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And the Chorus Swells

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And The Chorus Swells!

Chapter One

It was just one of those mornings... Dib didn't want to get out of bed. It wasn't because he was particularly tired - he just had a sense that if he got up and went about his day, he was going to wish he'd just stayed in bed. He didn't know why, but he usually trusted these niggling feelings. Unfortunately for his gut feelings, his father sent Gaz up to fetch him down to the table - or else he would have remained under the covers throughout everything that was to follow.

Breakfast consisted of the broken fragments at the bottom of an old box of Breakfast Chunks - never Dib's favorite choice of morning meal anyway, and made worse by the lack of milk. Noticing the dark look on his sister's face, he didn't comment on the fact that she'd taken both the last of the CocoSplodies and the last of the milk. He just sat across from her in a silence so complete it was rather unnerving.

When he tried to break it with small talk, he didn't even manage to get a single word out before Gaz cut him off, her voice so quiet it was barely audible through a few clipped words. "Don't even think it." He did what any person with half a brain would have done in that situation - he filled his mouth full of cereal that was somehow both soggy and as hard as a rock at the same time. The effort of forcing it down his throat brought tears of very real pain to his eyes. So it was no surprise that when he finally headed out the door towards the Skool, he was in a bit of a foul mood.

He hadn't even gotten halfway there, when out of nowhere came a beat, beginning as a light tapping then getting louder. A bass entered, followed by a violin solo, and... and, what amazingly enough, sounded like techno.

"Ha ha ha ha!" Evil laughter followed the music, flowing out rhythmically - smoothly, almost operatic and yet somehow suited to the music perfectly; Then, coming out behind the trees around a tall wooden fence was none other than ZIM! The Invader was perched on a monstrous looking robot, looming dramatically over Dib. This mech, like the last one, had chicken legs.

"All you dirty, filthy humans!

Prepare yourselves for doom!

It is I, ZIM! Watch as I make that go boom!"

A laser flew out of the robot's fist of fury, striking a small building, and blowing it to smithereens. Yet despite this display of destruction, Zim growled and pulled at his antennae, obviously realizing what he was doing and not seeming unduly pleased by it. The giant deadly robot was no big deal, of course, that was always handy (and fun!) to have. It was something else that bothered him - the nature of the problem became clear with the first unsung words Dib heard from the alien.

"No! Gah! I can't stop singing! Where is that music coming from?" The Irken glared all around, unable to find the source. Obviously frustrated, he got back to business, bringing the robot's lasers to bear on another building. This one also went up with a cloud of smoke and an ear shattering crash, pieces of concrete and metal flying.

Below, Dib stared up at this display with a mixture of disgust and concern - then he backed-pedaled rapidly as a huge fragment of burning iron came plummeting downward. It slammed into the laser-arm of the giant robot, pinning it to the ground. The young paranormal investigator could hear the alien screaming what sounded like curses, before Zim vaulted out of the cockpit and landed on the ground, scuttling for shelter. Dib needed to see no more than that - dashing for the nearest tree and crouching behind it, hands covering his head.

The explosion wasn't as loud as he'd expected, or else his ear drums were still damaged from the building blowing up. Either way, he only stood and emerged from behind the tree when things fell silent again. Well... mostly silent. There was still the sound of drums and various other instruments that made him wonder again if perhaps he'd damaged his ears somehow. Except that they'd been there even before the explosions, so his theory was shot out of the water.

Zim was left standing there on the sidewalk, looking perhaps a little singed, and staring in disgust at the fragmented remains of his death robot; "Aw." His gaze traveled to Dib, and he immediately pulled himself up to his full height, trying to be intimidating.

Dib shook his head, wondering what the heck Zim had babbling on about - but the presence of that odd music was just startling to him as it obviously had been to his mortal enemy. And Zim singing at him had just been undeniably freaky. Definitely not an image he wanted in his head. He was about to comment, something snide, when the music changed, becoming something a little less out there - a medley of synch and darker bass notes with a repeating series of notes that started out slow and gained speed to a chorus that swelled with a sense of triumph. He found that his own voice was being dragged along for the ride, and there was no way to stem the words that were pouring fourth from his throat.

"Today's just another lousy day

Wasting my life, just to get by

And you - you think you've got this round

And they're fooled by all your lies

But no, you're not gonna win this time

No - Not gonna make a fool of me

And now you won't get another chance

To add on to all my misery

I've got you! You're going down this time

There's no way you can get away

Take you, catch you, make you pay

You're finished, just face it you're gonna be mine -

You're gonna be mine this time

Gonna be mine

This time!"

The music died down almost immediately, becoming sort of a low background noise, while Dib blinked in bewilderment. For a moment he was unable to form words, partially afraid that anything he tried to say would again come out as music. But the odd compulsion seemed to be gone, so he dared to speak, his voice rising and rather shrill with something suspiciously like panic. "What the hell was that?"

Zim had just flinched a few times as Dib seemed to be about to confront him. Then the feared invader could only stare at him, agape, as he began singing at him, rather confidently, before realizing exactly what he was doing. There was an awkward pause, a very brief silence as the alien stared at him, and then suddenly it seemed that it was Zim's turn, and the alien was falling in key -- well, sort of -- as though he had no control over himself.

"Hah! You fool, you think you can beat me?

When I'm the greatest Invader, in all history!

I may have had some trouble, but it's all been sheer luck!

You'll never stop me this time, cuz you wormbabies suck!

Dib turned his head as Zim wandered around him smugly, tapping at his shoulder, still singing, although now with the tone of one who is sharing a juicy secret.

"My ultra-doomer's gone, that was just part of the plan

Go on and gloat - you'll see what a genius I am

Zim whipped out a small remote, the music blaring loudly and dramatically as he displayed it for his mortal enemy.

"The bombs that I've planted are spread wide and far

You can't stop them all, not the way that you are

There's no helping it, not with my genius unfurled

The planet is doomed, and I'll soon rule the world!"

And Zim rose up as victoriously, as though he had already pushed the button, and earth was already his. But of course, he was getting ahead of himself, pushing the button was something he should have gone ahead and done instead of waiting around and using the robot at all. Dib didn't wait for him to stop gloating and use the thing, launching himself at the alien and trying to wrest the remote from his grip.

He didn't quite manage - although in the tussle, he did twist it out of Zim's hand. It hit the ground, bounced, flipped, then landed with a soft thud in the grass. He stared, half on top of Zim, with the alien not quite pinned beneath him. The music had died down again - nearly silent with only the soft noise of a flute wafting to them from somewhere in the distance. He reached for it - Zim reached for it. Their hands scrabbled, occasionally slapping each other aside as they vied for control of the remote.

It was a battle that proved ultimately futile. The flute trilled, some horns joined in for a little intro-like piece, then the semblance of seriousness gave way to a bubbly little ditty, odd little beeps and static noises punctuating the melody at random intervals. Dib didn't have to look to know who this must be for. He groaned.

"Taaaacoooooo!"

GIR's high pitched voice pierced his skull like a hot nail, and he desperately wished he wasn't tangled up with Zim. Not for the remote - just so he could cover his ears in anticipation of the horror that he knew was about to come. From the corner of his eye, he could see a similar realization dawning on the alien's face - the magenta eyes widening in horror. He had an inkling that their expressions must be remarkably alike at the moment, and then the little robot in a green dog suit opened his mouth and warbled, obviously much less perturbed by the presence of odd, song-inducing music.

"I wanna taco! I wanna cupcake!

Wanna have muffins that I'll make!

Wanna turkey sammich just for me

And lunch with piggy! Piggy! PIGGY!"

Dib groaned, at least Zim had been fairly close to being on-key, and his rhymes had made some sort of sense. This was just ridiculous. Worst of all, the little robot was dancing a little too, his tongue sticking out as he made his way towards the two enemies. A blue sombrero was perched lopsidedly on his head, and he was wearing long black boots for some reason that the human didn't even want to strain his mind trying to figure out.

"GIR! Stop that singing! Give me my remote! I must destroy these pathetic earth monkeys!"

"Monkeys?" Apparently that was the wrong tactic to use on GIR, as the robot only giggled and sang again, a different song entirely, but somehow he crammed it into the same tune.

"Five little monkeys jumpin on the bed

Master came 'n now they're dead

Got me some pickles in a cookie tin

Now we can bring 'em all back again!"

The robot paused, his eyes widening as his gaze fixed on the remote, and then he pounced on it with a squeal. "Scary Monkey Show!" To Dib's horror (and apparently Zim's dismay, from the cursing the alien was doing loudly and unashamedly), the SIR unit did not turn over the remote to either of them - instead clutching it to his chest and dashing down the street with a happy squeal.

"...This is not good."

He could feel the disdain at those words radiating off of Zim in waves, as the alien stared at him for a moment through narrowed magenta eyes. "Your big head is full of hot air human Dib! Sleep peacefully while you still can, because when I get my hands on that remote, you won't have a head left to sleep with!"

"But... I'm not sleeping..."

"Silence!" Zim scrambled to his feet and ran down the street, leaving Dib sprawled there for a moment, gaping. It took only a moment for him to push himself upright and follow as fast as his legs could carry him. GIR with the remote in his hands was a greater danger to the earth than Zim could ever have hoped to be!

 

Chapter 2

-Planet Vort-

Invader Larb was not having a good day.

"What do you think of the matter?" The Vort Council had gathered again to discuss important business - one of the things that the disguised Invader Larb hated the most. The Vort were so polite all the time - it took them forever to decide anything on a matter because they always had to listen to everyone's suggestions and think about them before making a choice. If it had been a normal council meeting, Larb would have called in sick. It would have meant putting up with days of sympathy and gifts and concerned questions about his well being afterwards, but he thought those things would have been well worth it. If it had been anything else - anything but this...

They were discussing whether to continue the treaty with the Irken Empire. News about the conquest of Blorch had reached them and the moral issues apparently had them worried. They weren't expecting the Irkens to move against them though - a fact that often made Larb want to laugh out loud at their boundless naïveté.

After twenty-three hours of this mindless debate, Larb wasn't in much of a mood to laugh. He was bored stiff - a state which he mostly blamed on one particular council member who was vehemently opposed to the treaty - Lard Nar. He talked more than anyone Larb had ever had the misfortune to meet before. Even the Tallest - who loved the sound of their own voices - couldn't out talk this particular Vort. The Invader entertained an amusing notion of flinging Lard Nar out the window and almost missed the question addressed to him.

He had no idea what they'd asked. "Ummm... yes!" Larb blurted hastily, figuring that general agreement would probably work. The rest of the council members stared at him in stunned silence. Only Lard Nar looked pleased, if still a bit surprised.

Larb had an uncomfortable suspicion that he'd said entirely the wrong thing. He just wished he knew what sort of wrong it was. Luckily, he wasn't going to be kept in the dark for very long.

"You think we should take preemptive military action against our Irken allies?" The Council elder asked, disbelief evident in his croaking voice. "Have you considered instead, Heb Ner's suggestion that we renew the treaty with stricter clauses, or perhaps Shuk Nub's idea to act as an impartial third party - and there is always the potential merit in -"

He was going to drone on about it for another hour or fifteen. Larb bared his teeth in pained frustration - he couldn't take this anymore! He was so incensed that he could hear buzzing reverberating throughout his skull. Well, more a hum than a buzz, really - the constant low piping of brass instruments. It never occurred to him to wonder about their presence either, not until the point where he opened his mouth and something entirely unexpected came out.

At first he didn't recognize the voice - and he couldn't help but wonder if perhaps the Vort Council members had lost their minds - brains rotted away by all that constant debate. Then he realized the voice he was hearing was his own, rising in helpless, heedless song, much to his dismay. The subject of said melody was the worst part though, and although he tried to stop singing as the Vort looked at him, he just couldn't.

"You make me sick - I can't believe

I've had to do this job so long

Listening to your endless jabber

Different voices - same old song

I thought it would be simple work

To infiltrate your foolish race

But now I've had it - fed up, bored stiff

It's time you Vortians took your place

The Irken Empire sends its greetings

To all of you - now do give in

I'm here to conquer all of you

Give up - you just cannot win"

Larb felt the Vort eyes upon him, narrowed at last with suspicion and made another attempt to stop his singing. The Vort looked genuinely upset - and (more frightening) they seemed just as genuinely riled. In all the time he'd spent with these Vortian do-gooders, he'd never seen them angry. And the song wasn't stopping, the music dragging him on into another verse. He gave up trying after a second or two more, realizing the damage had already been done.

"Soon the armada will arrive

A hundred thousand Irkens strong

To take your planet over - and then

Wish you all a smug 'so long'!"

The music fell silent. Larb fell silent. The Vort Council members said not a word - only staring at the newly exposed Irken infiltrator with a frightening blankness in their eyes. Time stopped and although afterward Larb could never have said just how long had really passed, it felt like an eternity. Semantics were nearly the last thing on his mind though, especially as the Vort Council began to move. They were almost perfectly synchronized as they advanced on him.

Invader Larb was definitely not having a good day...
-Planet Earth-

"Wheeeee! Hee hee! GIR catapulted up the street, rebounding off of telephone poles and fire hydrants with a dinging reminiscent of a pinball machine. Ping - off a car! Ping - off an old man using a walker! He was shrieking with laughter the entire time.

He didn't get too many looks, amazingly enough. It seemed that most of the people walking to their destinations that morning were having their own problems - problems that precluded the sight of a weird green dog with jet packs on its feet. Snippets of song were briefly audible from varying individuals as he zoomed past, heading for his master's house.

The familiar green building loomed ahead, getting closer and closer until it slammed into the flying robot. GIR slid unceremoniously down the door and landed on the front step, a silly grin on his face. "Hiiii House!" He bounced to his feet, staggered backwards a couple of steps - right about to the middle of the sidewalk leading to Zim's house. Then he raised his head and warbled out another tune.

"Taco! Taaaco! Taaaacoooo!" He giggled as the neighbors stared in his direction.

"Master says, do a lil' dance

Dance, dance! Dance, dance!"

The robot waggled his rear in an exaggerated 'dance move' while the normal humans crept closer to the fence in horrified fascination.

"Master says, wear the rubber pants

Pants, pants! Pants, pants!

And sing a song out loud!"

The SIR unit was prancing around the gnomes now, and their gazes followed him. Unlike their reaction to humans (or at least Dib) they made no motion to stop GIR or even impede him any, although their eyes did glow red as they attempted to process this information.

"Master says so many things

'n so many things to say

An' I don't get a single thing

He's sayin' anyway!

Burritooooo!"

As the neighbors reached the fence, Gir began his dancing once again.
Dib was about ready to fall over. He'd managed to keep pace with Zim throughout the whole wild robot chase and his body was now letting him know in no uncertain terms that he was going to regret the activity later. If GIR had gone straight to Zim's base it would have been different - he wouldn't have been feeling that sharp, jabbing pain in his side every time he drew a breath, for one thing. He gasped, feeling his sweat-damp shirt sticking unpleasantly to his back.

The alien still wasn't letting up in his relentless pursuit of his wayward servant, and that meant that Dib had no choice but to keep going as well. By now they'd been led all over town, but they were at last back in familiar territory. He could see the rise of Zim's house ahead - apparently GIR had headed back to the base after all. Flushed from the exertion and spurred on by the terrifying thought that Zim might actually get his hands on that detonator remote, Dib forced his tired legs into a sprint.

It turned out that he needn't have bothered trying to keep so close behind Zim. The alien stopped dead in his tracks right outside the gate to his yard and Dib, moving too quickly to even think about stopping, slammed into him at full speed. Both of them went sprawling, with Dib landing half-perched across the Invader's back.

Neither of them noticed. They were too busy gaping at the spectacle that was playing out in front of their eyes. GIR was singing the Doom Song - hardly a surprise, except that it was being sung to the tune of the Can Can. Even that would not have been enough to draw such a severe reaction had it been all that was occurring. It wasn't.

Not only was GIR singing, he was dancing as well, with plenty of high kicks as was proper for the tune in question. And somehow he wasn't the only one - all of Zim's lawn gnomes were dancing as well - although they had no feet to kick with, their front ends were lifting in an approximation of the kicking. They had their elbows linked - GIR and the gnomes. The neighbors too, Dib noted with astonishment as he watched the legless man dangling serenely from the crooked elbows of two others.

It was Zim who finally gathered up enough of his scattered wits to speak first. "What is the meaning of this?" His voice was shrill, incredulous and it pierced through Dib's skull like a hot nail. Dib had to agree with the sentiment, however. The fact that he was knocked flat onto his back as the riled Invader leaped to his feet was annoying though. He glared up at his mortal enemy, but Zim was far too preoccupied to notice. "Get off of my lawn you filthy stink monkeys! And you gnomes! Stop that dancing! GIR! GIR!" The alien grabbed hold of his robot assistant by the arms as the humans scattered at last.

"Doom! Doom doom doom doom doom! Doom da doom doom doom! Doom!"

"Stop singing, GIR!" Where is the remote? Give to ZIM?" Dib took a step forward at this, prepared to intervene - maybe even tackle Zim again if necessary. But GIR only stared at his master blankly.

"Remote? Wassat?"

Dib could hear Zim's teeth grinding from where he was crouched, but the alien, surprisingly enough, managed to maintain some control. "The remote, GIR. The detonator for all of the bombs we planted all over the city to destroy the humans. The remote that makes them all explode -"

"Like a chicken!" GIR piped in suddenly. Zim just stared. Dib barely stifled a snicker against his sleeve at his adversary's dumbfounded expression.

"Not like a chicken, GIR! You took the remote and ran off with it, remember?"

"Oooh, yeeeeah!" GIR beamed.

"Give it back to ZIM!"

"Okey Dokey!" The little robot grinned cheerfully, and then looked down at his empty "paws". He blinked. Then he patted himself all over. "Nope! Don't have it."

Zim's jaw dropped. "How can this be? You had it! Where did you put it down?"

The SIR unit tilted his green doggy head. "Hmmm... Don't know." Then as the Irken stood there gaping, he bounced towards the house. "I'm gonna make me some waffles!" The door slammed shut.

There was a moment of silence, and then Zim turned to face the human who had finally managed to get to his feet. The two of them glared at each other for a long, heated moment. Then Dib grinned. "Nice try, Space Boy."

"SILENCE!"

Dib only shook his head, still grinning, and headed away from the alien's house. He'd have to build a tracking device and find that remote - or at least disarm the bombs - but for now he still had class to attend. "See you at school, Zim."

The alien stood on his front step and seethed, fists clenched. "Just you wait, Dib! This isn't over yet!"