Galactic conquest was supposed to be simple.
Aboard the Massive, Tallest Red stood at a control panel inside the communications room. Around him were dozens of Irken personnel, typing away at their posts. Doing everything in their power to keep the Massive on its flight path. Light chatter could be heard throughout the room as the crew discussed their current situation. Red took a small glance around the room to be sure everyone was doing their job. Not that he had any doubt. After all, they had the high honor of working alongside their Tallest on their most important journey across the galaxy. Plus, the most recent situation seemed to have everyone on edge. The entirety of the crew on the Massive were fully committed to their posts as they tried to assess the damage.
It's not every day that some scum sucking moron dares to attack the Armada.
Satisfied that none of his crew were slacking off, Red continued to sift through many different windows on the holographic display. He had already seen the files on them before. It had been a long time since he had ever even heard of the group, so he needed a quick refresher. He couldn't help but chuckle as he read the dossier.
"What a stupid name for a resistance group," Red mused. Purple, standing beside him and eating a bag of donuts, agreed.
"I know, right? You'd think a Vortian scientist could come up with something better."
Red continued looking through every file they had on 'The Resisty.' He wasn't really sure what he was looking for. There wasn't much, just a few brief articles on the known resistance members. Twelve of them, to be exact. As far as Red could tell from the files, there weren't any other members. They all seemed to operate from one large ship. Lard Nar, a Vortian, was presumably the leader of the pack. Despite being a member of one of the smartest species in the galaxy, it was clear that he was in over his head. The Resisty were certainly not a threat to the Irken Empire in any way, shape, or form.
At least, that's what Red had believed. Until a few hours ago, that is.
"What's up with you, anyway?" Purple asked, turning to Red. "We already drove them back. Most of their fighters were taken out by our own. What's got you so worried?" Purple happily shoved another donut down his gullet, munching loudly. Red shook his head and sighed.
"This wasn't a small scale attack," Red replied, glaring at Purple. He punched in a few commands on the console, and the hologram shifted to a map of the Armada flight plan. On it was, of course, The Massive. The incredibly large ship was surrounded by thousands of support ships, fighters, and fuelers following the path of the Massive. Their job was to protect the Massive and neutralize any potential threats. Irken text appeared in many places, pointing to specific ships and locations within the Armada.
Red continued, pointing up at the display. "Look at the amount of damage they did. We lost hundreds of ships. The Massive itself has taken significant damage. We're lucky they didn't blow out the engines! Do you have any idea what that battle cost us?" Purple cocked his head in confusion.
"So what? We won. We're alive and they're dead. Here, want a donut?" Purple held up the frosted treat to Red, who growled angrily.
"You don't get it, do you?" Red said, frustrated. He slapped the donut out of his partner's hand. It landed on the metal floor. Purple looked at him in shock.
"Hey, I was gonna eat that if you didn't!" Purple accused. Red ignored him and pressed on.
"Only a few of the ships attacking us were confirmed to be Resisty members. Over half of them were unknown. They've had a long time to build their resistance. There's no way they're still the same tiny group that used to pester us." Red paused for a moment and closed his eyes. "No one's ever managed such an attack against us."
"So?" Purple shrugged. "We're the freaking Irken Empire! There's no way anyone can beat us." Red shook his head.
"Did you already forget about-"
"My Tallest!" The communications officer interrupted Red, sounding frantic. "We have an incoming transmission!"
This peaked Red's interest.
"Trace it," he demanded. "Where is it coming from?" The officer tapped a few commands away and looked back at Red with a confused expression.
"Um, I'm sorry sir. The signal is being jammed. I can't trace it." Red sighed in disappointment. So much for that. Well, assuming this was someone from the Resisty, maybe he could at least get some information from them.
"Bring it up on screen," Red relented. He nearly had a conniption once the image was brought up. He could see Purple about to hyperventilate in his peripheral.
It was not the Resisty. Red desperately wished it was.
"Zim." Red narrowed his eyes at the screen. Sure enough, on screen was a green Irken 'soldier' wearing a red striped shirt. His eyes were narrow, his mouth in a vicious scowl. His antennae lay flat against his head, reaching back behind his neck. Red noticed Zim's strange demeanor, but put it away in the back of his mind. It didn't matter anyways, he was far too busy for this.
"My Tallest." Zim spat the title at them. Red's eyes widened at that. He had never heard that tone from Zim before. He shook his head and addressed the phony invader.
"What do you want, Zim? We're kind of in the middle of something here." Zim made no reaction. There was no blabbering about how great his Tallest were. No excited cheers as Zim unveiled his newest (stupid) plan. Instead, Zim stared at them unflinchingly. After a moment, Zim responded.
"This will only take a moment. I just have a simple question." Red looked at Purple and met his eyes. Purple just shrugged. Red turned back to the screen.
"Alright, fine, What is it?"
"How long until you reach Earth?" Zim's voice was anything but innocent. Red once again turned to Purple, who once again shrugged before going back to his donuts.
"Uh, I'm not sure Zim," Red replied warily. "We kinda have a situation going on here, and I-"
"HOW LONG? ZIM DEMANDS THAT YOU TELL!" Zim shouted, his eyes closed tightly in fury. With that, just about everyone in the room gasped. Red could feel the eyes of every crew member staring at him and Purple, waiting to see their response. Purple dropped his donuts in shock. Red narrowed his eyes. Something wasn't right here, but he had to get back to overseeing the repair of the Massive. He needed to get Zim out of his antennae as soon as possible.
"Alright Zim," Red said, staring at the display and watching Zim closely. "Look, I dunno what's gotten into you, but if you need to know so badly then we'll check the flight path and call you back in a few. Deal?" Zim's eyes widened ever so slightly at that. Silence permeated the room as Zim assumingly thought over the proposition. When he found whatever it was he was looking for in his thoughts, he narrowed his eyes again.
"I see," Zim said quietly. After another brief bout of silence, Zim chuckled at his leaders. "Well, don't bother, because I have already seen your entire flight plan."
"WHAT?" Red and Purple shouted in unison. Zim continued scowling at them.
"I have spent quite a while collecting enough power to jack into the Massive's network," Zim explained. "There's a lot of interesting information in there, you know. Things you probably didn't want me to see." Red took in a deep breath.
Well, there goes our entertainment.
Before Red could respond, Purple jumped in.
"Hey! You can't do that! That's illegal!" Purple pointed up accusingly at Zim, before looking back at Red. "Um, I mean, that is illegal right? 'Cuz if it's not, it probably should be." Red decided to try to save the situation. He wasn't sure if it would work, but he knew how stupid Zim was. He'd believe anything his Almighty Tallest would tell him.
"Zim," Red said in the nicest way he could muster. He was going to have to play this one safe. "Clearly the flight plans you somehow sto- er... gathered from our database is out of date. If you like I can send you the upd-"
"SILENCE! ENOUGH OF YOUR FILTHY LIES!" This struck a nerve in Red. Now he was pissed. There was no way he was going to allow an Irken to speak to his masters in that way.
"Alright Zim, that's enough!" Red bellowed. "Stand down!"
"I will no longer take orders from you, Red."
Another collective gasp from the occupants in the communications room. Red and Purple, for their part, were too stunned to even reply. Not a single Irken had ever referred to the Tallest by anything other than their title. They had never in their life experienced such disobedience from any of their subordinates. That thought tickled at the back of Red's mind. Zim was by far was the most annoyingly loyal and faithful member of the Irken species, and here he was refusing a direct order. An act punishable by death. There were very few Irkens in history who had been convicted of such a crime. You could count the number of them on an Irken's hand.
The stunned silence didn't let up until Zim continued.
"Five years. Five damned Earth years I've spent on this miserable rock. Five years I've spent trying to prove my allegiance and worth to you. Five years completely wasted." The last word was spat venomously at Red and Purple. "But it wasn't just five years I've wasted, was it?" Zim said, more quietly.
"What do you mean?" Red asked.
"You knew," Zim responded simply. "Even before you sent me off Conventia, you knew. You had to have known." Red and Purple's antennae perked. Suddenly, they weren't talking about Zim's exile to Earth. Red realized immediately what was being spoken of. It had never really occurred to him that Zim might find out. After all, this was Zim. Quite possibly the most moronic Irken that ever existed. Red looked back up to his former underling, unsure of what to say. Zim, frustrated that he was getting no answer from his former leaders, screamed almost painfully. "WHY DID YOU NOT HAVE ME TERMINATED? IT IS PROTOCOL! YOU OF ALL IRKENS SHOULD KNOW THIS!"
"You were supposed to be dead," Red explained. "We didn't think you'd actually find a planet to try to take over."
"And what about after Operation Impending Doom I?" Zim asked frantically. "You should have sent me for a Existence Evaluation. But you didn't. Why?"
"Honestly," Purple finally found a spot to enter the conversation, smiling. "We thought it'd be funnier if you were banished to slavery rather than waste our time at the Control Brains on Judgementia. I mean, after you started pestering us about this Earth planet, we had plans to take you to them. But we figured it was too much trouble to go out of our way just for someone like you." Red could see Zim's anger boiling over.
"Purple, this is serious," Red chided. "Can you please just shut up and eat your donuts?"
"What?" Purple accused, eyes narrowing. "It's Zim for crying out loud. Are you seriously taking him... uh, seriously?"
"Later," Red insisted, trying to get Purple to shut up. Zim apparently picked up on this. He grinned smugly at Red and Purple.
"I'm not sure what you're so worried about, Red," Zim said. "Zim would never harm his Almighty Tallest. Rest assured that your plans will not be interfered with."
"Small comfort," Red said sarcastically. "But you're the one who should be worried Zim. You've got a lot of guts to speak to us in such ways. You do realize how many crimes against the Irken Empire you've just committed, yes?" Zim just continued smiling.
"Well then, if you're so concerned about one lone Irken who resides on a planet billions of light years away from your flight path, then why don't you come and get me?" Red smirked evilly. He had him now.
"How about, instead of doing that, I just self-destruct your base?" Zim still didn't stop smiling.
"You underestimate the intelligence of ZIM!" Zim exclaimed, throwing his hands up for dramatic effect. "You think I wouldn't have cut all connections to the Massive before calling you? Go ahead and press your button. It will do NOTHING!"
Red, calling Zim's apparent bluff, looked directly at one of the crew members and nodded his head. The communications officer nodded in return, and typed in a few commands. Red and Purple waited, looking at the screen in anticipation.
Zim's smug demeanor remained unchanged.
"Pathetic," Zim said. He raised his hand in a mocking salute. "Defective Zim, signing off."
"This isn't over Zim," Red quickly hissed. "We're not done."
"Oh, I assure you. We're done here."
With that, the transmission was cut and the screen went black. Red stared at the inactive screen silently. Purple stood in a brief silence before hovering in the air. He raised his arms in cheer.
"WOO-HOO! Hey everybody!" He shouted out to the crew. "We don't have to deal with Zim anymore! Someone go get a round of snacks in here for everybody!" The crew around the Tallest gave unsure cheers to Purple's antics. Red could tell they were uneasy. He didn't blame them, as he felt the same uneasiness.
"Idiot," he spat. He turned towards the exit of the communication room and headed towards it, angry. As the food drone began handing snacks and drinks to everyone, Red walked out the door.
Let Purple act like a moron if that's what he wants. Red thought.
Zim was right about one thing, Earth was very far away from their intended course. If they really wanted Zim to be tried for treason, they either have to dramatically change course or send someone to Earth. Sending out a hit team wasn't an option right now. He still had to assess the losses from the Resisty attack. Red shook his head.
Purple might not see it now, but they might have very big problem on their hands.
Galactic conquest was supposed to be simple.