The prison wasn't a very unusual sight on an Irken conquered world. It was used to house prisoners, but also the citizens left on the planet that were free – if they could still be called that. Half the population of the prison woke at dawn every morning, piled into various shuttles or transport chambers and were sent across the planet to various sugar fields where they would toil all day under the hot sun with little breaks or water. They were called the Workers and they would continue to work until their bodies gave out or they were transferred to a different class, which typically was to the Experiment class.
The other half, the Experiments, was made of elderly, young or defective natives; those who could no longer work the sugar fields or were too weak for manual labor to begin with. They were test subjects used as targets and guinea pigs for dangerous Irken military experiments and weapons.
A small handful of those, the ones who were more pleasing to look at, smelled less and had gentler, more subservient mannerisms were assigned as slaves in various facilities, where they would clean, cook and do general busywork the Irkens themselves were above. These were the Servants.
Finally, there was a tiny handful of what were called Outsiders. These were natives that somehow not only survived the initial sweeper cannon, but the military forces that cleansed the planet on conquest and, until capture, had never worked under the iron boots of the Irkens. These were crafty creatures that had lived in the wilds of their planet for almost as long as the Irkens had owned it. They were incredibly difficult to catch and the few that had been caught resided on the far side of the prison in maximum-security cells where they sat in complete darkness until they were fit for work or completely insane. The Irkens would use all kinds of methods to get these prisoners to submit, beatings and starvation were among the most common but there were several even crueler guards who used more questionable methods. The only way for a prisoner left in these horrific conditions to be freed was to either rat out the remaining Outsiders they knew of, where they would be rewarded with the cushy Server status, or pledge themselves to the Armada, where they would become a Worker. If insanity were to come before the prisoner ratted the others out or pledged itself to the Armada, then it was simply disposed of.
No use keeping a broken toy.
With one, single exception.
There was one prisoner incarcerated within the facility that was considered both dangerous and insane – yet he was still alive.
It was because the Armada was desperate for him to rat out his colleges, not that they would ever claim desperation, but his multiple raids on Sugar Mines, sometimes freeing humans or killing Irkens, made him a dangerous priority. He was supposedly the ringleader but none of the other natives knew him, so the Irkens assumed he was a figurehead who knew where the real threat was hiding. That was the only reason the abomination still lived.
They needed to quash this rebellion before it got any bigger; it was starting to give some of the inmates hope.
And that's why the events that transpired that evening were so important.
It was a little past three am when it happened.
Inside a maximum security cell sat a small figure, unmistakably an Outsider, wrapped in a white coat, similar to a straight jacket. It wasn't the first time the prisoner had worn such a thing, even if it was a more advanced version, and he couldn't help but feel it wouldn't be the last. He felt a small amount of humor as he began wiggling his arms about the coat and couldn't help but chuckle to himself. There was a small sense of irony in the fact that it would be how used to being bound that would aid in his escape from aliens of all things. Even he might not have believed himself a few years back.
With a small jerk of the wrist and another arch of his back the prisoner suddenly found the jacket limp on his body, loose enough to remove. He smiled quietly to himself and enjoyed the sensation of the looser clothes for a second before moving on to faze two.
He took a deep breath of air, expanding his lungs a far as possible, and screamed. It was a hideous, inhumane noise, like that of a dying animal and he knew they'd come at the sound of it. He was important after all.
After only three days of imprisonment his stupid captors had yet to figure out he would never tell them what he knew, so until that fact became apparent they couldn't risk him dying. They had a rebellion to quash after all.
The prisoner began to count the seconds as they passed after his scream, if he was right about how the guards were spaced, the first one should be a ten second sprint from him, with another guard a mere thirty seconds behind. That mean he had half a minute tops.
He took a deep breath to steady himself, just as a guard burst in, screaming in Irken.
"What the hell is going on in here!?" The guard, who couldn't see the state of the straight jacket in the pitch black, stormed into the room, forgetting to close the door behind him. Or maybe, he incorrectly assumed that just because he saw the jacket draped across the prisoner's body, that he was helpless.
It became very apparent that he indeed thought there was no danger when his footsteps stopped directly behind the inmate.
Too bad for him.
A vicious smile ripped up the side of the prisoner's face as he leapt up from his sitting position. In the split second it took for him to stand and pivot to face the guard, he had already ripped off his straight jacket and flung it over the guard, blinding him. He swiftly delivered a roundhouse kick to the back, hitting him in the tender spot directly below the PAK and flinging the hapless guard deeper into the cell, face first.
It wasn't worth the time it would take to kill the guard; he'd already lost a good ten seconds.
Before his victim could recover, the prisoner dashed out of his cell, taking only a second to lock the door.
"Four, two, three, seven, five!" He sung in a triumphant, insane way as he punched in the code to seal the door. The door chirped the harmony back as each number was pushed. Maybe next time, these scum will invest in silent locks, He thought smugly to himself as the door swung closed just as the guard, who had regained his bearings, charged at the door.
Oh how he screamed.
"Now," The prisoner muttered to himself, ignoring the banshee wails of the imprisoned guard, "If I can get out of sight within the remaining fifteen seconds, the second guard should waste another thirty seconds to a minute freeing Skippy here." He nodded quickly, scanning the terrain as he tried to work through the next portion of his plan. His eyes roamed across the deserted halls, trying to ignore the sounds of frantic footfall when –there!
He sprinted across the hall to where a Servant's janitorial equipment lay, most importantly, where a large garbage bin was. Then he rolled it as close as he dared to his cell. He squeezed himself in between the garbage bin and the wall rather than jumping into it, he wasn't stupid, and waited. His heart hammered in his throat and he took several long breaths through the nose, attempting to calm himself when he heard more shouting from his cell. The other guard had arrived.
The other guard, seemingly a female Irken if her curled antenna was any indicator, yelled furiously at the cell, "Stand back!" Obviously, she still seemed to think the prisoner was in there and with no evidence to the contrary, she prepared her electric spear so she could stab whatever was shouting bloody murder. Thank god the first guard was an idiot, he was screaming curses instead of conveying the situation to his hapless comrade. They would both probably be punished later.
A soft little tune cut through the shouts, 'four, two, three, seven, five'! signifying the code had been punched into the door lock. As soon as the door began to slide open the prisoner took the opportunity to scream as loud as he could, startling the guard standing in front of the opening door so bad she dropped her spear. Before she could recover or the other guard could run out, he slammed the garbage bin into the second guard, successfully slamming her into the first guard.
They both went flying into the cell with a myriad of curses.
A quick sweeping motion allowed the prisoner to grab the electro-spear the female had dropped, now he was armed, and then he punched in the door sealing code, hollering, "Four, two, three, seven, five!" in badly accent Irken so they knew that he knew. Maybe the taunt wouldn't be helping anyone else escape when they replaced the locks with silent ones, but he couldn't help goading them, enjoying their curses and screams. Besides, its not like silent locks would affect him.
He had no intention of being captured ever again.
Zim was having a pretty bad day.
His mood already started off sour because he hated wearing the Armada's uniforms, even if pink was his color and even the fact that they were only a holographic illusion could not placate him.
But that was not why his day was majorly sucking, no it was terrible because, from the second they entered the Earth's atmosphere, this mission was doomed to have everything go wrong.
First off, after scanning the planet and finding the base of operations, the Diver was on it's merry way to a place where it could land when Spleenk jerked the steering and flew heavily off course. In the Dleekan's defense an unscheduled patrol had flown so close that, had he not swerved off course their mission would have ended before they got there. Zim was actually a little bit pleased with Spleenk for his evasive actions. He was not, however, pleased when the resulting evasion left to a near crash land almost a mile off their mark.
After securing the ship that an an extra mile of hiking through a scorching desert, because that's where the base just had to be, and a rather intense questioning upon reaching the base. Luckily, Zim was used to these types of questions and used his knowledge and height to dissuade the guards from asking too many questions about himself and his holographically disguised peers but that lead to getting information about the second big problem.
Apparently, they had arrived right on the base during a prison break.
A high class Outsider, whatever that was, Zim chose not to ask, had broken free from maximum security only 30 degrees before their arrival. This meant the teams plan about waltzing in and keeping their heads low was now moot and possibly dangerous. Everybody would need to show IDs and credentials to get in and out and there would be a lock down on the base. Yet again, Zim had managed to weasel out of protocol by cutting off the poor guard before they could ask for ID with a, "You sniveling INCOMPETENT morons! I come out here all the way from the Massive to check our standing and you have let a prisoner escape?! What would the Tallest think of this!? The Galaxy's finest bested by a revolting little native!?"
This made the guards balk and shrink back enough for Zim to roughly push them out of the way, sending one poor soul spiraling into the wall and the other he knocked over completely. After a second's hesitation and confusion, Spleenk and Shloonktapooxis hustled in after him, doing their best not to send sympathetic looks the guard's way.
Entering the prison led to by far the worst hurdle, which of course meant it was the bane of Zim's already not great day.
The Commander was far too familiar with the panic prison breaks caused because he'd caused his fair share of them.
And this particular prison break was ever worse.
Every Irken was running about, panicked and ill prepared. The Armada considered its people so superior and perfect that these types of things rarely happened. They were too arrogant to prepare for them, so when they did occur it was mayhem. Normally, mayhem would be the perfect cover for infiltration, except for the fact that everyone was in desperate need of guidance.
Guidance only a true Irken leader could provide.
And Zim was masquerading as a Taller.
Instead of being invisible, every Irken wanted to say something to Zim – mainly to cover their asses and tell him how well things were going, don't worry and look how competent I am! But occasionally they had stupid and difficult questions that Zim had to either ridicule or laugh off in order to progress because with out access to a terminal to syphon some information, he knew even less than they did.
So far, only lower class soldiers and guards spoke to them so none of them really questioned Zim on who he was or his credentials, his height being validation enough. But their proximity made him increasingly nervous.
There was bound to be another Taller or Elite that would be vying to take control of the situation and would inevitably challenge him. For some stupid reasons Irkens always challenged and blamed each other when a problem arose. By some dumb luck, he just hadn't bumped into someone who had the credentials or gall to challenge him.
Bluffing could only do so much, so Zim quickly pulled Shloonktapooxis and Spleenk aside, gave them each wireless transmitters so they could hack the terminals and send whatever they salvaged to the ship, and told them to blend into the crowd.
Those two might not have the moxy to size up another Irken but with this type of chaos they wouldn't have to – their Shorter status would allow them to blend in and see the mission through, Zim was actually a disadvantage now. If they were caught by another Taller all of them would go down and they would gain nothing.
Zim had to be the diversion.
Worse, he had to make sure everyone stayed panicked, because the second these idiots calmed down would be the second they wanted his Lieutenants' identification.
That was probably the worst part of it all.
He had to order separation for the good of the mission and had no idea if he'd see his obnoxious comrades again.
He would just have to trust them and hope for the best.
And that's why Zim found himself locked in an abandoned medical lab a few degrees later. With an inmate on the loose no doctors or personnel would be bothering themselves with tending the bacteria or supplies in the lab. Better yet, it had a solid door so no one would be able to peak inside and see what he was doing and it housed a computer terminal.
A wire snaked out of Zim's PAK and connected to the terminal. Upon opening it, he quickly found himself swamped by inmate and patient records, about half a million natives were housed here, which suggested either enilation of the species of other bases. He also found a ridiculous amount of information on, well, just about everything – apparently the creatures who lived here had created their own planetary version of the Galactic Extranet.
The amount of information was overwhelming. Zim hadn't linked his PAK to a foreign computer since updating himself to be even more amazingandhe hadn't quiet mastered his new computing capacity. Before he could control it, his PAK automatically began to download most of the wayward information. And there was a lot of it. When he managed to shut down the download he'd noticed that he not only accidentally stored some of it on himself, but he'd sent a few of the larger files to the R.E.S.I.S.T.Y's ship too.
No harm no foul really, he didn't really need those files on the native's biology but it was better to have what he didn't need than need what he didn't have. Besides, he didn't exactly have the time to sort through and clear out the files he'd stolen and they wouldn't hinder him as far as he could tell. Better to press on and sort it out on the ship later.
The biology file reminded Zim that he did still need to know if this planet's native species was one they could attempt to recruit for the resistance. Zim spent a few more seconds pulling up and downloading some extra files on the creatures', know as humans, culture and such until it became apparent they would be worse than useless. Understanding the sentient life on this planet might have been helpful if these hyuumans were an even remotely recruitable species, but Zim was now certain they were not. There were several interesting things about these things scientifically speaking; especially their height and languages, but the hyuumans were essentially just monkeys.
No way one could ever be of use to the R.E.S.I.S.T.Y or their Captain.
With a sigh, Zim decided it was time to stop fooling around and get down to business. He needed to focus on cracking a few of the security encryptions so he could do things like disable cameras, set off alarms and otherwise cause mayhem. So long as the Irkens were scuttling about in a panic trying to fix the base, it would be easy to infiltrate. Ironically, the species did not fair well with unscheduled chaos and needed heavy guidance in such situations. Zim hadn't seen any Tallers (besides himself) and he hoped it would be a while before someone competent was able to get everything under control. That way, it would be a simple matter to keep mass panic going amongst the drones.
It was all a simple matter of distraction while Spleenk and Shloonktapooxis were locating the computer mainframe. They would need to find the mainframe because, of course, the drones wouldn't have access to the real information, the juicy stuff.
No, they were just mindless soldiers.
Zim scoffed to himself, he couldn't believe he'd been part of such an imbecilic people. Worse, there was a time he'd actually bought in to that drivel the Tallest fed them.
Feeble-minded plebeian filth.
Zim let his hands roam casually, almost sensually across the controls; idly overcoming firewalls and codes as if they were nothing. He allowed himself to become lost in his thoughts as he worked, a quiet, distant smile upon his lips. He loved fucking up the Armada in any way possible – it just made his day to know that he would be an inconvenience, however small, to the mighty Irken machine.
There was something insanely relaxing about decimating the base's security system. After weeks in space wondering if he even could stop the Armada, wondering if it was too big a task for their newborn resistance… well, overpowering a secret base off the fringes of Gamma space just seemed like a poetic form of justice. Irk he needed this, this affirmation that he hadn't spent 5 years doing nothing and that he was, in fact, a thorn in his ex-Tallests' sides!
Zim was so wrapped up in his self-satisfactory hacking that he didn't even notice one of the lab doors slide open. It wasn't the main entrance, but one of the extra doors that led to small testing rooms.
Currently, there wasn't anyone there.
The door had reacted to the movement of a ceiling vent, whose protective cover had mysteriously fallen to the floor near the entrance's motion detectors. Maybe if Zim had ever fallen in the category of someone whom was observant or even vaguely aware of his surroundings, he would have noticed this. If he didn't, then surely he would have noticed as a gangly blob of pinkish, peachy flesh and fluffy black hair wearing a pink prison suit fell out of the ceiling vent and onto a heap on the floor. He definitely would have noticed the very loud, bang as the figure, slightly disoriented, sprung to its gangly feet and accidentally knocked over a set of test tubes.
Really, this intruder was probably the least stealthy creature on the base.
He'd even cursed rather loudly when he hit his elbow on a medical table, sending shocks of sensation that were anything but funny up his arm.
But Zim was Zim.
And thus, he didn't notice.
Besides being an extremely obsessive person, the Irken had an extraordinary talent in short sidedness and tunnel vision.
Honestly, the Irken was having so much fun causing mayhem amongst his kind that nothing short of a punch to the skull would have gotten him to notice the intruder that was currently eyeing him.
At first, the creature had thought Zim was a normal observant person, cursed himself for being loud and quickly crouched, hiding himself. A heavy silence fell where the intruder counted forty of his own heart beats and, perplexed, stole a quick peek at the Irken who was standing in front of the computer terminals. His hands were moving with a lighting precision and his large red eyes were only for the screen. Obviously, the alien had heard nothing.
After it became apparent that Zim possessed the observational skills of a rock, the intruder slowly stood up and, after watching for a moment, took a hesitant step into the med bay.
The intruder was none other than the escaped prisoner that'd caused such uproar. He was still wearing his prison jumpsuit, a horrible pink stripy thing, and held the shock spear he'd stolen close to his body. How exactly he'd managed to get into the air ducts and still somehow bring along the weapon was a mystery unto itself.
Carefully, so as not to make a sound, the escapee quickly circled around Zim, who only appeared to be a Taller in the prisoner's eyes – and therefore an enemy. Zim, who was already oblivious by nature, had managed to hack into the security system and was too busy ruining the base to notice the creature creeping up on him. He'd gotten busy redirecting the workers away from the main computer room and already set all the cameras on a loop, froze the PA and alarm systems so they would squeal like a Blortian hog-monkey if anyone touched them and was currently reprogramming some janitorial drones to 'clean' the computer monitor systems with copious amounts of fluid and other non-computer friendly substances. There were also several robotic slavers he'd sent on a rampage through the cafeteria. The imminent peril to snacks would definitely be drawing a lot of attention.
While Zim was unleashing snack slaying carnage the prisoner had managed to get behind Zim. With a flick of his thumb he powered up the shock spear. Zim's antenna perked up at the noise, finally taking notice, but before he even had the chance to glance behind him the intruder struck driving the tip of the spear inside one of the open ports on Zim's PAK. It only took a split second for the spear to deliver it's deadly blow. At the push of a button about a thousand watts of electricity overwhelmed the Commander's circuitry; his body to shook violently like a marionette controlled by a mad puppeteer. When the electricity stopped his body went ramrod straight, his claret eye grew wide and he drunkenly teetered in place for a few seconds. Then his eyes went black like a computer screen abruptly shutting off and he collapsed upon the computer terminal.
"Pathetic." The prisoner scoffed, looking at the defenseless Irken. "So you're the best this place has got, huh?"
He walked over and pushed Zim's inert body off the computer terminal unsympathetically to get a better look at what he was checking out, thinking there must be important files or lockdown codes – something he might be able to override. He was surprised instead to find that this particular Irken had already done most of his work for him, if the bugged security system was any indicator. It was also rather strange that everything that had been accessed was running a subroutine. In other words, it had been hacked.
But shouldn't a Taller have access to the whole base?
Why did he have to hack basic security files?
The prisoner eyed Zim, slightly annoyed at how useless he was turning out to be and only vaguely curious as to why he was seemingly messing up the base. A traitor maybe? It didn't matter; he needed to find a way out of here before the others found him.
He roughly yanked the information syphon cables attached to the computer out roughly, uncaring if he damaged the unconscious Irken's PAK and flipped his shock spear in his hands, intending to dispose of the useless thing and hack the systems himself. Luckily for Zim, thanks to the tension on the cables created from being thrown, they retracted much faster than they normally would have and knocked his holo-watch askew, and consequentially turned it off, in the process.
The prisoner, who'd been preparing to skewer Zim through his skull, stopped.
The holo-watch had been emitting a false Armada uniform in order for Zim to blend in but now it no longer holographically disguised him and his Resisty uniform was visible. And it was a navy jumpsuit.
Maybe that wouldn't have stopped another human, but this particular human had done more than fight Irkens for the past several years.
He'd been studying them.
And he knew that Irkens never ever wore blue. It was the color of their biggest enemies the Vortians – at least it was until the Armada had conquered them. Considering that their typical pink, purple and magenta uniforms weren't just signs of alliance to the Empire but to their planet, their customs and most importantly to conquest, the situation was even stranger. Not wearing pink was like wearing a white flag – and Irkens didn't surrender.
By wearing blue this Irken had essentially surrendered to the Vortians.
A conquered species.
Suddenly, the human wasn't very sure if this Irken was even affiliated with this base at all. But – Irkens didn't leave the Empire. Did they?
Who exactly was this?
The escapee knew it was in his best interest to simply dispose of this Irken and get out of here, but he's always had an insatiable curiosity and, despite hating them, loved learning new things about the aliens. Besides, he couldn't help but feel this Irken knew something. He might not have had much to base that on, but his gut never seemed to steer him wrong so he decided to prepare.
He searched the lab and found some restraints typically used to keep patients still for medical procedures, but it would do a great job keeping a feisty Irken immobile. The escapee squatted down and quickly tied up his new prisoner, covering his mouth for good measure. Then he began to rummage around the lab until he found a small contingency plan.
Some of the humans on base needed a little convincing to subject themselves to the invasive medical procedures the staff gave them and were forced to wear shock collars. After rummaging around for a bit, the prisoner found one of these collars and went back to Zim. He quickly opened the alien's PAK with an override sequence and began rummaging around inside. It was an invasive procedure and the human quickly rearranged several live wires within the device to accommodate the collar, which, until expanded, was only about the size of a golf ball.
Maybe deciding to stay and interrogate this Irken was a dumb idea, but at least he wasn't being stupid about it. If the Irken so much as tried something, he could fry him from the inside out. Better yet, a few modifications and the collar was set to a timer of about five hours. If the prisoner wasn't around to disable it, then Zim would die at the end of that time.
That way he could question this alien scum to his heart's content, kill him if need be and get the hell out of this shitty prison. Nothing too hard!
It'd be fine!