Part II –

Basic Training

Mastering the hover-lifts took some doing, but within a half-hour, Mol had led them to the throne room, which was under construction at the moment. A crew of technicians was installing a second throne, trying to hide their confusion as to why. They looked up when Mol entered with Red and Purple, and nodded slightly, now understanding – sort of. They wiggled their antennae in salute, and then continued their work.

Purple leaned closer to Red. "Do you get the feeling everyone's staring at us?" he asked.

Red shrugged. "It's natural, isn't it?" he said, "I mean, we are the new rulers of the planet. The common Irkens should be curious."

Mol cleared his throat. "If I could have your attention – I've got a lot to teach you and only a few hours to do it," he said, pacing in front of them. He stopped and glared at them, "So there'll be no goofing-off, is that clear?"

Despite his short stature, Mol had an air of authority about him, and Red and Purple, being used to receiving orders from superiors, snapped to attention. "Sir, yes, sir!" they chorused.

The technicians glanced at each other in amazement. They knew Blu had hired Mol to train the newbies – but none of them had realized he would be good at it. They slowed their progress, wanting to watch as much as they could.

Back in the center of the room, Mol resumed his pacing. "The first thing you have to understand," he said, "Is that you never salute anyone anymore. The whole respecting authority thing has to be thrown right out the window – as of sunup tomorrow, YOU are authority. There is no one who ranks above you, no matter how intimidating they may seem."

Red and Purple exchanged glances. Red grinned.

"So…" he said, "You mean we don't have to listen to you, even?" he asked.

"As of sunup tomorrow," Mol said, "Yes. Until then – you are still soldiers. Nothing more than a tool of the Irken Military."

"But –" Purple began.

Mol raised a hand. "Let me finish. Your rank hasn't changed yet – but your behavior should. I'll have no more salutes from you. You have to learn how to present yourself as royalty, seeing as that's what you are to be."

"Um…" Purple said, "How does royalty act…?"

"I was getting to that," Mol said. He held his clipboard out in front of him. "Rule number one – and this shouldn't be a problem for you two – You should always recognize the fact that you're better than every other Irken in the galaxy."

Red smirked, "No problem there."

Purple frowned, "But Blu never acted like he was above anyone else, and the people loved him anyway," he protested.

Mol's expression softened. "Tallest Blu was…an exception…" he said, "He chose to rule by love rather than by fear…and it happened to work. But that doesn't mean that will work for you two. You don't really seem the compassionate sort."

Purple looked hurt. Red looked indignant.

"Are you saying the people won't love us?" he demanded.

Mol shrugged. "It all depends. If you make a good impression tonight at the Burial Ceremony, the people may respect you almost as much as they did Blu." He paused, "Which is why these lessons are so important. Now back to business. Rule number two – never say anything that you haven't run through in your head at least once. We don't want you saying anything stupid on an impulse."

"That makes sense…I think…" Purple said.

Mol nodded, "Good. And make sure what you say makes sense. The masses are confused enough already." He grinned.

Red narrowed his eyes. He wasn't sure he liked this guy. He seemed to be…lacking in respect. That would have to change once they were anointed.

Mol continued. "Rule number three – greeting the public. You have to acknowledge them, but subtly. Too much waving makes your arms sore real fast."

"Especially with these arm bands on," Purple added, flexing his right arm, trying to estimate the weight.

"What the point of them, anyway?" Red asked, holding his arms up, looking at the bands.

"Decoration," Mol said, "The robes go back for too long for anyone to remember why they look the way they do."

Red and Purple nodded.

Mol cleared his throat. "Moving right along. Rule number four – As Tallest, you have to know each treaty we have with other races – as some are crucial to keeping the people safe."

"How are we supposed to know all of that junk?" Red asked.

* * *

"You had to ask, didn't you?" Purple muttered. He and Red were seated in the Palace Library, at a table riddled with books and legal documents as well as a stack of vid disks, detailing the complete and "unbiased" History of Irk.

Mol snapped a finger at them. "Hey – cut the chatting," he said, "You'll spend an hour a day reading these until you know it all. And their stacked in order of importance, so start at the top of the pile."

Red and Purple looked at each other, smiled, and pushed the books off of the table. Mol watched, wide-eyed as the popped the first vid disk into the slot in the table, pulled out popcorn & soda, dimmed the lights, and sat back to enjoy an hour of the History of Irk.

* * *

Meanwhile, the rest of the planet was still preparing for the Burial Ceremony. The capitol city was buzzing with solemn activity. The workers were putting the final touches on the Sacred Temple. The civilians who walked passed could only stare at the outer surface in wonderment, and puzzle over how it would look when it was opened that night.

But the big question that lingered in every Irkens mind was: who would take the place of their beloved Tallest Blu? They each privately wracked their brains, but could think of no one. Not one tall Irken stood out in their minds as particularly right for the part. Blu had just been so…irreplaceable.

And so the Irkens came to a planet-wide conclusion. They would just have to wait and see. And boy, were they in for a surprise.

* * *

Back at the Palace, Mol had cut the movie at exactly an hour, and marched (or floated…?) the rookies back to the throne room, to complete their lessons.

The second throne had been completed and the technicians had reluctantly left the room.

"I claim the new one!" Red cried, floating over to the new throne and seating himself in it (very carefully, as he and Purple were both still a bit unsteady on the hover-lifts).

"No fair," Purple whined. Then he smiled. "Fine," he said, "I get Tallest Blu's throne." He smirked as he watched Red's face contort as he realized he been duped.

Mol grinned. "Well now, that tells me a lot about your characters already," he said.

"How?" Red and Purple asked together.

"Simple," Mol said, "Red – you chose the new throne. You like being the best at things. You probably don't handle defeat well. You also probably value the surface of something over it's inner worth."

Red growled. It wasn't true – not entirely.

"Oh wait," Mol said, noting his anger, "You most likely have a lot of emotions bottled up inside – but your over-inflated ego keeps them from showing."

Purple laughed. "He's got you pegged pretty good, Red."

"Purple –" Mol said, making Purple cut his laughter short, "You're more the brains of the operation, but your naivety makes you seem clueless at times. You can always see both sides of an argument, so decision making is probably hard for you. Also, you're more of a follower than a leader."

Purple just stared at him, jaw hanging open. Red snickered, "He's got you pegged, too, Purple."

"But enough of this," Mol said, waving a hand dismissively, "We've got two more hours before the Ceremony. It's time to crank this boot-camp into overtime."

* * *

The next couple lessons went smoothly enough. Mol briefed them on handling the press and dealing with other planets that were angry at them.

"Not bad, boys," he said, pressing a button on his clipboard, making the list scroll to the next page. "Rule number seven – renegotiating treaties. This is always complicated."

"How could it be?" Red asked, "It's just reaching an agreement with someone else…right?"

"Seems simple, doesn't it?" Mol said, "And sometimes it is. Treaties can range to matters as simple as trade routes and as complicated as keeping peace with a rival conquering race. Our main rivals are the Zhengians."

Red and Purple exchanged glances again. They had been taught about the Zhengians when they were young. They knew, as every Irken knew, how important it was to keep peace with their most formidable enemies (ironic foreshadowing…lol).

"So you're not as thick as I thought," Mol said, noting their serious expressions, "Than this one should be self explanatory. Your reading those books in the Library should prove useful when it comes to maintaining peace with other planets. But we can go over those tomorrow." He checked his clipboard again. "Rule number eight – organizing invasions. This should be review, seeing as you've both served in the military for a while, right?"

"Yep," Red said proudly, "And we were Invaders before that."

"As is customary," Mol said, "So you know standard Invader protocol and the like. And you've both had military experience?"

Purple nodded, "Two wars, though I can't say either of them was a pleasant experience."

Mol eyed him, "You really weren't cut out for the military, were you?"

"No sir," Purple said, "It turns out, I was meant to be a Scholar, but since Red and I were born at exactly the same time…the cold, unfeeling robot arm got confused and…well…it's a long story…"

"Which we really don't have time for right now," Mol said, "But I'd definitely like to hear about it sometime, though."

And so lessons continued for the rest of the two hours and it wasn't long before a long low horn was sounded all across the planet. Irkens everywhere perked up their antennae and proceeded to the predetermined location of their viewing of the Burial Ceremony.

In the Palace, Mol stood between Red and Purple again and told them, "It's…Showtime!" Then he hurried them out of the room to join the procession. One of Irk's most memorable nights was about to begin.