anyone could be listening. He pulled her into an adjacent room, scaring whoever was inside of it so they had privacy. Dakota didn’t like how Matthew used his status to push around the Irken, folding her arms and staring at him. “This is what I’ve been talking about!”

 

“Dakota, we’re not on Earth!” Matthew deactivated his disguise, exposing his human form to her. Dakota could stare at Matthew all she wanted but all she could see now was someone that she was losing. “Irkens are horribly different than humans. Irkens need someone to fear, someone to tell them to do things. That’s why there’s a Tallest in the first place. Without me then it would be pure chaos. There’s an entire history--”

 

“A history that you didn’t know until two weeks ago, Matthew.” She cut in, “You were nice and fine up until you saw the Control Brains, and every day since then you’d been slowly changing into something else. You’re almost worse than Jinx now, but at least Jinx was straight-forward--”

 

“Oh don’t lump me in with THAT Irken!” Matthew scowled, “I’m nothing like Jinx, I’m better than him! I’m not a murdering psychopath!”

 

The air around Dakota was starting to change, just subtly but Matthew could feel it. “You’re not getting it.” She clipped out. “You’re losing your humanity! Everything that made you the kindest and loving human is slowly being erased by the Empire’s ideals! You would never badmouth Everett in front of me, no matter what happened between the two of you! The only one you’ve been descent to is me , but I always wonder when that’s going to be taken away too. Your love for me is becoming tainted with an Irken’s basic need to own me.” She gestured to her hair, ripping the tie from her bun and allowing it to fall. “I have to display myself to everyone .”

 

“It’s to protect you!” Matthew shouted, “Dakota if no one knows you’re my property than anyone will just grab you and take your for themselves--” He stopped at her strange stare, her eyes prickling with tears. “Dakota?”

 

“Did you just hear what you said?” She asked in a wavering voice. “You called me your property.” She took a step back. “Not your mate, not someone you love, but someone to own. How long will it be until the programming on your pack will overtake every shred of humanity that you have and leave you just like the rest of them?”

 

Matthew’s face fell, “Dakota I didn’t mean it--” He took a step forward and tried to grasp her arm but she wrenched it away before he could, taking steps back to the door.

 

“You didn’t mean it now, but you will soon.” She choked out in a weak voice, finally leaving the room and taking off down the hall.

 

Matthew scowled and turned around, letting out an enraged growl and slamming his fists into the wall, leaving a dent. This was all Jinx’s fault somehow. Nothing would ever be okay in his life until he had that fucking Irken’s head on a pike.

 

He didn’t even take into thought Dakota’s words on his change in character, not one bit.



Crux had gone back into his room below the Kasbah to gather some weapons, Domino had went back to his office to take care of some things while Zetiya was readying a ship. Dib was sitting at the bar, trying to calm his nerves with whiskey. After one solid swallow his nerves felt less intense. Jinx had just forced their hand.

 

Domino had wanted to let Jinx get captured and killed out of spite but Dib had managed to talk him out of it. They needed Jinx. They needed Dakota. With Jinx gone with Dib’s ship the Irken inadvertently made a plan without them, and they were possessed to make another on the fly. Dib made sure to use his intelligence to think quickly, strategy was something he was good at. He made plans constantly as a child. Just only twenty hours later Dib was bursting into Domino’s room with his own plan. All they needed was to allow Jinx to be captured, and then send a rescue team after him and Dakota. They couldn’t get Matthew out even if they tried, but if they could get Dakota out then Matthew wouldn’t be hard to follow. He was devoted to Dakota, he wouldn’t leave her.

 

Zetiya had disguise chips made for Dib just so his human appearance wouldn’t raise any unneeded attention while Domino had to alter his appearance to blend in, though with his height, blending in proved to be an impossible task to even consider. He settled on a change of appearance, removing his bicep tattoos and changing his clothes and eye-color would make him look less like himself.

 

Their ship options were minimal, only one was big enough for four of them. The same ship Zetiya used to store away all of her weapons, in which she had to unload and store them securely in Crux’s room so they wouldn’t be stolen. No one entered Crux room for fear that they’d never leave. It had one room but little to nothing else but that private room. Dib wondered how long it would take for them to get there, and just how far Jinx would be up shit creek before they contacted him.

 

“We’re ready.” Zeitya finally came back from the ship with the last of her guns, and instead of putting them away she tossed one over at Dib. He caught it quickly, almost fumbling with it until he was sure he wouldn’t drop it.

 

“Why are you giving me a gun?” He cried.

 

“All of us need somethin’ honey. Domie has knives aside from weapons and Crux will have explosives strapped to his body. You need to be prepared.”

 

Dib hesitated for a moment, looking down at the gun. It looked like a futuristic weapon, the metal looking like it was out of a sci-fi movie. What kind of metal is this?”

 

“The rarest of the rare.” She said with a grin. “Vortian metal.” She chuckled when he looked up at her again. “I know of a few deposits that the Empire doesn’t know of and twice a sweep I harvest from them and create the guns. They sell at a pretty high price. My previous trade was an arms dealer for the Antemps, up until I ran into Dom.”

 

Dib slipped the gun onto his back and watched her, suddenly interested. “What was he like, before…” He gestured to the club.

 

Zetiya smiled, “Dom was in disguise when I met him. He was runnin’ an Irken special and soon his cover was blown and he ran off with one of my guns. I was so livid, I tracked him down. He was fresh, and I was suspicious of his intent. Back then, Dib, there wasn’t any Irken that was actively against the Empire. Irkens were loathed outside the Empire and treated with hostility, defectives more so.” She sat on the stool next to him. “He was...awe-inspiring. He was so passionate about his beliefs, and I wanted to see how far he would take those beliefs. The longer we spent together, I began to see more than his Irken exterior. Dom has emotions. A wider array of emotions that not all Irkens have. He feels guilt and sympathy for everyone treated wrongly. It was the first time I’ve ever seen an Irken go into a rampage over enslaved females and children.”

 

Dib’s cheeks went pink at the story, “He was as serious back then as he is now.” He surmised.

 

“He was a lot more playful back then.” Zetiya grinned, “The Domino you see now has been molded after countless murder attempts and his own retaliation to those assassins. He’s vicious when he wants to be, but when it comes to his people he will do just about anything in his power to help every single one of them.”

 

Dib nodded slowly, soon spotting Domino within their range. He kept his eyes trained beyond the window of the Kasbah, staring intently at the ship.

 

“We’re leaving.” He called out to those who heard them. “Dayju, you’re in charge in my absence!”

 

The red-eyed Irken lounging near the stage lifted a drink Domino’s way and smiled, “Have fun, boss.”

 

As Zetiya and Dib began to leave the man kept his eyes on Dayju. “I’ve forgotten to ask about him. What’s his story?”

 

“Dayju?” Zetiya glanced at the Irken, “He was on the run from the Empire and given who he was, his only way of surviving was to pickpocket other aliens. When he targeted Domino and attempted to do the same, Dom caught him and offered him another way to make monies.” She smiled again, “He’s the most popular dancer in this place.”

 

“Domino really inspires his followers...I’ve never met a good Irken before.”

 

Domino’s antennae perked at Dib’s statement, narrowing his eyes slightly. “One thing you need to know, Dib, is that I’m anything but a good Irken. Get that through your head now, I’ve done horrible things to get where I am right now, don’t become delusional over my character.”

 

When Crux shut the door Dib stepped closer to Domino. “Don’t sell yourself short. Every story I hear about you paints nothing but a positive picture. You did everything to ensure the safety of slaves, you’ve created a safe haven for refugees! You are doing something I could never imagine any Irken doing and you say you’re not a good person? Just because you’ve killed criminals and slave traders doesn’t mean it negates everything you do.”

 

Crux let out an amused chortle, “He’s got ya there, Boss.”

 

Domino’s face became impassive, “Zet, pilot the ship. You know where to go.” He grabbed Dib’s arm and dragged the man back towards the only room in the ship, throwing him inside and shutting the door after he entered it.

 

Dib backed up until his legs were stopped by a bed that was full of clutter, almost falling onto it. He looked up at Domino, watching as the Irken studied him quietly.

 

”The sooner you learn that I'm nothing to be glorified is the sooner you wake up from your delusions.” He began in a low growl. ”I'm not a saint. I'm not perfect. I'm not good. I'm a monster. I'm a killer. I'm a force that is to be feared and I can turn on you in an instant and gut you before you can blink.”

 

Dib narrowed his eyes at Domino, stepping closer. ”No you won't.” He said quietly. ”I've done nothing against you.” He was anxious, but his damn need to face his fears head-on kept him from backing down. “You think you’re nothing good, you assume that just because you spilled blood that you don’t deserve to be praised for doing something to benefit others, but the blood you spill isn’t just for the fun of it. Everything I’ve been told about you has one constant fact - that you do anything to keep your people safe. You are selfless and generous, and bad people are not putting others’ needs before their own.” He pulled in his anxiety and took a steadying breath, reaching up to press his hands against Domino’s chest. It always intrigued him, feeling the lack of heartbeat but something else entirely, the rhythmic convulsions of the squeedily-spooch. It didn’t move like a heartbeat, not in the slightest, it had its own set movement. He put his ear to Zim’s chest once, and he was able to hear the blood rushing through him.

 

Domino hooked his hands around Dib’s wrists, his antennae flattening. “You’re not the only person who keeps trying to convince me otherwise.” He tightened his grip on the other’s wrist. “Though you’re the only one who continues when I demand them to stop.”

 

“It’s the truth.” Dib said as his voice wavered slightly. “I wouldn’t be saying any of it if it weren’t.”

 

Domino kept quiet, thinking over everything Dib was talking about before releasing one of his wrists, grasping his jacket instead and suddenly slamming him against the only wall that was clear of storage, holding him up by his own power alone and pressing against him.

 

Dib had yelped, his eyes going wide at the sudden display of force. He was helpless, unable to even touch the floor as he and Domino were eye to eye. Soon Domino closed the gap, going for the other’s neck. Dib managed to hold onto Domino as the Irken bit into him, intent on making a mark that Dib wouldn’t be able to hide. The man made a strangled groan, his eyes going half-lidded as Domino licked the now bleeding spot between his neck and shoulder. In the back of his mind he knew that they weren’t alone on this ship, that Zet and Crux were still outside.

 

“What about--” He breathed, and Domino suddenly released him and turned away, shoving all the clutter off of the unused bed before reaching back to grasp Dib, to sling him onto the firm mattress.

 

”I don't care.” Domino hissed out, descending onto Dib and pinning him onto the bed before capturing his lips again. The kiss was bold and aggressive, full of want and desire and Dib felt himself being swept away by the Irken’s intentions. He moaned into the kiss, feeling Domino’s knee between his legs. The Irken made a low growl in his throat and reached down to palm the other’s crotch, grinning salaciously at the feel of Dib’s stiff organ. Dib was having trouble holding back his noises as Domino’s dexterous fingers found their way past Dib’s waistband to wrap around him, starting to pump him slowly.

 

Dib whimpered when Domino's mouth went back to his neck, the man beginning to pant while Domino worked on undoing the human underneath him. He was going so slow, and Dib was so close to begging for him to move faster.

 

Please .” Dib groaned breathily, his hips bucking to the Irken’s rhythm. Domino grinned against Dib’s throat, licking along his flesh before nipping his chin, moving faster. Dib’s body was reacting to his touch, shuddering as Dib was trying desperately not to cry out.

 

”If you wish for anything more, then I suggest you be more vocal.” Domino purred, kissing him again.

 

Dib whined, ”But--”

 

”No one will hear you.” Domino said silkily, stroking him faster now. Dib suddenly let out a cry as his hips bucked upward, and the Iken looked pleased by the reaction. He continued, paying attention to the human’s bodily reactions and his breathing, taking him up further and further until Dib was begging for release. And then...Domino stopped.

 

Dib was so close to his orgasm until Domino pulled him away from it, earning the Irken a frustrated whine. ”I almost--”

 

Domino grinned. ”I know.” He removed himself from Dib’s body and studied his form, taking in the other’s blown-out pupils. Domino’s fingers hooked onto the waistband of Dib’s pants and curiosity removed them, interested in seeing what was underneath. He was presented with such a peculiar sight, running his fingers along the other’s shaft and eliciting a shudder from the man. He felt Dib’s balls, wondering what they were used for. When Dib whined again he grinned at the human, lowering himself as an unexpected impulse hit him. He reached up to Dib’s hips and pulled him further down, Domino looming over Dib’s lap before he grasped his shaft and gave it a curious lick.

 

Dib’s body reacted with a shudder as he sighed, staring down at what Domino was doing before another lick had his head falling back. The feeling of Domino’s mouth on him made him realize that he was getting his first blowjob at twenty-seven and it was from an alien. An alien that was dangerous and kind and every bit exciting. Domino knew what he was doing as well, licking and sucking in just the right spots until Dib was mewling desperately to come apart. Domino heard Dib’s pleas and decided to be benevolent, dragging him over the edge as the intensity of Dib’s orgasm had him seeing stars.

 

Domino wasn’t prepared for the ejaculate. The liquid burning his mouth the same say that Dib’s saliva had done every time they kissed. The taste wasn’t unbearable, and he swallowed, licking his lips after the fact before looking over Dib’s features. He smirked, taking in how dazed Dib looked, moving to settle next to him and idly flicking Dib’s hair scythe. ”Love, don't tell me that was your first time.” He managed a grin.

 

Dib’s cheeks burned, ”N-N-No--Maybe--okay yes but it wasn't by choice!” He cried, reaching up to cover his face. He was met with a chuckle and Dib groaned. ”Why did you do this?” His voice wavered.

 

“We were interrupted before anything could happen…” Domino said thoughtfully, though it didn’t sound like the actual truth. Dib stayed still until he was ready to move, sitting up to pull his clothes back on. He knew Domino was watching him the entire time, trying desperately not to lose focus.

 

“We’re on this ship for a reason.” Not that he didn’t appreciate what Domino had done for him, no, he enjoyed it very much, but they were chasing after Jinx.

 

Domino shrugged freely, sitting back as Dib went to the door and opened it, stepping out.

 

What accosted him was a loud wolf-whistle from Crux and Zetiya winking at him, and Dib became red, his head jerking back towards Domino. “You said they wouldn’t hear anything!” He croaked out.

 

Domino gave him a little grin, “Did I now?”

 

Dib slapped his hand over his face, going back to the front as Zetiya made her way to the smaller room, settling herself in the doorway and grinning at him.

 

“You couldn’t wait until we got back to Retristé?”

 

“You heard him.” Domino was still sitting back, his legs crossed. “He said I’m a good Irken.”

 

“You are.” Zetiya said knowingly. “It’s about time someone else believes it.”

 

“That’s why I thanked him, Zet.” Domino said smoothly, meeting Zetiya’s smile with his own.

 

The Vortian stepped further inside the room and patted his knee. “I think you should keep him, Dom. He’s good for you.”

 

Domino let out a small chuckle, “I plan to.”

Chapter Text

Thank Irk for hyperdrive.

 

Jinx didn’t bat an eye as the ship slowed down, the Massive was suddenly in his sights. He glared at the monolith scathingly, going about his plan of action. He was going to use the secret passages to get where he needed to go, and if Dakota was living in the Tallests’ quarters then he had a good chance of finding her.

 

First, however, he needed to fucking kill someone. The Earthling had it coming for months. Jinx should have just killed him when he had tracked Dakota down to his base, but no , he didn’t think the human was much of a threat at that point, and he made a good reason to sway Dakota into leaving for The Exile’s abandoned base. If he had known that one simple mistake would have been his downfall then he would have done his best to rectify that as soon as possible. Now he was being given a chance to make things right, and not even Matthew’s new pack or his status as a Tallest was going to give that human any upper hand. Jinx had been learning how to battle since he was a smeet, he knew a whole lot more than Matthew, he was the better fighter.

 

The Irken continued towards the Massive, keeping an eye on the orbiting ships around the monolith and noting that they weren’t taking action to his presence. It clearly meant that Matthew wanted him to step onto the Massive without any resistance. He thought about it. Either this meant that they were going to meet without hostility or that it was a trap meant to catch Jinx off-guard before Matthew eventually deals his hand.

 

His monies were on both options.

 

His movements weren’t met with hostility at all, actually, the ships were gathering behind him, as if to make sure he didn’t retreat. Jinx bared his teeth, they were literally forming a wall to make sure he docked the ship into the Massive’s loading deck. They were on orders to make sure he didn’t get second thoughts.

 

Once he was inside the loading deck he was greeted by the current Tallest, flanked by Armada soldiers. The disguised human was waving mockingly at him through the window, silently challenging him to come out of the ship. Jinx clicked his tongue in irritation and narrowed his eyes in return, making his way out of the ship. He was surrounded immediately by soldiers, the lot of them making sure he didn’t try anything funny while their Tallest was within range. Jinx paid it no mind, stalking towards Matthew and baring his teeth.

 

“We’re going to settle things how we should have done them on Earth.” Jinx growled out.

 

Matthew smiled cooly at him, “I don’t want anything less than the chance to put you in your place.” He replied.

 

“Fight to the death. Winner takes what is rightfully theirs.” The Betrayer said evenly.

 

“It’ll be my pleasure when I finally get to crush you with my bare hands.” Matthew’s smile twisted into a grin, “Do you have any other requests before I show you to your cell?”

 

Jinx’s antennae twitched, “Yeah.” He spat, “If we’re doing this, I want you to forego your disguise. I want everyone to see what you really are. I want Dakota to see your face when the blood drains from your eyes.”

 

Matthew stepped closer, “Dakota’s not going to be anywhere near the arena.” He rose a finger and switched off his disguise. Even without it, Matthew still looked terrifying, effectively startling the soldiers around him. The man’s blue eyes stared into Jinx’s red ones, ice for fire. “You will have one last meal before you’re mercilessly gored in front of my people.” He snapped his fingers then, towards the Armada soldiers, “Escort my guest to his quarters .”

 

The soldiers saluted Matthew, the majority of them making sure to lead Jinx away without problem.

 

When they left, Matthew’s advisor was left at the man’s side. Nym watched on, looking back at Matthew after a moment of silence.

 

Matthew didn’t look back at his advisor, cracking his knuckles. “I want Dakota to be confined to her rooms. She isn’t allowed out until everything’s done.”

 

Nym nodded obediently, saluting him as well. “I’ll make sure it’s done, My Tallest.”




Dakota was with Khan in the cafeteria, expressing her own dismay as the Irken was the closest thing she had to a friend in the Massive. The little Irken was nervous at first to be seen alone with her, but Dakota insisted on making sure Matthew wouldn’t kill him if the man became jealous for no good damn reason. That, however, was one of the problems she was worried about.

 

“He used to be very different, back on Earth.” Dakota was grateful that they were in a lonely corner of the cafeteria, however it was mostly due to the fact that no one wanted to try their luck being near her. She was the Tallest’s mate, after all. She thought about Matthew while she was in highschool, lingering on a french fry as she remembered something. “He was a dedicated teacher. He wanted everyone to succeed. Those who would begin to fail his class he took aside and personally helped them with whatever problems they had. When he discovered someone was being bullied, he would go on a rampage after the bully and that was the only time he would inflict fear onto someone. He was a compassionate man.”

 

Khan chewed on his food while Dakota spoke, swallowing before he could reply. “Tallest Matt-hew sounds...so different.” He was honestly interested in her story, sitting attentively. “How did you two meet?”

 

Dakota smiled, “I was a freshman in highschool, which would be a fresh meat in the academy in your terms. I was so curious back then. We met the very moment I stepped into his classroom. He was wearing short sleeves at the time, it showed off all of his tattoos. His hands weren’t marked yet, it was mostly sleeves.” She gestured to her hands and arms. “I was so...amazed! I never met a teacher that had so many tattoos, and I think I spent the better part of a month just staring at his arms instead of focusing on my work. He noticed that I think, and once the weather began to cool he began wearing long sleeves. I remember being so disappointed.” She chuckled, “I didn’t really think about how many other tattoos he might have under those clothes until the second year, and by that time I was really into listening to him lecture about whatever book we were studying. I wasn’t the only one who had a crush on him at that point. There were about two other girls in the class who actively gave him gifts on Valentines Day.”

 

Khan tilted his head. “Valentines Day?”

 

“An Earth holiday where you give the person you like or love slabs of meat.” Dakota explained, “It’s...a strange day, but I read that a long time ago it used to be chocolate until people started giving out chocolate covered foods, and then it evolved into chocolate-covered steaks...and I guess they got rid of chocolate altogether and it just became steaks...and then it was just meat.” She shrugged, “It...it’s weird, I know.”

 

“It is.” Khan agreed quietly, “Your life on Earth sounded so interesting.”

 

“Not really.” Dakota dipped her next fry into some sauce. “I was in a bad way most of the time, and then I was put under drugs… it wasn’t until I met Jinx that everything actually got better.” She sighed after that, thinking about Jinx, “He gave me back my life. I don’t really care what anyone says, he was good to me, even if it was for his own benefit.”

 

Khan frowned, “I don’t know much about The Betrayer, but you paint him in a better light than what I’ve seen. All I know was that he was very egotistical and selfish and always thought about himself. The Tallests didn’t like him that much, but then they didn’t know he would go off and kill them.”

 

Dakota thought about it, remembering their initial meeting. He was very full of himself, Jinx was almost unbearable, and she slowly agreed with the Irken. Though Jinx had redeeming qualities about him as well, and had started to show them the longer they were together, when he wasn’t trying to keep her under his thumb, he was passionate and protective, he allowed her to learn about her own species when he could have just kept her in the dark. He promised to help her handle her own abilities, and he always threatened to kill others just to keep her, even if it was Matthew that he threatened. He was starting to think of her as something other than his personal property…

 

Khan looked up from his table and winced badly, his blue eyes widening. “Miss Dakota!”

 

Dakota blinked, turning around to look behind her before she was flanked by two Armada soldiers.

 

“We have orders on behalf of Tallest Matt-hew to confine you in your rooms until further notice.” Said one of the soldiers.

 

Dakota frowned, “Confine me in my rooms? Why?”

 

“Just come with us.” The other took a hold of her arm and they both ushered her out of her seat, leading her away. Dakota was horribly confused, looking back. “Khan!” She tried to pull away but they held her arms firmly.

 

Khan stumbled out of his seat and panicked, bringing his hands to his face. What was going on?

 

He stepped forward but then stopped, retreating to his lab until the walls began to flash red, the clear image of Tallest Matt-hew appearing all around the Massive.

 

“All those who wish to watch the execution of The Betrayer are to head down into the Arena in a half-hour. Execution will be broadcasted live everywhere within and outside the Empire’s borders, come down personally and reserve a seat for this once in a lifetime chance to watch yours truly battle The Betrayer in a fight to the death.” Matthew gestured to himself, the disguise flickering off and exposing his human form. “It’s going to be a great show, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.”

 

Dakota began to struggle after the transmission was cut, crying out. “Jinx? Matthew!” She was trying her hardest to wrench herself away but their hold was firm. “MATTHEW!”

 

“Subdue her!”

 

Dakota cried out when a pack arm appeared from behind one of the soldiers and gave her a good jolt of electricity, effectively stunning her. The two soldiers grunted at the new dead weight but continued to carry her back to her rooms.




Zetiya was piloting the ship, having tracked down the Massive with her own computer. They had a while to go before they could even use hyperdrive. The one useful feature they needed immediately was something that needed time charging up, the ship storing away needed power in order to perform the distance they needed.

 

Domino didn’t like that they had to wait, but there wasn’t any other choice. The ship wasn’t a good one, actually, it was one that Zetiya had fixed herself after it (and the pilot) had crashed on Retristè a long time ago.

 

Dib was also feeling the tension the rest of them were feeling, knowing that they had a specific timer that was counting down the minutes until hyperdrive was ready. It reminded him of those gruelling moments back on Earth when he had to wait for his own computer to finish making a maintenance update, back in the days when he was spying on Zim and using every bit of storage space on his computer for video footage.

 

He felt a small pang in his chest when he remembered Zim and his childhood with the alien, but it was less painful than it had been when Dib found him in his father’s lab. He had to thank Jinx for what he did the next time they had a chance to talk, if they got there in time to make sure he wasn’t killed.

 

Dib slowly got out of his seat and made his way into the bedroom, shutting the door and sitting down. Every time he thought about Zim he just couldn’t forget what he had seen in that lab. How utterly dissected he looked, how broken he was. Dib hated to think how many times the Irken was ripped open and put back together. He loathed to imagine what his years were like before his mind finally shattered. He dreaded to wonder if Zim was thinking about Dib the entire time. Dib’s nails dug into the edge of the mattress as he finally choked out a sob. Zim was probably waiting for Dib to come rescue him. Zim was probably wishing Dib would figure out where he was. Zim was probably screaming for him until his voice became hoarse. Dib continued to cry, trying to be as silent as possible as his body shook. He remembered telling the small Irken about how he was going to dissect his body and display him for the world to see, but back then he didn’t realize just how...wrong it was entirely. He suddenly hated himself for wanting to do that. To the most important person in his childhood. To the only person he ever considered a friend .

 

Dib was so unfocused he didn’t notice the door opening, and soon he felt the mattress dip. He winced, wiping away his tears with his hand. He had a good idea who it might be.

 

“This is the second I’ve seen you shed tears.” Domino said solemnly, “The last time you’ve done so you were expressing emotion over The Exile.”

 

Dib took a moment to breathe. “I can’t seem to stop thinking about him.” He breathed. “Ever since I discovered him, I always keep thinking about him.” He winced, “It hurt less when I thought he just left me entirely.”

 

Domino reached forward to lift Dib’s glasses off of his face so he could brush some remaining tears from his eyes. “I knew Zim long before he became The Exile.” He said then, flicking away the tears when they burned his skin. “We were all hatched around the same time. Red, Purple, Zim and I, we were minutes apart.”

 

Dib blinked, staring at Domino’s blurred image. “What was he like?”

 

Domino smirked, “Arrogant, full of himself…highly intelligent. He had this air about him, the knowledge that he could do no wrong, even if he did all the wrong things. He used to be a scientist before he was an Invader.”

 

“He told me about that...he created a monster that killed his previous Tallests.” Dib snorted in amusement, “He still sounded so proud about how his experiment still worked, despite who it killed.”

 

“He would.” Domino crossed his legs, settling his chin in his hands as he idly studied Dib’s glasses. “I left long before I could see him lay waste onto planet Irk, however. When I fled the Great Measuring.”

 

Dib blinked, reaching for his glasses. “What made you leave?”

 

“Aside from being a defective and holding treasonous thoughts against The Empire?” Domino quirked an antennae, smirking. “Red and Purple. They discovered what I really thought of the Empire and decided to use it against me. I was their plaything for many sweeps until Miyuki and then Spork was killed. I knew that if I stayed, they’d keep using me or eventually get bored of me and have me deleted.”

 

Dib grimaced as he put his glasses on, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have--”

 

“You needed to know eventually.” Domino said quietly, “Don’t apologize. They’re dead.”

 

A question formed in Dib’s mind and he considered asking it, weighing the pros and cons of the question before looking at the Irken. “Did they… mark you?”

 

Domino flinched, turning to face him. He opened his robe and displayed his chest, the Invader Class Symbol branded in red ink on the right side of his chest before he closed it again. “Red marked me, but I belonged to both of them.”

 

Dib winced at the sight, pulling down his sleeve and gazing at his tattoo. “It wasn’t like that with Zim. He marked me more for my personal safety than anything.”

 

Domino looked away, “I wouldn’t mind hearing about it.”

 

The man took a moment to think, shifting in his spot. “Well, he arrived on Earth when I was ten. At the time I claimed to be a Paranormal Investigator - a person who studies aliens and other cryptids. He was doing his damndest to take over and destroy Earth because he believed it was his mission, and I was so sure of myself that I was going to defeat him and save the planet. Though, either his own bravado stopped him or he did something completely stupid, or I did something stupid, and we ended up giving up only to come together when he thought of another stupid plan. It repeated over and over again for about two years, but over time, we went from being sworn enemies to...the strangest type of... friends . It was hard to understand, but eventually he was only acting out to get my attention. Everyone else thought we were in a relationship, which...at the time, ew.” He grimaced slightly, “Well, I wasn’t really popular with my peers. I was often bullied for my beliefs and targeted by others, and Zim became...angry because of it. He felt like...that…” Dib smiled then, “He felt like he was the only one allowed to torment me, and one day he just...demanded my wrist and branded me. It was fucking painful and I yelled at him for it, but the next day there was a change in our dynamic.” He shook his head then, “Anyone who tried to come after me, he lashed out at them. He started protecting me from those who wanted to attack me.”

 

Domino stayed quiet, but Dib’s words were impactful. He began to recall Red and Purple and how they never expanded the Empire’s borders when it was just right next to Retristè. They could have done it at any moment, and have taken his planet and his people. They could have taken him and recaptured him for their own needs, but they never did. They only kept the border looming there, as a reminder that the option was still on the table.

 

Were they really protecting him as well?

 

Domino didn’t want to think about that.

 

“That doesn’t sound like the Zim I had known.” Domino said then, filling the silence. “He never once thought of anyone but himself...but...he was going out of the way to mark you as his own to keep you safe.” He couldn’t think of it, but at the same time he believed Dib.

 

The man began to tear up again, “It went on until he vanished. I thought he left, I even called his Tallests. They told me the truth of his mission, and told me never to call them again, but I never got to see him until the day I went to rescue Jinx from my father’s labs…” He choked up, and Dib felt Domino pull him against his chest. “I just never got to tell him how much he meant to me.”

 

Domino sighed and ran his fingers through Dib’s hair, “I’m sure he knew, in his own strange way.”

 

Dib wasn’t so sure, especially when Zim was subjected to years and years of experiments hoping for Dib to rescue him.

 

He secretly hated Gaz because of it, because she was his sister and she knew how much Zim meant to Dib, and to just keep that secret for so long….

 

They were never all that close.

 

Someone suddenly slammed their palm against the door, “Stop fuckin’ around, somethin’s happenin’!” It was Crux this time, and both Domino and Dib straightened up, glancing at each other before making their way out of the room.

 

Up in the front of the ship, over the loading screen for the hyperdrive, was another window that displayed the Irken Armada insignia, words tracking along the bottom of that window in Irken and other languages.

 

“They’re broadcastin’ somethin’ important if it’s going out to everyone in the Empire.” Zetiya said with a hint of concern. “This has to be about Jinx.”

 

Dib read the scrolling Irken, “Please Stand By For a Very Special Transmission From Your Tallest.”

 

Domino’s antennae twitched back and he took a seat, “I have a sick feeling about this.”

 

Suddenly, the screen buzzed and a picture of an arena came into view, surrounded by Irkens that reached up to the rafters. On the highest throne in the room sat Tallest Matt-hew, in his human form. He smiled when the camera zoomed in on him and finally stood up.

 

“I’m sure you’re wondering who this body of meat is in the Tallest’s throne,” He began, grinning and flicking his fingers. The Irken disguise flickered on, “You guessed it, I’m your Tallest Matt-hew, but in my language, I go by Matthew .” The disguise dissolved. “I’m broadcasting to every single one of you today because we just caught a dangerous killer that we all know as The Betrayer.” He let the Irkens gasp in shock around him, waiting for their voices to become a whisper, “There’s some beef that him and I have, and it all goes down to when I used to live on Earth. I won’t bore you with the details but the Execution you are about to witness today is something that we should have done a long time ago. Today, you’re witnessing a first in your Empire’s history: An Execution brought on by the Tallest’s very own hands. Me and The Betrayer are going to battle, bloodshed will be had, and I will be killing him myself!” There was a loud cheer for Matthew and he drank it in, chuckling. “I encourage betting amongst the ranks, feel free to try and win some monies, because you’re about to be in for a great show.”

 

“They’re goin’ to fight to the death.” Zetiya said in shock, “No Tallest has taken a personal part in any execution.”

 

“Matt-hew isn’t a conventional Tallest.” Domino said thoughtfully, watching the meter in the corner of the screen become full. “We’re ready for hyperdrive, now let’s get there and try and make sure the idiot won’t be dying today.” He turned to Dib, “What military training does Matt-hew have?”

 

Dib frowned, “He was in the Marines. It’s known as my country’s most violent and dangerous branch of military. I don’t know how long he has been in it, but him and Jinx, I think, are evenly matched.”

 

Domino frowned, “Zet, take us into hyperdrive.”

 

Zeitya grinned, “Buckle up lovelies, we’re headin’ for the Massive.” She pressed a button and pulled a lever, and suddenly space and time sped up drastically.

 

Dib cried out and grasped onto the chair, but Crux was launched towards the back before he could strap himself in. Dib grimaced as he laughed maniacally.

 

He hoped they’d get there before either of them were killed.




Once Matthew was done speaking he made his way down the steps, “Bring out The Betrayer!” He bellowed, and the Irkens around him were on their feet, hollering and cheering for their Tallest as Matthew descended into the large arena. Across from him, a door was opened and Jinx was forcefully shoved into the ring, the Irken hearing the many loud boos and hisses that accompanied his arrival.

 

The large crowd of Irkens erupted into a ruckus while many were placing their bets for Tallest Matt-hew to win, and there were few that bet for Jinx, table-headed-service-drones included. The arena was full of life, everyone waiting with eager bloodlust while Matthew and Jinx met each other in the center of the arena.

 

Jinx couldn’t care less about the crowd, in fact, he was pleased with it. When they saw him tearing out Matthew’s eyes from their sockets then he would need witnesses. He had been waiting for this exact moment. “I hope you gave Dakota your last goodbyes.” He said with a shark-like grin. “Because you’re never going to see her ever again.”

 

Matthew took a deep, steady breath, feeling encouraged and invigorated by the crowd of onlookers that cheered for him. He smirked at Jinx’s words, shaking his head. “The only one who won’t see her ever again is you, but she will see you one last time, when I present her your dismembered head .” He crouched after that, putting his hands into fists. “Let’s get this done and over with.”

 

Jinx cracked his knuckles and shook out the tension in his shoulders, growling threateningly, getting into his own attacking stance and beginning to circle Matthew, taking in the other’s form and chuckling. Matthew kept his eyes on Jinx, waiting for the Irken to make the first move.

 

He didn’t have to wait for long, as Jinx shot forward like a viper attacking its prey, his own fists shooting for Matthew’s face. Matthew managed to dodge the first attack, slamming his fist into Jinx’s face as soon as he had a clear shot. Jinx snarled upon the hit and reacted, lashing out with his claws. Again, Matthew pulled away before he could be cut, effectively dodging him. It happened again and again until Jinx stepped back. Matthew laughed. “You’re eager .” He mocked.

 

The two of them faced each other again and this time it was Matthew’s turn, lashing out with a kick that Jinx countered with his own. Matthew jumped back, keeping his battle stance. He lashed out again, lunging forward and trying to kick him swiftly into the side. Jinx barked out a laugh and blocked it, lashing forward with his claws and slicing the man’s cheek. The two of them were on each other instantly, exchanging fists, one for the other, diving, dipping, dodging each other until one or the other made contact. Jinx caught Matthew after the third try, causing the man to bite his tongue. Matthew reacted with his own fist slamming square into Jinx’s face, causing the Irken to reel back, hissing.

 

Matthew brushed the trickling blood from his cheek, his pack opening up as two gleaming sharp extensions emerged from behind him. The crowd was erupting in screams and cries.

 

“Oh so we’re going to fight dirty.” Jinx snarled, two of his own extensions emerging from his own pack, the sharp tips catching the light. “I’m all for that.” He flashed Matthew a grin, the other two extensions appearing from behind him.

 

Very eager.” Matthew smirked, activating the rest of his pack legs and launching himself at Jinx, using the legs to propel him upwards as he attempted to kick the Irken in the face. Instead of dodging Jinx instead grabbed his extended leg. The action was expected, and Matthew used his extensions to flip himself around, catching Jinx from behind and using one to stab the Irken through the shoulder. Jinx hissed out in pain and released the human’s leg, twisting around to lash out at Matthew, managing to slice the other’s side.

 

The Irkens in the arena were glued to the battle as Matthew and Jinx attacked each other with brutal force, managing to spill each other’s blood as they continued the deadly and thrilling dance that they intended on finishing. The fight was clearly broadcasted throughout the Massive, but a certain little Irken was trying his best not to watch the bloodshed, knowing that he would become light-headed upon seeing the carnage. He could hear them, though, the screams and snarls and the sounds of metal against metal between the jeers and cries of the crowd.

 

Instead of proceeding with his work, Khan was instead trying to find a way to get to Dakota. He knew that the door to the Tallest’s quarters were guarded right now by two Armada soldiers. He had seen them on a sweep through the hallway as he pretended to be rushing through.

 

“She’s being contained.” A voice spoke through the communicator he was holding. He was all alone in the laboratory, his colleagues having went to see the execution.

 

“That’s what Tallest Matt-hew wanted.” He said nervously, still keeping an eye on the windows just in case. “He knows she would interfere. She still cares about The Betrayer.”

 

“We’re almost close to the Massive, thank you for relaying the blueprints we need, those secret passages he prattled on about will be useful to us. The majority of the ship is currently distracted and it would be a perfect time to get Dakota out without anyone knowing. Do what you can to get her out. Our focus is to retrieve her and Jinx, and once we get her Jinx will follow.”

 

“What about the Execution? What will happen when one of them--”

 

“We can only hope that neither of them will be dead by the time we get there. We’re running on borrowed time as it is. What I need you to do is try and get those soldiers away from the door and use the code Zet has given you. It’ll override whatever code they authorized.”

 

As the Massive was a ship created with Vortian tech, all it took was a Vortian to effectively hack into the ship’s defenses and make some adjustments. It worked once when the Resisty had managed to take control of the ship’s core.

 

Khan flinched nervously, tapping the surface of the table he stood at. “I think I have a way in there.”

 

“Good, your help is greatly appreciated and will be recognized.”

 

The line cut after that, and Khan took a slightly steady breath, rolling up his sleeves.




“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Zet spoke up as Domino cut the line, “This plan of yours sounds crazy.”

 

Domino quirked an antennae, “What do you mean? She’s the only one who can stop the battle. Once Khan frees her, then Dakota will stop the two idiots from maiming each other to death.”

 

Zetiya looked doubtful, looking over at Dib. “What do you think, hun? You know the girl better than we do.”

 

Dib took his eyes off of the image of the Massive, frowning worriedly. “She cares for both of them, I’m not sure it might help, her interfering just might make it worse.”

 

Domino listened quietly, putting his arm on Zetiya’s shoulder, “Take us in.” He commanded then, his eyes flickering to the surrounding ships. They weren’t even paying their ship any mind, everyone was too invested in the fight of the century.




The sight was becoming too gruesome to even look at anymore. The fighting had become a bloodbath, each party blinded in their need to fully kill the other so badly that even the Irkens around them were becoming possessed by the want to see a brutal killing. Jinx’s robes were tattered from the attacks, his torso and arms coated in his own blood while his face was scarred from the top right to the lower left. Matthew didn’t look any better, his nose trickling in blood after Jinx slammed his fist into it, his own robes were coated in his blood and he could have sworn that he popped his shoulder from its socket. The blood was pumping and it was all they could hear over the chants of those watching them. It nearly looked like Jinx was going to win when he had pinned Matthew to the floor and began wailing on him, until Matthew ended up getting the other hand and attempted to gore his opponent. The only difference was that Jinx was still aware of his surroundings, while Matthew was blind to everything but his foe, the rage and lust for death was mixing inside of him like a dangerous cocktail that he could taste just on the tip of his tongue. He advanced and attacked with all he could and soon Jinx was on the defensive.

 

Neither was going to stop until the other was dead.

 

Dakota was in tears over the sight, unable to look away from the transmission over the airwaves as the atmosphere trembled from her abilities. She had been trying to force her way out of the room ever since it started, screaming at the top of her lungs and pleading for someone to hear her. She tried hard to open the door with her own powers but it wasn’t enough, not even throwing objects into the door and effectively denting it wasn’t working. The remote to the viewing screen had been a casualty in her tirade, and after that she couldn’t find any possible way to turn off the broadcasted execution. All she could do was cry and watch as Matthew was going bezerk on Jinx and feeling helpless as the Irken was losing his appendages to protect himself with.

 

The Matthew she was looking at wasn’t her Matthew anymore. No, somewhere the Matthew that she knew was dying quickly and becoming warped and vicious. It wasn’t even Matthew, it was some other person. Someone cruel and vindictive wearing the likeness of the man she once knew and respected. The memories she possessed were slowly being torn asunder, and she was finding herself pleading for Jinx to turn the tides, only to watch him struggle as the Tallest was trying to make good on his promise to kill him.

 

Suddenly, there was a jingle sound and the doors had automatically opened. Dakota jumped in place, her eyebrows raising as she turned to the door, seeing Khan stand there, nervous and looking around as if anyone would jump out at any time. “Khan!” She went over to the door immediately, leaning out and noticing the two soldiers passed out alongside the walls. “What…?”

 

“I gave them snacks spiked with s-sedatives, they’re not d-dead.” He twitched violently as he said it, skittering back as Dakota took a step out. She instantly started running down the hall, making Khan yelp and activate his own pack legs to catch up to her. “M-Miss Dakota where are you going--”

 

“I’m going to stop the Execution.” She said quickly, almost tripping over herself as she headed down the escalators.

 

Khan stopped quickly and twitched, whining before he resumed his pace, catching up with the woman and grasping her arm. She yelped, “Khan--”

 

“This way is quicker!” He cried out, pulling her into his arms and launching himself from the edge of the floor in a split-second bout of bravery that washed over him. He shrieked when he realized what he was doing but caught onto a beam quickly, the two of them dangling over a certain floor before he pulvalted the two of them onto it. There were Irkens scattered around staring at them in bewilderment, but he quickly ignored it, letting Dakota go. “I can’t go further than this.” He told her, “Follow the screaming!”

 

Dakota quickly looked relieved, running again and following the distant cheering. She kept turning different hallways until it became louder and louder, finding a group of Irkens surrounding the door itself. Once she was there her presence seemed to startle them, and she crammed herself into the doorway, Irkens immediately stepping aside to let her through.

 

Jinx was on his last appendage, using it to parry and dodge every oncoming attack from Matthew. His shoulder was still bleeding and he was losing his energy, doing his best to keep Matthew from stabbing him.

 

“Why don’t you just give up now?” Matthew snarled, “I promise to give you the illusion of dignity when I finally crush your skull.”

 

Jinx hissed out when he felt a slash to his side, covering the open wound with his arm. Matthew had backed him into a corner by now, poised at the ready. Though, above both of them the crowd began to strangely become silent. Jinx noticed her first, the glimpse of black hair as Dakota was struggling to get into the arena.

 

“Dakota!” He shouted, catching Matthew off-guard. The man turned, going still at the sight of the woman entering the arena.

 

“Jinx!” She cried out, falling onto her side but quickly getting to her feet.

 

Matthew felt someone shove him aside, and he snarled, watching hatefully as Jinx headed for his Dakota. Rage filled his senses and he screamed, charging for the Irken to gore him from behind.

 

Dakota’s eyes widened at the sight and just as Jinx had gotten to her she cried out, using her abilities to shove Jinx out of the way, only a split second before Matthew’s pack legs speared right through her. The Irkens who witnessed it went dead silent, and it only took a moment until Matthew realized just what he had done, “Dakota-” He breathed.

 

Dakota gave a sharp inhale, when the man removed his appendages from her stomach, the woman’s eyes filling up with tears as she stared at him and collapsed to the floor, “Matthew?” She whimpered.

 

“DAKOTA!” Jinx cried out, scrambling over to her as Matthew slowly backed away, the man wide-eyed in complete numb shock as the Irken scooped the woman up into his arms. Her blood was starting to paint the floor, and all he could do was repeat her name in utter disbelief that he had attacked her.

 

Jinx grasped the woman into his arms, looking around, “I need a doctor! I NEED A DOCTOR!” He hurried over to the steps that Matthew had descended from, forcing his way through the crowd desperately. “Take me to the infirmary!” He cried out, demanding for help. A few shaken Irkens hurried from their positions and called for help on their coms, leading Jinx out of the arena and to where he needed to go.

 

Matthew felt cold, cold and sick. He continued to stand there until his legs felt too weak to keep him upright. His eyes were on the pool of very human blood that was once Dakota. 

 

“Don’t think I haven’t noticed. You...you’re changing.”

 

He let out a strangled sound, his hands finding his face as he ran his hands through his hair, reliving the moment he speared her with every second that passed. He didn’t notice his people around him, all the Irkens breaking out into whispers and hushed murmurs, confused and horribly conflicted.

 

“Dakota…”

Chapter Text

He didn’t really know how long he had been in the same spot, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. The Irkens who were once cheering on the bloodshed had thinned out to congregate at the infirmary, leaving him nearly alone.

 

“You were nice and fine up until you saw the Control Brains, and every day since then you’d been slowly changing into something else."

 

Dakota was right. Why didn’t he see it before? She could see it clearly. He was changing. He used to be so different. He used to be so kind. His aggressive nature was never so overwhelming that he had forgotten himself, and now he had gone so far as to nearly kill the woman he loved. He felt sick just remembering it, he had completely lashed out in a fit of jealous rage and she was caught in the backlash. What if this happened again? He couldn’t bear to think that he would get worse within time...

 

“Tallest Matt-hew.”

 

Matthew winced at the voice, looking down at his gauntlet and seeing a small screen. It was one of his soldiers. “We have reports of The Renegade Tallest and a human inside the Massive, they're reported trying to find you mate and The Betrayer in the infirmary. The Renegade’s Second In Command is inside the loading deck. What are your orders?”

 

Matthew looked away from the screen. “Leave them be.” He said quietly.

 

“But my Tallest, The Renegade is our biggest Enemy outside the Empire. Catching him--”

 

“I said leave them be.” Matthew’s voice raised, “No one is to act against them on my orders. If you do then I will launch you out of the fucking cannon!”

 

“Affirmative, my Tallest.”

 

The connection cut after that, and Matthew shifted in his spot, sitting against the wall of the arena and leaning his head back, allowing tears to fall.


 

Dib and Domino ditched the plan, to hell with getting past everything privately. As they passed the hallways Irkens all around were parting and crying out at their presence. Zeitya had stayed in the loading deck while Crux was tending to the ship Jinx arrived in, but as soon as they approached the Massive the lot of them caught the tail-end of the entire battle. The plan dissolved as soon as they witnessed Matthew bludgeon Dakota with his own pack legs, and they had foregone their disguises in order to find her and Jinx.

 

Irkens scattered at the mere sight of them, as Domino was a well-known presence among the Irken Empire and was rightfully feared by every Irken. Time was their biggest enemy as they maneuvered through the ship.

 

Dib finally stopped and hurried over to an Irken, speaking in their own language to converse with the other. The Irken that was listening was wide-eyed and shocked that a human was speaking their language perfectly, Domino having stopped to listen. When the Irken replied to Dib he said ‘thank you’ in his own language, turning and directing Domino towards an escalator.

 

“You never told me you spoke Irken.” Domino said as they began their way up.

 

“Everyone seemed to have translators, so I never felt the need to.” Dib answered, his nerves alert and jumping in anticipation. He got off the escalator quickly, directing Domino down another hall. The farther they went the more and more Irkens were gathered, almost a group that murmured to each other as they surrounded the infirmary. The doors were shut but the window displayed everything, Jinx screaming at an Irken as mechanical arms worked on patching up Dakota. Jinx looked stressed, running his hands over his face and looking back at the window before doing a double-take, his eyes freezing at the sight of Dib’s presence and shouting at an Irken to open the door.

 

Dib jumped, startled, looking from Domino back to Jinx as the door opened to an Irken Med Tech.

 

“You.” He pointed at Dib, “You’re human, yes?”

 

Dib blinked, “Y-yes.”

 

“Get inside.” The Irken commanded, soon realizing that Domino was with him and stilling for a moment before stepping aside for the taller Irken. Even if he wasn’t the Tallest, Domino’s height still held authority.

 

“Thank Fuck.” Jinx breathed, going over to Dib. “She needs blood. She needs a lot of blood.”

 

Dib flinched, “Blood transfusion? I don’t even know if Dakota and I are compatible!”

 

“Explain.” Domino spoke up.

 

Dib looked at Dakota’s body, “Well, on Earth we have different blood types. A, B, O, AB, and then there’s positive and negative, only certain blood types can be compatible with their blood types, unless it’s a special type. Blood type O is universal, but the other types are--”

 

“I don’t have fracking time for this.” Another Med Tech scowled, grabbing a syringe with one hand, “Give me your arm.”

 

Dib jumped in place and hurriedly took off his jacket and held out his arm for her, wincing badly when the Irken none-too-gently stuck in the syringe and took out enough for a sample.

 

“What I’m hoping is that the Meekrob genetics inside the girl is enough to combat with the inconsistencies with another human’s blood type.” She took the blood over to a machine and placed it into a dish.

 

Dib rubbed his arm and looked over at Dakota, who was on a respirator and some kind of stasis unit that was keeping her alive. He let out a small whimper, tearing up again. He really didn’t want to lose another friend.

 

The room was eerily silent save for the heart monitor until the machine let out a fun jingle, approving the blood. The Irken turned back to Dib and Domino, pointing to the bed next to Dakota’s. “You’re going to need to lie down.”

 

Dib nodded and shrugged himself out of his shirt, moving to the table and laying down. The female hooked him up to sensors and readied the needed equipment before taking the needed caution to siphon his blood. She then did the same to Dakota’s body, which was still attempting to heal itself, but was having trouble with how much blood she was missing.

 

Domino stood there, quiet, looking over at Jinx and roaming his eyes over the Irken’s form. He looked worse for wear, coated in blood and wounds. Domino then snapped his fingers towards the first Med Tech in the room, gaining his attention. “Give me a medical kit.” He demanded, making the Irken flinch badly and retrieving Domino what he needed.

 

Jinx wasn’t taking his eyes off of Dakota, too focused on her and her health to think about his own. When Domino grabbed his good arm Jinx attempted to wrench himself away.

 

“She’s going to live.” Domino said softly, right behind Jinx now.

 

“She wouldn’t have gotten hurt if I didn’t go in to get her.” Jinx replied hollowly.

 

“She went to stop it because she didn’t wish for you to die.” Domino countered, “Now allow me to mend your wounds. It wouldn’t do her any good if she wakes up and you’re dead. It defeats the purpose of saving someone.”

 

Jinx finally tore his eyes from Dakota, nodding silently and moving to the bed across from her and Dib. Domino smirked slightly and opened the medical kit, working on fixing up his wounds.

 

“Tell me what I did was the stupidest thing ever.” Jinx said quietly, looking at Domino.

 

The taller Irken shook his head, “You, my friend, are experiencing a change in your coding.” He said factually, “You did what you did out of worry. You are now feeling guilt. Your experiencing illegal emotions like sympathy and love. Congratulations, you’re a defective.”

 

Jinx inhaled sharply, turning his head to look back at Dakota. He mouthed the word ‘love’ before shying his eyes away, deep in thought.


  

Time seemed to go as slow as possible, but the hours waned on. Irkens still surrounded the infirmary window, their eyes on the Renegade Tallest and The Betrayer, mumbling and whispering about Da-ko-ta and questioning if she was still alive. They were worried and frightened, wondering what was going to happen now. Eventually, another joined them, the Irkens around him skittering aside and some running away to return to their task.

 

"How long will it be until the programming on your pack will overtake every shred of humanity that you have and leave you just like the rest of them?"

 

Matthew looked tired, with bags under his eyes among the many bruises and bloodstains that marred his body. He stared blankly through the window, his eyes on Dakota’s bed. Soon his presence was noticed, and Jinx shot to his feet from the other side of the room, baring his teeth and moving towards the door until Domino got between them. The taller Irken pointed him back to the bed and it took a while until Jinx decided to obey, still keeping his narrowed eyes on Matthew. Domino sighed, rolling the tenseness off of his shoulders before leaving the room to come face to face with Matthew.

 

“Matthew.” Domino spoke first.

 

“You must be The Renegade Tallest.” Matthew took note of how tall Domino was, at least two feet taller than he was.

 

“The name’s Domino.” The Irken clarified, studying Matthew’s arms and the tattoos covering them.

 

The two of them fell into silence then, Matthew feeling a whole lot smaller and horrible than he was before. He was under this moment of clarity and he had to use it before it disappeared.

 

“Look,” Domino said, “I understand--”

 

“I want you to take her.” Matthew interrupted him.

 

Domino’s antennae twitched, “I’m sorry?”

 

“Dakota.” He clarified, “I...when she’s stable enough to be moved, I want you to take her with you.” He glanced away, “The sooner the better, before I’m forced to move against you.”

 

Domino watched him steadily. He could see the guilt and shame in the man’s eyes, the regret over what he had done. “Very well.” He turned away to go back inside.

 

“Wait.” Matthew stopped him, looking towards Jinx. “Make sure he takes care of her.” He said then, his voice breaking. “I don’t want to hear about any abuse or neglect of any kind or I’ll come find him myself and end his life. Dakota…” He paused, “Dakota deserves to be happy.”

 

Dakota loved Jinx since the start.

 

How could I be so blind?

 

Domino listened, nodding slowly, “We’ll be gone as soon as she’s not critical, I have a doctor on our planet that can watch over her.”

 

Matthew nodded, “Good…” He went back into silence, turning away, “And Dib…” He looked back through the window, towards the man next to Dakota. “He’s a very bright kid, make sure he’ll be okay.”

 

Domino smiled slightly, “Don’t worry, Matthew, he’s in good hands.”

 

Their eyes met after that, and soon Matthew realized what Domino meant. The recognition made Matthew smile slightly, although it didn’t reach his eyes. “Figured he’d go for a fucking alien.” He stepped away then, allowing Domino to go back inside the room as he made his way further down the hall.


 

It took two more hours until Dakota was well enough to be moved, and the four of them were able to return to the ship without any trouble. Crux had left with the run down ship while the rest of them took Dib’s ship, using the medical room to keep Dakota stable.

 

Matthew kept himself distant, away from everything, reflecting on his own life, Dakota’s meaning in his life, and everyone else. He watched as Dib’s ship distanced itself from the massive before going into hyperdrive, feeling his heart ache.

 

It was better this way, he thought.

 

Matthew sighed, unable to stay in the control room and making his way back to his quarters. He began to pace for a while, reassuring himself that this was how things should be. He was letting her go. He was making sure nothing happened to her. He was keeping her safe.

 

He wasn’t going to be selfish like Everett was.

 

Everett…

 

Abigail and Tabitha.

 

His mind wandered to his children, wondering what they were doing right now. It was most likely still summertime on Earth, wasn’t it? Were they asking about him? Did they think about him? Did they miss him?

 

Matthew pressed a button on his gauntlet, and a screen came up in his room. “I want you to establish a connection to the planet Earth.”

 

The navigator behind the screen quirked an antennae. “Earth? No one willingly made a contact to Earth, my Tallest.”

 

Matthew frowned, “Well I’m making one right now, and keep it on speed dial, it won’t be the last time.” He hoped he was going to be answered by who he thought was going to answer, watching the screen go into static before someone finally picked up. Before him was the purple-haired woman herself, her own brown eyes focusing on his presence, almost in shock.

 

“Mr. Drake, you’ve contacted us through the Irken communication signal.”

 

Trust the Membrane Corporation to take everything from Zim’s base after everything’s said and done.

 

“I want you to patch me to Everett,” said Matthew. “I know you can do that. Oh, and make it so I can have a direct connection.”

 

Gaz glared at him, “You’re not planning on making any visits, are you?”

 

“I can’t really do that when I’m in charge of an Empire.” He smirked at her split-second shock.

 

The woman was inclined to ask before she decided not to, “Remind me to get back to you about that. I’ll give you what you want, just so you don’t bother us every time you need it.” She typed in something on her control panel and soon her image was cut and the static returned. There was a waiting tone and Matthew stood still, patient for now.

 

“Matthew?” Everett’s face was the first thing he saw, and he had to bite back the bitterness that he felt over her. Matthew took a steadying breath, reminding himself that she was still their mother.

 

“Everett.” He said evenly, “I want to speak to our children.”

 

The woman seemed to think about it, tempted to ask him about where he was but reminding herself that he wasn’t calling to talk to her. She quietly nodded and left the room, and soon Matthew was greeted with his children. They looked...older… He blinked astoundedly, because it felt like only months since he last saw them. Their hair was longer, dyed a different color. Abby had piercings . Come to think of it, Everett's hair was different as well.

 

“Dad!” Tabby looked excited, but Abby was cautious. “I knew you’d call us! I kept telling Abby that you’d call us and here you are!”

 

Matthew felt warmth in his chest, looking upon his children fondly. “My little monsters. It’s been...so long. Honestly, I felt like I was only gone for a month or two.”

 

“It’s been two years.” Abby said flatly, “What were you doing all this time?”

 

Matthew was quiet for a moment, mouthing the years before clearing his throat, “Well, it’s been a wild ride, but you remember what Ms. Membrane told you, right?”

 

“You went on a space adventure!” Tabby grinned, “Are you still in space?”

 

Matthew nodded, “Well, let me start from the beginning…”


 

Dakota’s eyes slowly opened and she instantly shut them, the lights were blinding and she had to look away. The last thing she remembered was Jinx and Matthew fighting...and…

 

Dakota sat up quickly, which she regretted doing again, letting out a pained cry. Someone clicked their tongue and two strong hands gently pushed her back down. “You’re not completely healed yet, female.”

 

The voice was recognizable instantly and Dakota looked up, “Jinx?”

 

Jinx smiled down at her, running a finger along the side of her face, “Who else?”

 

“You’re not dead…” She breathed, looking around. “Where’s Matthew--” She stopped quickly, remembering what had happened. She moved her hand down to her stomach. “He...did he really…” Her eyes welled up with tears.

 

Jinx sat next to her, sighing. “He did, and if it weren’t for Dib you would have. He gave you much of his own blood so your regeneration would kick in.”

 

“Where’s Matthew now?” She asked in a whisper, trying not to cry too much.

 

Jinx’s antennae lowered in annoyance over the mention of the male, “I save your life and all you can talk about is that piece of trash?”

 

“Shut up.” Dakota laughed despite herself, even if it hurt. “I’m only asking because you’re still here and alive .”

 

Jinx frowned and rested his hand on her chest, feeling her heartbeat. She was so fragile… “He told us to leave the Massive and never come back.”

 

Dakota blinked, confused, “...he told ...you to leave?”

 

“You as well, he made sure we took you with us.” The Irken added, not showing any emotion over the words.

 

Matthew told Jinx to leave and to take Dakota with him. Dakota didn’t know what to think, wondering if she heard him right. “Are you joking or am I on drugs?”

 

Jinx straightened up, “According to Domino that’s what he said. He apparently told me to take care of you or else he’d come find me and kill me.” He smirked, “I believe I’m forced to take care of you now, my little fragile female.”

 

Dakota’s cheeks darkened and she looked away. Matthew almost killed her… Then Matthew made sure Jinx and her left the Massive without any trouble…

 

This was his apology and goodbye.

 

She began to smile, trying to sit up as far as possible. “He didn’t lose his humanity.” She said softly, taking Jinx’s hand and pulling it up to her lips so she could kiss his wounded knuckles. “You came to the Massive to bring me back.”

 

“Of course I did.” Jinx said it like it was obvious. “You’re my property, I couldn’t stand you being away from me.”

 

Dakota smiled slightly, reading in between the lines. “I’m not your property at all, am I?” She questioned after a moment of silence. “You actually care about me. After all this time, you see me as something more than property, more than the tattoo on my neck.”

 

Jinx removed his hand from hers and placed it behind her neck, leaning forward to place a tender kiss to her forehead. “I told you the first time, female, I would have marked you if you didn’t have it in the first place.”

 

They became silent after that, Dakota raising her head just enough to kiss him on the lips and reaching out to hook her arms around his neck.

 

She remembered the first day they met, the moment she wished upon the stars and suddenly he fell into her life. Dakota didn't know by how much Jinx became so important to her.

 

All it took was a cartoon, and the tattoo that changed her life for both the better and the worse.

 

She didn't regret a thing.