Allura leaned forward in her seat, hunching over the writing desk, a sheaf of papers sprawled out before her. Her neat handwriting was scrawled out on the white parchment, written in bold blue cursive, the ink still wet in places. She was careful to keep from touching the writing, not wanting to risk the ink smearing, the princess staring down at her words.
It was her fifth and what she hoped final attempt at a letter, Allura chewing on her lip nervously as she read back her words. It was addressed to Coran, her sentences stiff and formal as she spoke to him on matters of the planet. It had been far more difficult than she thought to write to him, Allura thinking long and carefully on the concerns she wished to address.
The first and most important matter had been involving just who would sit on the throne of planet Arus, Allura thinking through the list of candidates, and ultimately naming her chosen successor. By all rights the next in line for the throne should have been the child she had yet to conceive, but Allura knew if Lotor’s plan worked, her first born would never ascend to the throne.
Instead she thought about her extended family, her many uncles and cousins spread across the planet, ruling over small kingdoms. Allura knew she could not simply leave without settling the matter of succession. Not if she did not want to plunge her already chaotic planet into the midst of a civil war. Arus wouldn’t be able to survive that, not with Doom lurking in the sky, ready to rain down destruction on the land. An internal struggle for the crown would prove disastrous, the final thing needed for Zarkon to capture Arus.
She would not make it easy for Doom to win, Allura having reviewed the candidates and the way they ruled over their allocated lands until she settled on a name. Her Aunt, Orla, would make a fine Queen for Arus, having a wise mind, and firm hand when it came to ruling. A half smile played on her lips, Allura thinking on how Orla would not be content to be a mere figurehead that waved to the people but had no real say on what happened around her.
“Ah child, what are you smiling about?” Nanny’s voice interrupted Allura’s thoughts, the princess gasping and leaning over to hide the papers from her.
“It’s nothing.” Allura said, turning to look up at the woman with the chestnut brown hair. “Just thinking happy thoughts.”
“I see.” Nanny said, and walked over to the bed, reaching for the top most comforter to turn it down. “Well, carry those happy thoughts to bed with you. Allura, you still need your rest, doctor’s orders.”
She stifled a sigh, blowing gently to dry the ink. It had been two days since she had been released from the hospital. Two, long and boring days where she had been confined to her bed for the duration of it. Keith had been by to visit her several times, bringing with him flowers and a plea for her to see reason. He attempted to press her into talking, trying to determine Lotor’s whereabouts, but Allura remained tightlipped, allowing the captain to believe the prince had fled the castle.
She knew the truth would have had Keith seeing red, the man liable to do anything as he went to drag Lotor back down to the dungeons. For now he had completely dropped the issue of marriage, more focused on finding Lotor than anything else. Allura was almost relieved, knowing she couldn’t put off marrying him for much longer. Not if she didn’t want to arouse everyone’s suspicions on why she was suddenly turning down her fiancee.
The ink had dried enough for her to fold the paper, Allura making three creases before stuffing it into an envelope. She sealed the envelope with the royal seal of her family, the wax carved with the shield of lions on it. No one else had a seal quite like this one, so there would be no doubt as to the validity of her letter.
“No more dilly dallying.” Nanny called, the woman having finished fluffing up the pillows. “Back to bed with you before you have a relapse.”
“Honestly Nanny…” Allura began, hiding the envelope beneath one of her text books, away from the woman’s prying eyes. “You act as though I am about to collapse at any moment. I am not. It does me a world of good to be up and about.”
“If the doctor prescribed bed rest for you, it’s clearly not okay for you to spend much time out of bed.” Nanny clucked her tongue as Allura drew near, peering at her face. “Just look at you. With those dark circles under your eyes. One would think you weren’t getting enough sleep.”
Nanny was closer to the truth than Allura liked, the princess having spent the long night hours with Lotor. Mainly they talked about their plans, Lotor browsing websites on her computer as he secured his funds and bought them a new lifestyle. His days had been spent doing careful research on just where they would move to, a small list of planets printed out for consideration.
She was amazed at how computer savvy Lotor was, the prince taking care to wipe the history of what they had been doing from her computer’s hard drive. He wanted no one to be able to hack in and recover the data, use it to track them down. Allura herself had written a note in her letter, begging Coran to not try to find her. She knew she was wasting ink on that request, but the effort had to have been made.
“I’ve just had one too many visitors.” Allura said, realizing Nanny had waited for a response.
“I’ll be sure to speak to the guards about keeping them away from you tomorrow then.” Nanny watched as Allura eased herself back down into the bed, the stout woman pulling the covers over the princess’ legs. “They shouldn’t be getting you worried about that awful prince and his whereabouts.” Nanny had been the most vocal in her worry about how Allura was recovering from being Lotor’s prisoner, and she didn’t even know about the sex. Doctor Gorma had wisely kept that info between him, Coran and the Voltron Force, leaving Nanny who was prone to hysterics under the best of times out of the information loop.
“Thank you Nanny.” On impulse she reached out and caught the woman’s hand, giving it a soft squeeze as she smiled at her. Her expression was tinged with sadness as Allura realized this was most likely the last time she would ever see this woman. She very much wanted to claim a hug from the woman who had raised her, but to do that would raise suspicions, Allura settling for the touching of their hands.
“You’re welcome princess.” Nanny said, giving the back of her hand a pat. “If you need anything, call for me and I’ll be right there. No matter the time of night.”
“I will Nanny. And thank you…” Another gentle squeeze of the woman’s hand, Allura trying to stress how grateful she was to the woman who had raised her. “For everything.”
“Think nothing of it.” Nanny said, sliding her hand out of Allura’s grasp. “Now you settle down and try and get some sleep.”
“All right.” Allura said, watching as the woman turned off the lights before walking out the room. Allura sighed, thinking how upset Nanny would be when she discovered she was gone. The woman would most likely be bereft and unsure of what to do with herself, Allura having made provisions to award Nanny with a pension, and a lifetime position at the castle regardless of who would sit on the throne. She would be taken care of, not tossed aside to fend for herself in an uncertain future.
“Forgive me.” Allura whispered to the room, staring at the closed door. She could hear Nanny speaking to the guards, no doubt giving her orders about no unwanted visitors for tomorrow. She felt bad for the deceit, knowing how much her leaving would hurt the woman. But she couldn’t live her life this way, without the freedom to be with the man she loved, regardless of who he was.
Allura sat there for a few minutes more, counting out the seconds in her head, and then she was moving. Setting her bare feet on the carpet, she began neatly making her bed, making sure the covers were in place. She then went to fetch the envelope she had hidden, returning to the bed, to place it propped up against her pillows. She knew it would not be missed in such an obvious place, her last decrees written down on the paper, preserved for all time.
She had given thought to some of the matters that plagued Arus in recent months, writing down what she felt should be done to aid her people in recovering from Doom’s attacks. She knew many children had been left without parents, the orphanages crammed full to the point that some kids slipped through the cracks, wandering the streets of Arus homeless.
She wanted that fixed, making a note about them to take the abandoned prisons, and rework the buildings into suitable homes for the children. It wasn’t as if those buildings were being used, and it seemed a shame to tear them down when a little hard work could remake them into something grand. She allocated quite a large amount of funds towards the rebuilding, not just for the abandoned children, but for the towns that had been razed in Doom’s attacks.
She regretted she wouldn’t be there to see Arus restored to it’s former glory, Allura sighing as she began unlacing the straps on the front of her nightgown. The gown loosened around her neck, Allura being free to tug it up over her head, leaving her to pad about in her panties towards her closet. She paused long enough to drop the nightgown into the hamper, then flung open the closet doors.
Her first sight was of her lion’s pilot uniform, the pink and white lycra hanging forward of her many gowns. Allura knew her smile was wistful, as she caressed her fingers down the fabric, thinking how she had never gotten a chance to wear the uniform one last time. It was more than just the uniform she mourned, thinking on how she would have to give up flying blue lion, likening it to losing an old friend. Allura knew that even if she chose to fly a ship in her new life, no cruise or shuttle could compare to the power and speed that the lions possessed.
One last caress of the lycra, and then she was shaking her head no, shoving the gowns aside to root around to the back of her huge closet. It was there that she spotted it, the castle guard’s uniform she had pilfered earlier. She still remembered the excitement when she snuck downstairs with her mice companions, Cheddar and the others keeping an eye out for her, as she snuck into the changing room of the palace personnel. Allura had quickly stolen a uniform from one of the lockers, finding a female version that was off her size by a number or two
Allura began pulling on the shirt, quickly buttoning it up, then slipping her legs into the form fitting pants. Boots and gloves accompanied her look, and she clicked a laser pistol holster into position around her waist. She then carried the helmet over to her vanity, pausing to sit down and fix her hair. Her hands actually shook with nervous excitement as she began winding her hair up into it’s familiar bun. Before she placed the helmet over her head, she reached up for her pearl tiara, eyes sad as she removed it. It was a symbol of office, the crown of Arus’ ruler. But it meant more to Allura than a mere status symbol for the tiara had belonged to her mother.
For a second her eyes welled up with tears, Allura wondering what her parents would think of her to be abandoning her throne like this. Would they even understand that she was in love, albeit with the enemy of her people? She feared they wouldn’t, wondering if they would have disowned her had they still lived. “I’m sorry…” Allura whispered to the tiara, setting it down on the vanity’s desk top. “But I love him….”
She began rotting through her jewelry box, finding her mother’s ruby necklace. Her fingers paused over the many rings and earrings, but ultimately it was the necklace that was the only thing she took. She pocketed it, and then wiping her eyes with a tissue, she stood, lifting the helmet over her head. She didn’t yet pull down the visor, leaving her face uncovered as she headed for the bathroom.
A chitter was heard, a pale blue mouse creeping out of it’s hiding spot. She smiled, and knelt downward, rubbing her fingers under the mouse’s chin. “I’m sorry. You can’t come with me this time.” The mouse looked at her, and did a questioning chirp, Allura shaking her head no, sad but firm in her decision. The mouse seemed to sigh, then let out an angry squeak running away from her, back towards the hole Nanny had never been able to locate.
“Good bye.” Allura said softly, and headed into her bathroom. She began running the water, blasting it on the highest setting so as to cover the sounds of the wall opening up. She didn’t stop the water, knowing it needed to stay on to cover the sound of the wall closing behind her. With an uncertain glance at her bedroom door, she pulled off the torch that lay just inside the passageway, using a lighter to set it on fire.
Immediately it’s fiery glow illuminated the darkness, Allura stepping into the corridor, and triggering the closing mechanism. She resolutely told herself not to look back as she began walking, knowing Lotor must be pacing in agitation as he waited for her. She knew he was worried about her changing his mind, unspoken concerns lingering between them both. Each knew the other was giving up a lot for the other, and neither one wanted so much as to suggest perhaps they were doing the wrong thing.
She sighed again, walking through the darkened passageways, making the appropriate turns when the time came. It didn’t scare her to be walking in these hidden halls, Allura knowing she was more likely to run into her pet mice then a ghost in the darkness.
It didn’t take her long to reach the wall that hid the entrance to the dusty room Lotor was in, Allura pushing down on a panel. She stepped back as the wall began to open inwards, the crack widening to spill moonlight into her passageway. As it grew wider, she saw Lotor, the man standing dressed in the castle guard’s uniform, visor down in place on his face.
“Allura.” Lotor said, and just her name conveyed how anxious he had been. He didn’t wait for the wall to finish opening, he was already squeezing into the passageway to take her in his arms. “You’ve been crying.” He lifted fingers to her cheeks, brushing at the damp spots she had missed.
“A little.” Allura admitted, pulling back enough to lower the visor down over her face. “It’s nothing. Just some pent up emotions.”
“It made you cry.” He pointed out. “I think it’s more than you’re willing to say.”
“I…” She glanced away, thinking carefully. “I’m about to leave my home for good. Of course I am emotional. Aren’t you?”
He surprised her with a shake of his head, Lotor sighing. “I’ve little attachment when it comes to my father or even my people. I was always more interested in the power and wealth my position gave me then anything else. I won’t cry to turn my back on it…I refuse to.”
“Don’t be sad for me Allura.” Lotor told her, taking hold of her hand in his. “Doom is not like Arus. It’s neither friendly nor nurturing. If anything I envy you for having attachments to cry for.”
“It would be easier if I didn’t.” Allura began leading Lotor through the passageway, taking a way traveled path towards a downwards leading staircase. “There’s so many memories I take with me…good and bad…”
“You don’t have to do this.” He said suddenly, and she paused to stare at him with wide eyed shock. “We could find another way….”
“No, we can’t.” Allura said. “This is the only way that will keep the power struggle from continuing indefinitely. If we go to Doom, Keith and the boys will only come after me, determined to rescue me from you. And they’ll never let you near the throne of Arus, let alone sit on it.”
“Still, I had to make the offer…” Lotor murmured as they resumed moving. “Allura…do you have nothing you want to bring with you?”
“I have my mother’s necklace.” She answered, giving his hand a squeeze as they cleared the staircase. “It and you are all I need.”
“Glad to hear that.” Lotor said, and the pair fell silent, Allura navigating the twists and turns of the passageways until at last she stopped. She handed the torch to Lotor, and then placed both hands on the wall, going up on tip toe to feel along it’s plaster. He watched as she did so, seeing her push on a spot that looked remarkably similar to the rest of the wall. But a click was heard, followed by the low rumble of the wall opening inwards, revealing an empty room full of portraits.
“The galleria.” Allura said by way of explanation, gesturing for Lotor to put out the torch. He did so, then followed her out into the room, looking around at the past ancestors of Arus. Most of the women shared in Allura’s good looks, blond beauties with a red head or two sprinkled into the family line by way of marriage. “My parents.” Allura said, pointing at one portrait in particular.
Lotor took a good look, seeing for the first time the king and queen he had heard so much about. “Their love shines through, even captured in oils and canvas.” He commented, and she smiled slightly.
“Yes, I agree.” She said, then snuck over to the galleria’s doorway. Lotor hurried behind her, watching as she cracked open the door, peering out into the hall. It was clear, and with a pleased sound she gestured for Lotor to follow her out the door. “The castle docks will be in that direction.” Her voice had dropped down to a low whisper, Allura pointing as she confirmed what she hoped Lotor already knew from the blue prints he had viewed.
“All right.” Lotor said, and together they began walking in that direction, quiet and keeping their pace casual. They turned a corner, and there was a guard walking with his back to them. Allura felt nervous, trying to even her breathing as she continued at an unhurried pace, and she soon caught up with the guard as he began to turn. She gave a slight bob of her head, nodding a hello to him. He returned the gesture, not questioning what she and Lotor were doing in this part of the castle.
They continued to walk, and made a sharp right when they got to the dividing pathway. Allura continued to act like she belong here, knowing if she let her worries creep into her body language it would make the other men and women suspicious of her.
Without earning a second glance from anyone, Lotor and Allura reached the doors that led into the hanger area. Upon entering, people turned to look at them, and a man in dirty coveralls approached them.
“I’ll handle this, just like we planned.” Lotor murmured from behind her. She just nodded, watching as the head mechanic drew nearer.
“Is there a problem?” The mechanic asked, looking at Lotor who handed him over papers.
“Not a problem, but we have a direct order from the princess.”
“The princess?” The mechanic frowned, looking over the paperwork Allura had prepared earlier for this very reason.
“Yes, she wants us to go out to the prison…” Lotor said, his voice disguised so it sounded husky and different form his normal tones. “See if we can’t locate some of her personal belongings among the ruins.”
“Ah I see….” The mechanic handed back the papers, glancing at Allura. “No doubt it must be something important to her if she wants you to go out to that spot so late at night.”
“It is.” Lotor assured him, and then a tad impatiently asked, “So can we get a ship?”
“Oh of course. Follow me.” The mechanic said, and wiping his oil stained hands on his coveralls, began walking towards where the various ships and cruisers were parked. Lotor exchanged a glance with Allura, the princess wondering if his smile was as relieved as hers was under his visor. He just nodded at her, and she began walking after the mechanic.
She glanced around as she did so, remembering how the lions had been brought to the docks for repairs whenever they were injured during the long war with Doom. Right now there was no lions out on the dock, the recent break in the war leaving the ships in fine condition. At the moment, the ships out in the docking bay were all star class types, the defensive ships that sometimes fought against Doom’s star cutters to lend the lions a helping hand. They were more for attacking than flight, but Allura knew it would get them to the closest planet where they could then ditch the star class shuttle for the transport Lotor had arranged for them.
A cough alerted her to the fact that Lotor and the mechanic had paused, staring at her. She colored under her visor, and took a step closer towards them when a voice broke out into the room.
Alarmed she turned, eyes wide beneath her visor to spot Keith, his hair tousled from sleep, and clad in light gray pajamas. He had a blaster in hand, and a wild look in his eyes, mouth an angry slash as he marched into the room. She was torn between crying out, and making a run for it, hardly daring to believe their escape had been discovered before they could even get off the ground.
Lotor let out a growl, and she shook her head, not wanting him to move in front of her. Keith had spotted them, and was making his determined way towards them, blaster not wavering as he moved.
“Allura, stop this foolishness at once!” Keith snapped out an order, looking directly at her, but taking aim at Lotor. Allura quickly stepped in front of the prince, ready to shield him once more in case Keith started shooting.
“How did you find us Keith?” Allura demanded, hearing the mechanic let out a gasp of recognition at the sound of her voice.
“I had a little help from a concerned friend.” Keith said, a high pitched squeak accompanying his words. Allura let out a disappointed sound, dismay at the heart of it as she saw tiny Cheddar following at Keith’s heels.
“Cheddar, how could you?!” She demanded, hearing the mouse let out a lot of angry chatter as though trying to explain his side of the story.
“He’s concerned for you Allura. We all are.” Keith said, finger tensing on the trigger. Allura felt movement behind her, the catalyst to Keith’s sudden tension, the captain taking new aim at a spot to the left of her. “Let him go Lotor. Let both of them go!”
“Them?” She questioned softly, turning to see Lotor had the mechanic in a choke hold.
“Allura run!” Lotor advised, jerking his head in the direction of the closet cruiser. “I’ll be right behind you.”
“GO! He won’t shoot me so long as I have a hostage.” Lotor told her, but Allura doubted that.
“Be careful.” She told him, and then took off running, hearing the excited shouts of other mechanics as she drew her laser pistol. She ran towards the nearest ship, seeing the ramp was already down on the cruiser, and took up position to the side of it. “Lotor now! I’ll cover you!” She shouted, and began firing off laser shots in Keith’s direction.
“Allura, have you gone completely mad?!” Keith shouted, doing a bare footed tap dance to avoid the blast she lobbed his way. She didn’t bother to answer him, just concentrating on keeping him busy so Lotor could make the run for the ship. He moved slower than she’d like, dragging the head mechanic with him.
“I have something to tell you.” The mechanic said, in between angry sputters for air. “That ship is…”
“Perfect for our needs.” Lotor said, and jerked a thumb at Allura to go up the ramp. She did so reluctantly, lowering her pistol as she moved. Keith immediately recovered, and began running towards them, and Lotor suddenly spun the mechanic around. With a boot planted firmly in the man’s stomach, he kicked him towards Keith, knocking the captain off balance long enough for Lotor to run up the ramp.
Allura hit the button to close the doors the instant Lotor was inside the ship, vaguely hearing Keith and the mechanic yell something. But their words were cut off by the closing off the door, Lotor already running to the front of the ship, taking a seat before the control mechanisms. Allura quickly followed, sitting down in the copilots seat, watching as Lotor began flicking on the onboard computer.
Keith and the mechanic were to the side of the ship, agitatedly flailing their arms up and down, trying to get their attention. Allura glanced at them, seeing how red faced the mechanic was, his lips moving as he tried to tell her something. She shrugged, and began doing start up procedures on her side of things, hearing the ship’s engine rumble to life like a purring feline.
“There he goes.” Lotor said, and Allura looked up, seeing Keith was running out of the room.
“He’s probably going for black lion.” Allura said, feeling a bit hopeless at their situation. “We’ll never make it if the lions take to the sky.”
“Don’t count us out yet.” Lotor said, and the ship began firing off it’s thrusters, the people on the dock hurrying out of the way. “I know a few tricks to get these types of ships to really fly. And the lions won’t dare fire on us.”
“They might risk a few disabling blows.” Depression was making her want to give up, hang her head and accept that this was never meant to be.
“We’ll give as good as we get then.” Lotor told her, and she wished she could see his expression underneath the visor. “Buckle up Allura, we’re lifting off.” She barely had time to get her seat belt fastened before the ship lurched off the ground, tossing them both back against their seats. Lotor kept a grip on the steering mechanism of the ship, and began flying towards the hanger doors.
“They’re not open!” Allura pointed out, and Lotor shushed her.
“They will be!”
“But they’re not!” She was gripping the edge of her seat, white knuckled as the doors fast approached them. Lotor suddenly lowered the gun turrets from beneath them, and fired off a few rounds of photon, the blasts slamming into the reinforced steel doors. They buckled under the pressure, sliding open to allow the ship to zoom through them at the last second.