For one brief instant everything was right in his world, as though the stars had aligned, and fate herself smiled down on him. The rightness of what he was doing thrummed through him, Lotor’s body at ease, the tension he had felt ever since seeing his mate faded, chased away by the feel of her lips moving against his. He dimly registered that she wasn’t trying to kiss him back, moving her mouth only to squeal out protests, her body fighting the grip he had on hers.
The fact that she was fighting him should have been enough to make him frown, but Lotor barely registered that, too lost in the sensation of learning what it felt like to finally kiss the one you were born to love. It was a distraction that nearly cost him his hold on her, the girl managing to pull back just enough to bring her hand bearing down hard on his right cheek.
That cooled some of the fire Lotor felt, the prince staring at her shocked. He wasn’t the only one, surrounded by slack jawed Drules and gasping Arusians, the odd group of people gaping at the entwined pair. Even his mate looked shocked at what she had done, quickly lowering her hand, her face losing some of it’s color.
“Ow.” Lotor said, his ego bruised more than his cheek. “That hurt.” He spoke in Basic, eyes narrowing as he glared at his mate. She seemed to pale even further at the look he was giving her, which frustrated him for different reasons. He didn’t want to upset her, and yet Lotor himself was mad. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say he felt some of her distress, not understanding why she’d object to his kiss, and so violently at that.
“Do…don’t.” She was trying to speak, fighting against her apparent fear to voice a concern. Lotor gave her his undivided attention, figuring it had to be important. It was after all his mate that was speaking. “Don’t try that again!”
His displeasure showed, Lotor making a rude noise as he snorted. “I’ll do whatever I damn well please, and that includes kissing you!” He made a move as though to try and do just that, and her eyes flashed with panic. Before he could pause to figure out why the act of kissing her unsettled his mate so, her hand was moving, trying to strike him once more.
The blow didn’t land, Lotor hand snaking upwards to grab hold of her wrist. He was gentler than he’d ever been to a woman that showed him resistance, merely squeezing her wrist with enough force to get her to loose the tension in her arm. She stared at him, face upset, making Lotor want to do nothing more than soothe away the hurt and confusion in her eyes.
“I won’t hurt you.” Lotor whispered to her, voice urgent and low so as not to be over heard by the others. She didn’t look reassured, not taking his word at face value. That made him unhappy, Lotor knowing as his mate, she should know enough to trust that he would see to her care and comfort.
Instead she began pulling on her arm, forcing him to tighten his fingers in place to keep hold of her. She winced at the feel of his fingers squeezing her wrist, and that expression alone made Lotor feel like a dog. Instantly, before he could stop the action, he dropped her arm, the girl bringing it to her chest, holding it there.
He stared unhappily at her, mouth opening and closing silently as he tried to think what to say to her. This was all wrong, terribly so, his mate not reacting in any of the ways he had expected. Where was the love, where was the eagerness to be with him? Instead she could barely look him in the eye, staring down at her arm, her body trembling enough to be noticeable. It made Lotor want to wrap his arms around her, hold and rock her until she stopped shaking.
“Sire…” One of the soldiers was speaking, voice coming out in Drule. Lotor didn’t even look at him, too busy staring at his frightened mate, but he heard the almost pleading note in the man’s voice. “We mustn’t waste any more time here. We should return to the fleet at once with our prisoners.”
He was right, Lotor realizing he had left his men in an awkward position, forcing all to watch his debacle with his mate. He knew they were probably wondering as much as he why the girl hadn’t fallen into his arms with recognition, but Lotor knew now was not the time to try and figure out the hows and whys of her rejection.
Reluctantly, Lotor turned from her, trusting his mate not to be so foolish as to attempt to run away. The one that had been named, shouted, Romelle speaking in Arusian at the girl. Her eyes were urgent, tone practically pleading as she screamed, but his mate simply sighed and answered in a sad tone that seemed to enrage Romelle. Lotor hid a smile, sensing the exchange had had something to do with his mate attempting to escape. An escape he was quick to note she had refused to attempt.
She had to be the sacrificing kind, not wanting to leave her friends behind, even at the chance she herself could get away. Lotor felt that would come in handy, his eyes scanning the crowded lake shore, noting the women being held by his men. Their hands were cuffed behind their backs, the women not struggling against the grip on their arms. All were docile save for Romelle, watching with quiet horror the exchange between him and his mate.
“We head back.” Lotor said, seeing the relieved looks on his men’s faces. He was proving to be able to think clearly even with the disaster of a mate who was proving to be troublesome. “If we get moving right away, we should be able to make it back to the ship before sun down.”
The soldiers made agreeing noises, moving into action. A rope was procured, tying the group of women together so that the seven of them could not wander far from each other. Only his mate was left off that line, Lotor taking hold of her arm once more. “Come with me.” He said in Basic, urging her to walk with him. The water splashed at their feet, the pair stepping onto the sand. She walked carefully, bare feet moving to avoid the rocks and twigs that littered the ground, making Lotor frown.
“This won’t do…” He muttered to himself, scanning the shore for her discarded footwear. “Put your shoes on.” He said, walking over to where her boots lay. Normally Lotor wouldn’t have cared, but something stopped him from dragging her into the forest, bare feet and all. Never mind the delay it would cost them a few precious moments of sunlight, Lotor simply couldn’t bare the thought of his mate’s feet getting all torn up walking through the unpaved pathways of the forest.
Thankfully his men did not comment on his act of kindness, and one even followed suit to allow Romelle and the maid to get their shoes on as well. Lotor reasoned they could move quicker with something protecting their feet, but inwardly he knew the Drules wouldn’t have cared, forcing them to walk bleeding feet and all.
His mate moved quickly, sliding on the white boots in record time. Lotor had to fight the impulse to kneel down before her, finding he wanted to help her in this small act of dressing. Instead he stood over her, body casting her in shadows, Lotor staring down at her. She avoided looking up at him, keeping her eyes on her task, nimble fingers doing up the side zippers of her boots.
The instant the last zipper was done, he thrust his hand before her face, waiting expectantly. She didn’t take the hint, rising to stand without aid, keeping her eyes downcast. It made her miss his expression, Lotor wondering if his mate intended to keep him in a perpetual state of frowning. Suppressing a growl, he took hold of her arm, and tugged her in the direction he wanted her to go. She stumbled, unprepared for his pull, Lotor reaching out with his other hand to steady her. That left her right up against him, and he couldn’t resist taking another inhale of her hair’s scent.
The fresh flower smell was growing increasingly familiar, as though he had smelled it all his life. Even if she refused to acknowledge him, her smell alone told Lotor what he needed to know. This woman was his, and he’d just have to make do with her constant rejections of his overtures until he could get her alone and find out why she was acting this way.
A cough to the right of him, one of his soldiers trying to get Lotor’s attention. He held back his sighs, realizing he had been distracted again from their mission, inwardly cursing that he was becoming just like all the other Drules of the Doom Empire. Focused entirely on his mate, with little want or need to be aware of what was going on around them. But there was a way to turn that to his advantage, Lotor telling himself he had to concentrate on the current goal, to get her back to his ship where he could safely hide her in his chambers. There was danger out here on Arus, another could try and take her from him. That thought had possessive anger flaring up in Lotor, the man smirking as he thought what he would do to any who tried to get between him and his mate.
“Come.” He said, voice not betraying his murderous thoughts.
“Where?” She asked, Lotor glancing at her sideways as he led her towards the trees. The Drules had surrounded the women on the prison rope, one man holding it like you would lead an animal, jerking them forward into the forest.
“To my ship.” Lotor answered, and she shook her head no, fear in her eyes. “What’s wrong?” He asked softly, and she all but whispered out an answer.
“The humans that go on Doom ships do not ever return home.” It was the most he had heard her speak at one time, Lotor finding her voice was pleasant, soothing to his ears. He forced himself to focus on her fear, considering her words.
“Maybe.” Lotor and his mate were trailing behind his men, walking through the trees now. They weren’t trying to be quiet, the women simply didn’t know how to walk so as not to give away their presence. The Drules had their weapons out in the open, men ready to shoot anyone that came across this strange procession. “But..There’s no need to worry. Your home is with me now.”
She hardly looked reassured by his words, trying to come to a complete stop though he tugged her onwards. “I don’t…” A shake of her head, her own lips forming an unhappy frown. “I think there must be some kind of mistake with the languages…”
“No mistake.” Lotor said, ducking them both under a low hanging tree branch. “You’ll live with me from now on.”
“My home is your home.” He was firm on this, annoyed at her shaking her head no. “It can be no other way.” She resumed her silence, Lotor wishing he could hear more of her beautiful voice. “I will take good care of you…” He said, wondering if that was her concern. If she thought to live in poverty, he had a surprise for her, his voice taking on a boasting quality to it. “You’ll want for nothing. Money, jewels, power.” He glanced at her, looking at the deep blue of her eyes and thought how he’d cover her in sapphires, spill the blue jewels all over her body, along with glittering diamonds, overwhelming her with his wealth in trinkets alone. “The finest food will be made available to you, the prettiest gowns, the best of everything at your fingertips.”
“Now I know there must be a mistake…” She murmured, Lotor urging her to step quicker for they were falling further and further behind his men. “Slaves don’t get that kind of treatment….”
That word hit him like a sledgehammer to the knee, Lotor pausing to stare shocked at her. She gazed back, nervous and looking as though she’d flee at the first sign of anger from him. “You think you are going to be my slave?” He tried for a calm front, hiding how displeasing the notion of forcing a life of servitude onto his mate was.
“That or you’ll torture me for information.” She sighed, the tone betraying how weary she felt. “You’ll end up killing me…killing us all when we don’t give you want you want.”
“Never.” Lotor couldn’t help the low growl that escaped him, abhorring the idea of killing his own mate. “I would never hurt you, or demean you as slave. You are mine, do you understand?”
“You keep saying that…” She looked so sad then, Lotor wanting to hug her and chase away the emotion. Replace sadness with joy in her eyes. “But I don’t…I’m not a possession you can own!”
“It’s not ownership.” Lotor protested, and resumed moving, almost running to catch up with the other Drules. “If all I wanted to do was own you, I wouldn’t…”
“Wouldn’t what?” She prodded when he fell silent. He kept from finishing the statement, not wanting to admit the depth of feeling he felt for her. “You don’t even know my name….”
“Then tell me.” Lotor said, eager to learn this beguiling siren’s name. She hesitated, shaking her head no. “Please…” Lotor got the word out, hating the almost begging quality of his voice. “Won’t you at least give me something to call you by…?”
“….Allura.” She finally said, and the look she flashed him was fearful, as though she expected him to recognize that name. He didn’t, merely smiling, pleased to know what to call his mate.
“Allura of Arus.” Lotor tested the sound of her name on his tongue, savoring it. “I am Lotor of Doom.” A pause, and then turning to see her reaction, he gave his title. “Make that crown prince Lotor of Doom.” Allura almost walked into a tree at that announcement, Lotor jerking her out of the way just in time.
“Prince of Doom?” Her voice squeaked out, the girl staring shocked at him. He nodded, proud of his high standing in the Doom Empire. Allura seemed to pale even further, and her walking became unsteady, Lotor all but supporting her.
“Are you unwell?” He demanded, concern making his voice gruff. She shook her head no, and tried to stand without him holding her up.
“I’m just in shock.” She answered, a hand coming to touch her brow. Allura brushed at her bangs, busying herself with that gesture. “I have heard of the prince of Doom. Of the…stories of his….your cruelty…”
“Ah.” Frankly, he didn’t know what to say to that, finding he was a bit embarrassed that she had heard of his reputation. He wondered what else she knew about him, and he prayed she hadn’t heard about all the wenching he had done, knowing a mate in the midst of a jealous fury was not a pretty nor welcome sight. Her slap from earlier would feel like a feather’s touch compared to the way she would hit him for having sex with another woman.
“I won’t be cruel to you.” Lotor said at last, after a few minutes of silence stretched out between them. They were deeper in the forest now, almost caught up to his party when Allura replied to his words.
“Why not? Why me? What is so special about me?” Before she could answer, she was hurrying onwards, concern in her eyes for her companions. “You won’t hurt my friends will you?”
This time he hesitated, not sure what to tell her. His silence alone seemed to confirm her suspicions, the girl looking tearful as she tried to pull away from him. “If they…cooperate, then no, there will be no need to hurt them.” That seemed to distress her all the more, her eyes looking as though the tears would spill down her cheeks at any second. “Allura…”
“Please….don’t hurt them…just let them go…Do what you will with me, but spare them!”
“How very self sacrificing of you.” Lotor’s voice was cold, his irritation at her willingness to suffer for others seeping into his voice. Damn it, his mate was supposed to only show this much concern towards his welfare, his and any children they might conceive together. He didn’t like that Allura cared for these women, cared enough to cry at just the thought of what their eventual fate could be, or cared enough to want to substitute herself in their place.
“Please.” She sniffled, the sound nearly breaking Lotor’s heart. He turned to her and found the tears had fallen, the prince reaching toward her cheeks with gloved fingertips. He brushed away a tear, finding she was trembling once more.
“I can’t make any promises just yet.” Lotor said, trying to find a compromise that would leave them both happy. “But…I will wait on doing anything with the prisoners until tomorrow.” He kept silent on how that would give the women time to properly think on their situation, and hopefully make them capitulate when it came time to extract information from them.
“Thank you.” She whispered, a hint of gratitude in her expression. Lotor made an a sound, embarrassed as he turned away, urging her to resume their walk. Up ahead was a clearing, large enough to house a few of the ships from the fleet. They were currently in cloaked mode, making the clearing look empty save for the Drules wandering around, and the door that opened up in the midst of nothing.
The cloaking mechanism was so precise at hiding the ships from sight, that a bird flew directly into it’s invisible hide, braining itself into an unconscious state as it crashed to the grassy floor below. The women had paused, gaping and staring, and the men who loitered outside the ships gave a cheer at their prince’s return, gladdened to see the party had been successful in returning with prisoners.
There was no way to fail to notice the way the men eyed the women, lecherous anticipation that had Lotor wishing Allura did not wear such form fitting clothing. He found himself tensing up, moving to guard her from the sight of others with his body. She said nothing to that, too busy looking around, nervous interest in her eyes. She was unresisting when he led her up the ramp into the ship, his men following close behind with their prizes.
“Put them in the holding cell.” Lotor ordered, switching back to Drule. The men smiled and nodded, one even licked his lips, leering at the short skirt the one known as Romelle wore. “And leave them there. They are not to be touched. Is that understood?”
The smiles died down, and one even objected enough to raise a protest. “But sire, I thought we were gonna….”
“You thought wrong.” Lotor said coldly, then added. “For now these women, all of them are under my protection. Make it be known that whatever abuse visits them, the same will be done to the soldier who perpetuated the crime.” That startled the men, but they knew Lotor was not kidding, the prince satisfied his men would think twice before trying to molest these females.
“Also….spread the word about this one.” He nodded at Allura, allowing his men to get a glimpse of her face. “If so much as one hair on her head is harmed, I will not hesitate to kill the man responsible for distressing my mate.”
The word mate rippled through the crowd, the soldiers who had not been there for the scene at the lake, just as stunned as Lotor had been by the revelation. They nodded their understanding, though a few looked unsettled, shaken by the thought of their prince finding his destined woman here on Arus.
Lotor watched as the crowd broke up, the women being led off in one direction by three soldiers, the rest of the men hurrying off to do their duties, and carry word about his decrees concerning the women. Only one man remained by his side, a General named Mordock who wrung his hands together anxiously.
“We cannot afford to delay things here.” Mordock said to Lotor, trailing behind him as the prince began leading Allura to his bedchambers. “These women will be missed. Their men will come looking for them.”
“Let them come.” Lotor gave an uncaring shrug of his shoulders. “They will not find our fleet.”
“But they will be suspicious!” Mordock’s voice rose in anxiety, the man not liking his prince’s words. “It’ll make it harder to invade their towns if they are on alert because of their women going missing. We must set to work immediately extracting the information from these females. Any delay could cost us big.”
“I promised these women would have until tomorrow before anything were to happen to them.” Lotor retorted. “I mean to see that through.”
“Why would you do such a thing?” demanded Mordock, staring shocked at Lotor.
He hesitated, but finally admitted the truth. “It was a request.” An unhappy smile. “From my mate.” Mordock’s eyes widened, the man just as unpleased as Lotor. “So you see, I really had no choice but to do as she asked.”
“You should remove yourself from the Arus project immediately.” Mordock said, and Lotor whipped around to glare at him. “I speak the truth and you know it! Being mated clouds one’s judgment. You’ve already made one foolish decision because of her, one that could cost us our victory in seizing the towns around the castle. Step down now, while we still have a chance to triumph.”
“No General. I am in complete control of my faculties.” Lotor resumed moving, heading down the corridor that led to his rooms. “One day will cost us nothing.” A wry smile then, Lotor almost laughing. “You’ll have to find a different way to get your promotion on this fleet.”
“It is not for my welfare I speak, but for the good of Doom! You know what your father would say!”
“My father will be none the wiser until we return to Doom.” Lotor hissed. “Is that clear General?”
“Perfectly.” Mordock said, but his voice made it clear he was unhappy. “Please your highness…leave the invasion in my hands. You need this time to familiarize yourself to your mate.”
“An excellent idea on that last one.” Lotor grinned, having reached the doors. “Do not disturb me unless I call for you. My mate and I will be busy….bonding.” He opened the door, pushing Allura inside, hearing the General try to issue out one last protest before Lotor slammed the door shut in his face.