The night sky stretched out before them, a deep set purple that was almost black and lit up with the light of a thousand stars. The only thing to break up the peaceful quiet of the sky was the sound of a ship’s engines, rumbling loudly as it was worked to go faster and faster, the cruiser a speeding gray dot that cut a path away from the castle of lions.
Lotor gripped the steering mechanism with both of his hands, eyes looking straight ahead at the open sky that led to freedom. Situated around the windshield of the cruiser was various devices, monitors and computers, lit up and blinking. They spoke of the speed he was going, the ship currently breaking several air traffic laws as it zoomed through the clouds, speedometer whining, numbers clicking higher and higher as he increased on the throttle.
Allura was beside him, strapped into her seat, fiddling with the copilot’s screen as she checked on the ship’s various functions. He had no doubt she knew what she was doing, Allura having proved a competent pilot of blue lion. Right now her fingers hesitated over a blinking green button, the light flashing to signal they had an incoming message.
“Don’t answer it.” Lotor advised her, flying through a cloud bank that set the white mist streaming around the sides of their ship.
“It could be important.” Allura’s words had him shaking his head no, Lotor risking a side long glance at her.
“They’ll only try to convince you to come back.” Lotor said, tone sure of his words. “We’ve come too far to allow any of them to cast doubts on what we are doing.”
“Do you think my resolve is so weak as to let a few urgent words change my mind?” She demanded, sounding offended.
“…Of course not.” Lotor said at last, with a sigh. “But why torture yourself any further? They’ll beg you, and when that doesn’t work, they’ll try to guilt you into staying. You know I’m right.” He added when she stayed silent, just staring at the call button.
“It’s not as if I could make them understand anyway.” She conceded. “We’d all be wasting our breaths on discussing this matter.”
Lotor nodded encouragement. “Plus we’d risk the chance of them gleaning some tidbit of information on where we are going.” He glanced at one of the monitors, and swore under his breath, seeing four blips on the radar. They were behind him, but fast approaching, no doubt the lions were in the sky.
“We’ll never outrun them.” Allura was sad, tone resigned. “Arusian ships, even of star class type, can’t match the lions when it comes to speed.”
“Then I suggest you start praying for a miracle…” A grim faced Lotor said, pushing the ship to go even faster. The engines whined in protest, but bit by bit their speed increased, the ship climbing higher and higher as it left the castle and the surface of Arus behind.
But even with that extra speed, the lions drew nearer, almost touching the rear of the ship due to their closeness. Lotor let go of the steer with one hand, reaching up to click on the ship’s shield, costing them some of it’s speed as it’s defenses flared into life. Allura watched him, not saying anything, her eyes showing defeated emotion in their blue depths.
His fingers began tapping on the overhead keyboard, typing in commands for the ship’s automatic weapons to begin firing on the lions. He knew it would not do much good except to offer up small distractions as the lions scrambled to avoid the erratic fire pattern. A glance at Allura, Lotor hesitating just a moment before he hit the start command, the quiet of the Arusian night being broken up with what sounded like fireworks.
The laser blasts were a million times more deadly, Lotor glancing at the radar and seeing the lions scatter, the lasers a hundred blips on the screen. “What are you doing?” Allura asked, alarmed. “You can’t possibly hope to shoot down a lion in this ship alone!”
“I know. But Im not going back. Not without a fight!” Lotor retorted, both hands back on the steering mechanism. The beeping was intensified, several calls coming in at once, Allura staring glumly at the flashing lights.
A tap of her finger had the view screen split four ways, the four Voltron Pilots appearing on the screen. Three of them looked worried, eyes urgent and pleading as they gazed at Allura. The fourth, Keith, was angry, eyes practically turbulent with unrestrained emotion as he gritted out his words through clenched teeth.
“Allura, call off your mongrel. Have Lotor stop attacking us, and return to the castle at once.”
“Mongrel?” Lotor’s brow lifted at that, fighting back an annoyed growl at the insult. Keith ignored him completely, staring at Allura as though his dark look alone could force her to behave.
“Keith please…” Allura, voice strained, spoke, hands clasped together. “Don’t follow us. Just…just let us go.”
“Let you go?” Keith repeated in disbelief, the words followed up by a scoffing sound. “Don’t be absurd!”
“Princess, just come back to the castle.” Urged Hunk, yellow lion’s pilot offering up a hesitant smile “We can work things out. You don’t need to do this.”
“I’m sorry….I can’t….”
“Why not?” Hunk asked, then added. “It’s where you belong. With your friends and your family. Don’t let Lotor take you from us.”
She looked helplessly at Lotor, lower lip trembling with emotion. He sighed, addressing the pilot even though he knew his words would fall on deaf ears. “She wouldn’t have to do this if you would be more open to her wants and needs.” Keith made an ugly noise, the other three pilots shushing him to hear the prince’s words. “Allura and myself are in love. We want to be together no matter the cost, and right now there is little option for us except to leave.”
“Come back to the castle.” Hunk tried again, this time speaking to both of them. “Let us hear you out. I’m sure an arrangement can be worked out.”
“An arrangement?” Lotor snorted, shaking his head. “Yes, Allura in a padded cell, and me awaiting execution in the dungeons. No thank you.”
“It might not come to that.” Hunk insisted, and Lotor laughed, the sound mocking. “Allura is still our ruler. If she ordered us to treat you as a welcomed guest, we would.”
“Do you think me stupid? I know how you treat her. How you refuse to listen to her commands if you think yours are better. No…” Lotor shook his head, meeting Keith’s eyes through the view screen. “As soon as we land, you’d be all over us, separating us.”
“It’s no use trying to reason with him Hunk!” Lance, the red lion’s pilot snapped.
“Or her…” muttered Keith.
“It’s not the princesses’ fault.” Pidge spoke up, adjusting his glasses. “Lotor has brainwashed her, just like you said Keith!”
“I am not brainwashed!” Allura protested, and was ignored.
“You won’t make it you know.” Keith’s tone was conversational, almost casual as he spoke to Lotor. “We’ll dog your steps every inch of the way, and when you run out of fuel, we’ll be there.” A laugh then, Keith looking amused. “Your ship is hardly fueled for a journey that is as far as Doom, you’d be lucky if you reach planet Salisda with the amount you’re burning.”
Keith had named the closest Doom outpost in this part of the galaxy, assuming Lotor would want to get Allura onto the Drule Empire’s territory. Lotor had no such far outreaching plans as that, although right now he was tempted if only to have the back up of Doom star cutters to fight off and distract the lions.
“How did he do it Allura?” continued Keith, lobbing a question at the princess. “How did he persuade you to turn your back on Arus, on your people, on us?”
“I love him.” She answered, words simple but enough to have Keith hissing in response.
“And for love you not only abandon your people, but you go as far as to hand it over to Doom?”
“I am not handing anything over to Doom!” Allura protested, and Keith let out a humorless laugh.
“Oh?” A lift of his dark eyebrows, Keith looking at her as though she was stupid. “He’s taking you to Doom. What do you think will happen when you get there?”
“Zarkon will be delighted to have you as a hostage. He’ll use you to enslave the planet, to finally add Arus to his empire’s collection.” Keith continued, words merciless. “With you in his grasp, Arus will be forced to surrender, and Voltron will either be dismantled or used to further his endless thirst for conquest. Do you WANT all that to happen?”
“No.” She said quietly.
“Then come back.” Keith said, no hint of pleading in his voice, only cold reason. “No one need know what you did. We can keep the gossip down to a minimum, and blame your actions on Lotor forcing you to leave with him.” He practically spat when Allura shook her head, the princess quiet as she told him no. “Damn it Allura, you’re a fool!”
The other pilots gasped, Pidge admonishing Keith. “You can’t speak to the princess like that!”
“I can and I will so long as she continues to act so stupid and reckless. Damn it Allura, your actions have consequences!” Keith pounded a fist on his ship’s console, supreme frustration on his face.
“Don’t you think I know that?!” Allura demanded harshly. “Don’t you think I’ve agonized over what to do long and hard? Keith…I understand that as long as I am the princess of Arus, I cannot be free to love who I want to love. I have duties and obligations to think of, I can’t let my heart rule my actions. This is why…”
“Allura.” A warning from Lotor, the prince ready to switch off the monitors to cut off the communication mid sentence.
“Let me finish.” Allura begged him, exchanging a brief glance with the prince before returning her attention to the view screen. “This is why I’ve decided to abdicate my throne.” Gasps followed her announcement, several cries of her names being issued.
“Allura no!” Lance protested. “You can’t be serious.”
“I am.” Allura told him. “Check my room. You’ll find my letter to Coran. It holds my last decrees.”
“What are you going to do if you’re not a princess anymore?” Pidge sounded even younger than he actually was, looking as though he might start to cry.
“Well…” Allura glanced at Lotor, a shy smile lighting her face. “I hope to spend my life with Lotor, as his wife and the mother of our children.”
“And you’d be content with that?!” Keith demanded harshly. “Allura, that’s nothing more than a silly dream. What happens when he tires of you, and tosses you aside? What then?”
“She doesn’t need to worry about that because I won’t.” Lotor retorted, angry. “I love Allura just as much if not more than she loves me. We’ll be happy together, and we’ll make it work!”
“I think you both need your heads examined.” Keith was disgusted, throwing a hand up in exasperation. “You’re both clearly insane. Allura, do you honestly believe Zarkon is going to leave you alone just because you say you’re not a princess anymore?!”
“Zarkon won’t be a problem.” Allura said, this time confidant.
“Zarkon is always a problem, and will forever be one, even after he finally dies!” Keith roared, causing Allura to flinch back from his words.
“That’s enough captain.” Lotor said, and was already reaching over to switch off the monitor. Protests rose from the pilots, frantic as they shouted and pleaded for a few more minutes of their time. “If you want to continue this discussion, you’ll have to open fire and bring us down.” A smirk then, Lotor’s finger tapping the button, ending the communication mid scream.
Silence filled the cockpit of the ship, Allura staring down at her lap, her hands tight fists on her knees. Lotor looked at her, absentmindedly steering the ship forward, as he sought words to say to cheer her up. “They won’t really fire on us.” He said at last, Allura just dully nodding her head in agreement. “They wouldn’t dare risk hurting you.”
“Do we have enough fuel to get to where we are going?” She asked, lifting her head to peer at the fuel gauge.
“More than enough.” Lotor assured her, fighting back a sigh. He didn’t know what good it would do them to reach Planet Nebula with the Voltron force hot on their tails. It wasn’t like they’d be able to get away and switch ships as they had originally planned. He was beginning to catch Allura’s mood of hopelessness, wishing he could strangle the little tattle tale mouse for betraying them.
“Maybe we should just give up.” His announcement startled her, Allura looking at him with wet eyes. “It’ll go easier for you if we turn back now. Maybe they won’t lock you up for treatment.”
“What about you?” She was frowning, tears ready to spill over. “What will they do to you?”
“I don’t know…” Lotor admitted. “Lock me up and throw away the key I bet.” He was betting the punishment for kidnapping Allura a second time would be a lot harsher than a simple jail stay, but he didn’t want to worry her further.
“I’d hate that!” Allura protested. “I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to give up and let Keith win.” Neither did Lotor, the prince’s ego chaffing at the idea. “Isn’t there some other way?”
The lasers were still firing, mini explosions in the air as the lions wove in and out of the clouds to avoid the ship’s attack. Lotor listened to the noise, trying to think, his eyes refusing to look away from Allura’s. Hers were sad, but held a note of pleading to them, desperate for him to think of a miracle.
He got one in the form of a sudden alarm blaring, a frantic, high pitched klaxon that rang again and again, signaling the oncoming approach of something huge. A glance at the radar showed it was several some things, with smaller blips circling around the larger objects.
“What is that?” Allura asked, peering straight ahead though the wind shield. Lotor looked as well, hands tight on the steering mechanism, ready to dart to the side to avoid crashing into the objects. But for one instant he saw nothing, Lotor frowning in confusion. And then, the clouds parted, the first wave of Doom star cutters appearing in the sky. Further up, still in the midst of descending into Arus’ atmosphere, was the large war ships of Doom. A mixed feeling went through Lotor at seeing the fleet, seeing the transport ship’s hanger doors open to let out more star cutters.
“We’re saved?” Allura sounded doubtful as she spoke, watching as the ships streamed towards theirs. Doubt gave way to confusion when she screamed, seeing the star cutters open fire on them. The red and blue lasers lit up the sky even further, bouncing off their defense shield, causing it to flicker each time a hit successfully landed. “They’re firing on us?!”
“They don’t know it’s us!” Lotor shouted, doing a hasty barrel turn to avoid being clipped by a star cutter. “They just see a cruiser from Arus, closely followed by the lions!”
A glance at his radar showed the blips that were the lions surging ahead of the cruiser, going to mingle with the star cutters. The two opposing sides engaged in battle, lasers firing all over the place as the lions worked to protect the star class ship from the Doom fleet. Lotor hastily turned off the rear gun turrets, leaving the ship completely on the defensive as he flew about, desperate to avoid being caught in the crossfire of the battle.
“Allura, open up a communication with the Doom flag ship.” Lotor said, Allura nodding and beginning to type in commands on the console in front of her. “Type in this code.” He supplied her with the channel all Doom ships communicated on, feeling impatient as he waited for someone to pick up and answer their call. Minutes went by, until at last a Drule commander appeared on the monitor, his white hair dirty and unwashed, holding a tinge of gray to it.
“Cossack!” Lotor called out, never imagining he’d be so grateful to see the man in his life. Cossack looked startled to see the prince, any hint of mocking laughter in his eyes dying down as he dropped a hasty bow.
“Your highness, you’re alive!”
“Of course I am alive!” Lotor snapped, jerking hard on the steering mechanism. “Quick, relay the orders to your ships that this craft is not to be attacked.”
“Of course Prince Lotor.” Cossack said, and a gesture for him had the men in the background leaping into action, their voices an urgent murmur as they relayed the order over the airwaves.
“What are you doing here Commander?” Lotor demanded, easing down on his erratic flying as he questioned Cossack.
“I could ask you the same thing, your highness.” Cossack slid a glance towards Allura, surprised to see her in the copilot’s chair. “But I shouldn’t be surprised. You always manage to wiggle your way out of a tight spot. And you captured the princess this time! Your father will be most pleased.”
“Er yes…” Lotor nodded, flashing Allura a guilty look.
“It was your father you know, who ordered us here. Our spies found out that the Arusians had you imprisoned in their dungeons.”
“And out of the kindness of his heart he thought to mount a rescue?” Lotor interrupted, unable to keep the disbelief out of his voice.
“Er something like that.” Cossack hesitated, and Lotor growled.
“Spit it out Commander. What were my father’s exact orders?!”
“Well…” Cossack seemed to fidget in place. “The King found it an insult, that they dared to think they could lock up his only heir. It’s more the implied message than any concern for you that he sent the fleet out.”
“I’l bet.” Muttered Lotor, a dark look in his eyes. “It’s more like he wanted to show that no one gets away with doing such a thing to Doom, right?”
“Exactly.” Confirmed Cossack. “Not that he won’t be relieved to see you returned safe and sound.” Added Cossack, offering another glance at Allura. “And with the princess of Arus as your prisoner no less!”
“Cossack, keep distracting the lions.” Lotor ordered, ignoring that last exclamation of the commander.
“Of course.” Cossack nodded. “I’ll have our men try and cut you a clear path to the flag ship.” He chuckled. “We can drop the robeast at any time. It should make mincemeat out of the lions this time.”
“Er yes….very good.” Lotor said, though what he had in mind would take them further than the flag ship’s current position in the sky. “I’m trusting our lives to you Cossack. Do not screw this up for me.”
Cossack seemed to shiver from the threat in Lotor’s voice, the man dutifully bobbing his head up and down. “I won’t. We’ll get you safely onboard a Doom ship in no time!”
“Good. Lotor out.” Lotor cut the communication, and looked at Allura. She was pale faced, and staring at him, making him sigh. “Don’t worry Allura. I have a plan. We’ll get away, count on it!”
“I don’t see how.” Allura answered. “There’s too many people around. Our plan was counting on there being little witnesses to our escape. Now you have half of Doom up in Arus’ sky, ready to escort us back to your home world.”
“Just trust me.” Lotor said, turning forward once more, jaw set at a firm angle as he flew in among the ships. His hands were slick with nervous sweat, and he could feel his heart beating just a little faster with excitement. He thought of all the potential for failures, knowing that even the tiniest slip could cause a fatal error in his plan. It was a lot to risk, and he wondered if he really had gone insane to attempt what he was about to do.
He heard Allura gasp, Lotor jerking the ship to a hard right, darting in between black lion and a star cutter. “What are you doing?!” She demanded, gripping the console with her fingers.
“Seeing if the captain will take my bait.” Lotor said, a grim smile on his face as he shot over the top of the star cutter, heading towards one of the transport ships. Black lion seemed to hesitate for a minute, and then with lasers firing, took off after them.