He had wanted to remain behind in the bedroom, to watch his mate pick out her clothes. More than that, he wanted to help her get dressed, even as he knew the temptation would be too great for him. Just thinking about seeing her smooth skin revealed, that pink and purple nightgown of hers doing a sensual slide down her body, was enough to make him close his eyes, Lotor holding back a moan.
His imagination continued to torture him, his tension racketing up another two notches as he imagined Allura turning to face him. ~Stop it.~ He growled to his thoughts, angered that they teased him in this way. But then he hadn’t been in complete control, of himself or his thoughts for the last few days. Not since he had discovered his mate’s existence.
He felt only marginally better to know she was suffering in a similar fashion, Allura admitting to dreaming about him. Of maybe doing more than just dreaming, if her words were to be believed. That gave him hope, Lotor thinking he was starting to affect her, perhaps in the fashion needed for Allura to come to accept him. Maybe then they could bond, the strength of their connection becoming such that no one and nothing would be able to pull them apart.
Certainly not this Nanny, who continued to stare at him with open hostility. Her hands weren’t quite fists, but her fingers were curled on the apron over her dress, the woman crumpling it over and over again. She seemed to have much to say, her face red with her anger, as she continue to admonish him. He couldn’t believe someone, anyone would be so upset about him being inside his mate’s room. Especially when he had done nothing more than hold her.
And even if they had done more, what business was it of anyone else’s? No one’s, that’s who. What he and Allura did or did not do together should not be scrutinized by others, their relationship examined for right and wrong. It was proving difficult enough to win over his mate, he did not want to have to wait on gaining the approval of those around her.
“You must never do that again!” continued Nanny, glaring at him. “Maybe you Drule savages don’t care about a lady’s reputation, but we humans do! I’ll not have you bring Allura down low, or drag her through the mud with your actions. Why, what if one of the maids had caught you? The whole castle would already know!”
“Madame. I dare say the whole castle already knows due to the loud volume of your voice.” Lotor pointed out with a drawl. Nanny sputtered and turned redder, as though she hadn’t considered that possibility. She gave a paranoid look around the empty hall, surely trying to see if anyone could be hiding just out of sight. Hiding and eavesdropping.
He had to smile at her paranoia, gladdened for the reprieve of her tongue lashing. He leaned against the wall, Lotor patient as can be as he waited for Allura to emerge from her bedroom. He was in no rush to make the call to his father, he was almost nervous over what would happen. Certainly he worried what his father would say, and his fingers tightened into a fist at the thought of Zarkon revealing that he had given Morduck permission to act against Lotor’s mate.
He also worried what would happen if everything worked out for him, his position of command restored, along with the orders to continue the invasion. It would make everything infinitely more complicated, and escaping the castle would be the least of his worries. Allura would be upset, and worse than that, she would surely be disappointed with him if he tried to take over her planet.
He couldn’t bear the thought of her tears, and he found himself wondering if they could put off the call for just one more day. Not that he thought a day would matter much when it came to furthering their relationship. He held back a sigh, staring moodily at her door, hearing Nanny start to speak once more. It was clear by her tone, she had recovered from her worry, voice hushed as she hissed at him.
“You just forget about this mate nonsense.” She said. “I don’t know what you Drules believe or if you can even feel love for someone other than yourself, but leave Allura out of your twisted desires!”
He rolled his eyes in annoyance, Lotor not bothering to look Nanny’s way. “I could no more shun Allura than I could the nose on my face.” She huffed angrily at that, and grew even madder at his next words. “I love her. It may not be a love you are comfortable with, but that doesn’t change that it exists. Allura is mine, to have and to hold, and nothing save death will part me from her side.”
“There will be no holding!” Nanny protested vehemently. “And certainly no having!” Lotor just allowed a faint, mocking smile to twist his lips. “Allura is a good girl!” Nanny continued. “She wouldn’t….she couldn’t…” She was stammering, as though she couldn’t complete her statement, as though it was too horrible to even think about. Fortunately for them both, they were spared from further conversation by Allura’s bedroom door opening.
Lotor immediately straightened at the sight of his mate, thinking she looked lovely in the lavender dress she had put on. It’s sleeves were off the shoulder, and pink embroidery had a row of roses sewn across the bosom. A pink belt cinched the dress tight to her waist, the skirt falling just under her knees. It was far more modest a dress in length than the short skirt her cousin had worn these past few days.
He was already stepping towards her, ready to take her hand and proffer a kiss upon the back of it, when Nanny stepped in front of him. She fixed him with a nasty look, Lotor started to scowl in response. “That’s as far as you go mister!” She warned with a shake of her finger.
“Nanny…” Allura was left blinking in confusion, the woman turning to face her.
“He’s told me all about his intentions for you!” Allura glanced towards Lotor, her face turning pink in embarrassment. “I’ll not have you doing anything to encourage this Drule, not even by accident!”
“Nanny, you are being rude…” Allura sternly pointed out. “Lotor is a guest here…”
“A guest that can easily become a prisoner.” Nanny retorted. “I’m watching you! I’ll not let you have the princess!”
“It’s not up to you who has her.” Lotor pointed out, amusement dancing in his eyes. “It’s up to the lady herself, who she does or does not give herself to.” Though he would do everything in his power to persuade her towards his side!
“You’re arrogant and over confidant if you think it will be you!” Nanny snapped out, and Allura touched her arm.
“Please….you’re embarrassing me.” A look at Lotor. “Both of you. Now is neither the time nor the place to be having such a conversation.”
Nanny paused, eyes still flashing with anger. “I’m sorry princess, you are right.”
“Thank you.” Allura was relieved, though Lotor saw no reason why she should have to thank the woman for obeying a request of hers. “Now…if you’ll excuse us…” She made a move to step around Nanny, but the woman continued to block her from Lotor.
“I’m coming too!” Nanny announced. “Someone has to keep an eye on this Drule!”
“This Drule has a name…” Allura said, looking less than pleased at the thought of this woman chaperoning them. “And Lotor and I only intend to go as far as the communications room.”
“I’m sure you have other duties to attend to.” Added Lotor. “Like making more of those delicious apple tarts?” Nanny’s icy look hinted that there would be no more apple tarts in Lotor’s future.
“Nanny please…” Allura’s voice was strained.
“Princess!” Lotor hid a smile, noting how defeated Nanny’s tone of voice sounded.
“We will be fine.” Allura continued. “I will be fine. So please…carry on with your daily duties.”
Nanny looked like she wanted to argue some more, but at last she sighed. “Fine!” Her eyes narrowed. “But if this…this Lotor tries anything, he’ll not be spare the wrath of my frying pan!” With that threat voiced, she flounced off, entering Allura’s bedroom.
“Let’s go before she finds something else to yell about.” Allura advised, already moving forward at a brisk pace. Lotor nodded, easily keeping in step with her, senses attuned in case the older woman came charging after them. He wondered what Nanny would think when she found the torn bed sheets, and nearly chuckled out loud.
“What?” Allura had noticed his snort, a confused look in her eyes.
“Your Nanny just reminds me of a mother ghoul dog. Fiercely protective of her pups.” Lotor explained.
“She’s always been that way. Even before my parents died.” Confided Allura.
“It must be….stifling to have such an overbearing attitude aimed towards you day in and day out.”
“You have no idea.” Allura said, leading him down a staircase. They came out in a hall, and here there was plenty of people milling about, soldiers and servants, and even just visitors to the castle. They all stopped to stare at them, people’s eyes widening at the sight of Lotor. A few even paused to whisper in their companion’s ears, and Lotor was surprised no one out right pointed at him.
Allura’s color was high, the girl blushing over being the center of attention. She hurried them past a group of people, and spoke a whisper meant for Lotor’s ears only. “I’m sorry. They mean no harm. It’s just…”
“It’s just they’ve never seen a Drule up close before.” Lotor finished for her, more amused than bothered by the attention. “We’re like the monsters under the bed, always whispered about, but never seen. It must be unsettling for them to not only see me, but to know others lurk on the planet, waiting for their chance to strike.” He saw her shiver at that, goose bumps appearing on her shoulders. It made him want to reach out and hug her, to offer comfort, but at his hand’s movement towards her, Allura stepped quicker.
“The communications room is just down this hall.” She said lightly, not looking at him. “You’ll be able to talk to your father at long last.” Lotor sighed, not bothering to hide his discontent. “What’s he like?” Allura asked, and Lotor paused.
“My father…he’s well…difficult to get along with at the best of time.” Her shoulders seemed to sag, Allura not liking hearing that bit of news. “He’s got a nasty temper, and a vicious tongue. He doesn’t hesitate to right any wrongs done to him, be they real or imagined.” He sighed, thinking of Zarkon, trying to see him from a human’s point of view. “I dare say he’s everything bad your people have said about the Drule…and then some….Cruelness personified.”
“My people have heard others say the Drule are evil…” Allura seemed to be shivering as she turned to look at him. “Are they?”
He was taken aback, and it showed. “I don’t think any race is entirely evil.” He said at last. “Nor do I think they are entirely good. Certainly my people don’t view themselves as evil, or see the conquest that we do as anything but a necessity.”
“Survival at it’s fittest.” Lotor explained. “From what I’ve come to know of you, Allura, you’d be shocked what people do in order to live just one more day.” She had stopped walking to stare at him, blue eyes looking so huge. “Doom is not like Arus…” Lotor told her with a sigh. “The differences are vast, and life there is tough…Especially for those who don’t have the luxury of living in a castle with servants.”
“And worlds that are suitable to housing life are always already inhabited by others.” Continued Lotor. “We’ve few choices but to take what we need…”
“I see….” She murmured, looking unsettled by his words. “And your father….will he insist on taking Arus?”
“Most likely…yes…” Lotor admitted. “It was no idle decision to come here. The Arus invasion has been in planning for months.”
“Then it’s hopeless to talk to him.” Allura sighed.
“I still would like to try.” Lotor said, and reached for her hand. “Please Allura…let me try to reason with him. Perhaps…perhaps something can be worked out. Something that would be beneficial for both our planets.”
“All right…” Allura said, letting him hold her hand as she resumed walking. “I’m trusting you Lotor. To do the right thing.”
“I…I know.” He was uneasy, knowing his hopes didn’t align with hers completely, Lotor wanting his position and power restored to him. He feared he was setting her up for betrayal, that he might already be betraying just by thinking such thoughts. It was not the first time he would think be mated led to complications all around, and Lotor was sure it wouldn’t be the last time either.
They walked in silence the rest of the way to the communications room, Lotor noting the odd looks their hand holding gained from people passing by. He was pleased his mate didn’t try to pull away, Lotor knowing it must cost her, her pride to be seen like this.
“Here it is…” Allura spoke softly, opening a door that had sounds spilling out into the hall. Inside the room was dimly lit, most of the light source coming from glowing view screens, and buttons flashing on computer consoles. Several of the monitors were on, people talking urgently on them. He spied the country side, and even one view of the forest, hinting that a new search party had been sent out to scour the woods.
He knew they wouldn’t find the advance party of the Drule armada, the warship would be long gone. He hadn’t yet mentioned to his hosts that the rest of the armada was hiding on one of Arus’ moons, and Lotor wondered if Morduck would even bother to move them to a new location.
Communication techs were in the room, men and women dressed in pale green uniforms. Many of them were monitoring the situation on Arus, and a few were conversing with those on the view screens. They barely paid any mind to Lotor and Allura, not until the princess walked over to tap the shoulder of one of the women. A short conversation followed, Allura explaining the need for Lotor to make a call.
All communications stopped immediately, the screens dying down with a hiss of static. They wanted no chance of the Drule King overhearing the conversations, and many of the technicians left the room on secret errands. It left Lotor and Allura alone with the female tech, and Lotor appreciated the privacy.
He rattled out the personal communication coordinates of his father, Lotor waiting impatiently for someone to answer the call. He crossed his arms over his broad chest, Allura and the female technician standing just out of view of the screen. As far as his father would know, the conversation would be just between him and Lotor.
A man answered the call, the Drule looking frazzled and harried. His gold eyes widened in surprise to see Lotor, and before the prince could get out more than a few words, he was hurrying off to get the King. Lotor tapped an impatient foot on the floor, wondering how long his father would keep him waiting.
It would be nearly ten minutes before Zarkon strolled into view, the King dressed impeccably in his blood red robes, royal scepter in hand. Lotor faintly heard the sounds of Allura and the technician gasping, and he prayed they were muffled enough that his father’s sharp hearing would not pick up on them. He could guess at the reason for the sounds, Lotor knowing his father was not a handsome man, even among the Drule.
“Father…” Lotor began, and dipped into a half bow, making sure it was low enough to convey his respect but not leave him cowering on the floor. Zarkon did not answer right away, he just stared at his son with narrow eyes, waiting for something. Lotor sighed when he realized what, and spoke the proper titles. “My king…the great and mighty Zarkon. This humble servant of yours thanks you for taking time to speak with me…” He knew it had to be bad if he had to placate Zarkon with such words, Lotor almost holding his breath as he waited for a response.
“Lotor…” growled Zarkon, his words coming out in Drule. This would not be a conversation Allura and the technician would be privy too, they wouldn’t hold a chance at understanding the torrid fast exchanging of words between the two men. “You’ve made a fine mess of things down on Arus.”
“Not I!” Lotor quickly protested, still waiting for permission to rise up from his submissive stance. “If anything it was General Morduck who instigated all our troubles.”
“That’s commander Morduck now.” Zarkon corrected him, content to let Lotor stay in that awkward pose. “I thought I made my wishes clear when I gave him your post.”
Lotor hid a scowl, not liking the confirmation of Morduck’s change in power. “That was a mistake…” he began, and Zarkon interrupted him.
“The only one making mistakes is you!” His eyes seem to blaze with fury, he stared at Lotor for one long minute. “So…I understand your mated now…?”
“Yes, sire.” Lotor nodded, and Zarkon spat, features twisted in disgust.
“How disappointing. I thought you were better than that Lotor. I thought you had enough human blood in you to avoid such a horrible fate.”
“Clearly you thought wrong…” It wasn’t the best thing to say, Zarkon’s fingers tightening on his scepter’s center. Lotor knew his father liked to throw that scepter at people, making a projectile weapon out of the heavy gold rod. “My King, it is not as bad as you feared. Being mated, it…”
“It’s weakened you Lotor!” interjected Zarkon. “It’s made you stupid and foolish. Don’t think I don’t know what it is you’ve done. You’ve turned traitor to your people, and all for a woman.”
“I can explain that.” Lotor quickly said. “Morduck was going to harm my mate. He intended to torture her, I could not allow it…”
“You should have allowed it!” Zarkon roared, and Lotor frowned.
“How could I have allowed anyone to lay one hand on my mate, especially a harming one?”
“You would have proven you were the better Drule if you had allowed Morduck to do as he wished.” Snapped Zarkon. “That you were better than this cursed biological urge our people are burdened with. Instead you act just like all the rest, a weak, besotted fool only thinking with his heart! There’s a bigger picture in the world, and we cannot afford leaders who cannot see beyond their mates.”
“I can still function!” Lotor insisted, and Zarkon laughed. “I can. Just give me a chance to prove myself…”
“You wouldn’t do it.” Zarkon acted all knowingly, even as he glared disappointment at Lotor. “You no longer have the backbone required to be ruthless.”
“That remains to be seen.” Lotor retorted.
“Oh? Then you would take this mate of yours, and do what is needed to be done?” demanded Zarkon. “Would you choose the Doom Empire over one woman? Would you torture her at my command? Would you kill her if I so demanded?”
“Father!” Lotor forgot all pretense at being respectful, straightening up with a horrified gasp.
“No. No, you would not.” More disgust on Zarkon’s face, the man beginning to pace before the screen. “And we need a man in charge who can do those things…A man like Morduck.”
“So it’s true? You gave Morduck permission to harm another man’s mate? Not just any man’s, but MY mate?” Lotor demanded with a growl. He was ready to lunge at the screen when Zarkon nodded, Lotor so enraged by the confirmation. “That goes against everything we Drule believe in!”
“Those beliefs make us weak! Far too many of our people waste their time on love, or looking for love!” Zarkon growled back. “It weakens us, ruins our soldiers. Just take a look at yourself to see how finding your so called better half has ruined you!”
“She has not ruined me…” Lotor retorted, but his reply was weak, uncertain.
“She has.” Insisted Zarkon. “You’ve lost everything. You’ve been stripped of your command, you’ve lost reason, maybe even lost your grip on sanity. Just what were you thinking, releasing all those prisoners?!” Lotor struggled to keep quiet, not wanting to admit he had done it because Allura had asked him to. “Those are the actions of a traitor Lotor….and a traitor is not fit to be my son.”
“I didn’t kill anyone during that escape.” Lotor pointed out, voice a soft growl. “I could have. It would have been my right to kill to protect her.”
“I might have been more impressed with your actions if you had killed.” Zarkon grumbled back. “As it is, you couldn’t even do that right!” Lotor tried not to flinch at the animosity in his father’s voice, but more than that he was angry. Angry that Zarkon had give Morduck the go ahead to harm Allura. But he tried to put that anger aside, bottle up the rage long enough to hold a civil conversation with his father.
“Mighty king…” Lotor began, words gritted out through clenched teeth. “I can still make this better for us. I can still salvage the Arus mission. Just give me a chance…”
“A chance to do what?” Zarkon paused, eyes narrowing at Lotor. “Just where are you anyway? Morduck and my men lost track of you in the woods.”
“I’m in the castle of lions.” Lotor began, but Zarkon interrupted with a laugh.
“The castle of lions? Oh that’s rich! My son is in enemy hands!”
“I can make a deal with them. Their princess is willing to work out a peace treaty between Arus and Doom. I suggest we take it.” Lotor said.
“You would suggest that.” Zarkon’s lip curled. “I know who your mate is. The soon to be former ruler of Arus. I will not be wrapped around her finger like you so clearly are. Doom will take what it wants from Arus, there will be no peace between us.”
“You invite war to this world!” Lotor snapped back. “What good will Arus do us if it’s devastated by battles?”
“If Doom cannot have Arus, then it’s better off destroyed.” Zarkon retorted. “As is the son who has proven useless to me.”
“I am not useless!” Lotor roared, making fists out of his hands.
“That’s not what Morduck says. They’ve all seen it aboard the ship, how twisted in knots you were over that female of yours. Just what do you think would happen if I gave you back your command?”
“I’d lead us to victory…” But Lotor wasn’t as sure sounding as he could have been, earning a derisive snort from Zarkon.
“You would not. I can see it in your eyes. You’ve made a lot of bad choices since coming to Arus, and perhaps the worse is allowing yourself to fall in enemy hands. There will be no rescue coming for you. Nor will my forces show you any mercy just because you are a Drule.”
“I am your son.” Lotor reminded him. “The crown prince, your only heir.”
“Son no more, I disown you.” Zarkon said calmly.
“For falling in love?” Lotor exclaimed in disbelief.
“For that, and proving you are just as weak as any other mated fool.” Zarkon retorted. “I don’t know what’s going on between you and that woman of yours, but I dare say you better enjoy her while you can. Because my forces won’t hesitated to kill you both.”
“If they so much as look at her funny, I will kill them. And you!” Lotor snarled, hands curled into tight fists as he took a step closer to the screen.
“You can’t fight us all Lotor.” Zarkon acted amused, but his gaze was harsh.
“I won’t have too.” Lotor snapped back. “Arus is not without protection of it’s own. I’ll ask you one last time….take Allura’s treaty…spare yourself a lot of unnecessary pain and embarrassment.”
“You’re showing you’re desperation Lotor.” Zarkon’s smile revealed his fangs, they seemed to glisten in the light.
“I’m just making you a promise. You know what happens when a Drule’s mate is threatened, the stories of the bloodshed and violence that follow such attempts.”
“Hmph. Even you cannot match wits against an entire armada!” countered Zarkon. “You’re bluffing Lotor, and such an act does not become you.”
“No bluff!” insisted Lotor, but Zarkon was laughing, gesturing at someone off camera to end the transmission. “Damn it Zarkon, this conversation is not over with!” But the screen turned to snow, static crackling loudly, mocking him with it’s noise. Lotor could only growl and curse, slamming his hands onto the computer console in a display of helpless fury.