It was difficult for Lotor to tear himself away from the battle, the Drule Prince intent on the proceedings. He had a lot riding on the outcome of this war, the most important being keeping Arus free for his beloved mate. As long as the planet retained it’s freedom, his mate’s safety would be secured, he wouldn’t have to worry about his father’s men hunting her down like an animal.
Not that he had doubts towards his ability to protect Allura, should the call to evacuate the castle come. He just rather see the outcome with the most secured future come to be, rather than live on the run with Allura. But so far there didn’t seem to be any need to worry, the Arusian fleets holding their own against the Drule armada. Neither side had come out the victor, both Doom and Arus seeming too evenly match for a winner to be decided yet.
It was strange, the Drule armada had more ships than the Arusian’s, and yet the added power of the lions helped to make the battle more even. Lotor had hopes that maybe the lions of Arus would be enough to eventually tip the scales in Arus’ favor, the prince amazed at some of the things the lions could do. Nothing could have prepared him for the sheer awesome strength of those vessels, and the way they seemed to have control of the elements themselves.
It was not an uncommon sight to see Drule ships set on fire, the flames supplied by red lion. Lightning seemed to crackle all around them, courtesy of black lion, and blue lion often ripped open ships, exposing their insides to it’s waters. It wasn’t just the elemental based attacks that made the lions so dangerous, their claws were steel, razor sharp and tearing through metal as though it was paper.
Beams shout out of the lion’s eyes, and they had shoulder mounted cannons, and tail lasers. Their colorful, metallic hides were tough, baring only the faintest of scorch marks from the attacks of the Drule ships. And the speed of the lions amazed Lotor, the prince hardly believing how fast they could move, their figures blurs on the screen. The star cutters of Doom practically moved like snails in comparison, the pilots not having time to evade the attacks.
The larger ships also battled, exchanging volleys of laser fire between them. There had been little losses on either side, perhaps five percent of the total amount of ships had been destroyed. The battle was still in the early stages, and almost anything could happen to tip the scales in one side’s favor.
Which is why Lotor was hesitant to leave, even when Allura began tugging on his arm. He kept trying to tell her one more minute and then he would go with her, and then a minute would turn into five. Allura finally sighed, and pointed out the following. “Lotor, everyone else has already taken a break and gone to get a meal. You haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast this morning!”
He had blinked and looked around, noticing that save for him and Coran, the other faces in the room were new ones. Even Sabbath had left, Lotor wondering if he had taken to pursuing Romelle once more.
“So please…” Allura had continued, tone begging. “Come to dinner with me.”
He didn’t like to refuse her, and so he found himself offering apologies to Coran. The royal advisor had waved them off, explaining that he understood that no one, not even Lotor, should work themselves into an exhausted state over this war. He had been glad to hear that, even as he was reluctantly following Allura through the castle corridors.
He noticed his mate’s mood seem much improved once they were out of the castle’s command center, Allura stepping lively, and smiling. He realized than that he had failed to note how bored she was by the war, the girl staying in the room out of a sense of duty and loyalty to her people. He was glad then that he had come with her to dinner, if the act could cheer her up so much.
As they neared the dining room’s entrance, he paused, just out of sight of the guards to hug Allura to him. She shifted in his embrace, and he found her blinking in surprise at him. “What was that for?” She asked, sounding bemused,
“Just…I just don;t want you to feel I am neglecting you.” He said, continuing to hold her. Her face softened, and she returned the hug, Allura speaking.
“I don’t feel neglected by you.” She assured him. “I know this war will take up a lot of your attention. I expected it too. I would never hold it against you when you are doing so much for my people.”
“I don’t feel like I’ve done much.” Lotor admitted. “All I’ve done is offer some advice today. Advice your captain seems reluctant to take.”
“But he follows it eventually.” Pointed out Allura. ‘And it’s been invaluable the help you’ve given. Arus would never have been able to manage a sneak attack without the information you gave us.”
“I suppose…” Lotor said, and Allura nodded, the look in her eyes serious.
“I know so!” She wiggled free of his arms, and took hold of his hand. “Now quit worrying, and come have dinner with me!”
“As my lady commands.” Lotor smiled, allowing her to lead him around the hall’s corner. The guards were still there, and they straightened at the sight of their princess. They murmured greetings to her and Lotor, as they pulled open the door, Lotor and Allura entering the room, and spying the small crowd that had gathered for the evening meal.
The dining room was set up so that there was several long tables spread out across the floor. He saw Romelle at one, holding court with several familiar faces. It was the girls that had been captured with the princess, Gloria seated to the left of Romelle, and the redheaded Kyrie to the right. They were holding a low volume conversation, full of nervous giggles and furtive whispers. Occasionally one would turn, to glance wide eyed at a figure sitting at the table next to theirs.
Sitting in the corner of a table that was empty of any other people was Sabbath, the black haired Drule nursing a drink of some kind. He gave off the appearance of being unaware of the stares he was getting from Romelle’s friends, but Lotor knew he had to have noticed them. It was simply unlike a Drule to not notice everything and everyone around them, and Sabbath would be capable of moving from inaction to sudden movement.
Case in point, Sabbath had noticed Lotor and Allura’s entrance to the room, and though he didn’t put down his drink, he rose to stand in greeting. Allura was already stepping that way, ignoring the empty seats at her cousin’s table to go sit with Sabbath. Lotor followed, and as he got closer he could smell the alcohol on the Drule’s breath, leaving the prince to wrinkle his nose in disdain. Just how much had Sabbath been drinking?
They took their seats at Sabbath’s table, Lotor noticing the untouched meal that lay before the Drule. He frowned in concern, not liking that Sabbath was drinking on an empty stomach. “You must eat something.” He said out loud, hand gesturing at the selection of foods spread out in the center of the table.
Sabbath shrugged, making no move to fix himself a plate. Instead he lifted his cup, and quickly drank down the remaining drops of liquid. When he went to pour himself another cupful of wine, Lotor exchanged a worried look with Allura. “Just how much have you had to drink?” She asked, making no move to prepare a plate for herself.
“Not enough.” Sabbath finally muttered, and he turned to glance in Romelle’s direction. Lotor followed his gaze, but the princess wasn’t looking at him, too busy responding to something Marie had said. She wasn’t smiling though, her very demeanor read of her tension, and her blue eyes were like two storm clouds. Lotor was grateful his mate wasn’t looking at him that way, and so could understand Sabbath’s upset.
“Have you too talked to each other at all?” Allura wondered, seeming to cringe as Sabbath began drinking his refilled cup.
“No.” He said, licking his lips dry. “She’s been surrounded at all times by those….humans.”
“Surely you haven’t been…defeated by a bunch of women.” Lotor said, a bit shocked to think that was all it took to keep Sabbath away.
In response Sabbath slammed his cup down on the table top, and growled. “I am tying to behave. To be patient like you told me to be. It would surely not go over well if I dragged her off in front of her friends.”
“It wouldn’t.” Allura agreed, and Lotor sighed, thinking at least Sabbath was starting to learn. “My cousin would not like to be manhandled.” Sabbath grunted in reply, reaching for his cup again. Allura looked increasingly worried at his continued drinking, but she began making a plate for herself. Lotor glanced at the selections of food available, and settled on a dark broth, with thick chunks of meat floating in it’s liquid.
“How is the war going?” Sabbath wanted to know, and Lotor paused in the midst of lifting a piece of meat to his lips.
“It’s going as well as can be expected.” Came his answer. “We’re at a stand off, neither side is winning…yet.” A pause, Lotor giving Sabbath a considering look. “There’s been no sign of dissent among the Drule ranks. Are my loyalists really….intending to fight against Doom?”
“You think the General has lied to you?” Sabbath asked, upset. “You think I have lied?”
“I think you believe what the General has told you.” Lotor answered smoothly. “It would make sense to have a few loyal believers, ones who would help sell his lie. Certainly, I’ve seen no proof that the Drules onboard those ships will mutiny against those loyal to my father and Morduck.”
“You should talk to him then.” Sabbath told him. “Demand he do something to back up those pretty words he told you about being loyal.” He was refilling his cup, and Lotor could only take comfort that Sabbath’s words weren’t slurring. “You have the communicator Ryder gave you, do you not?”
Lotor nodded, patting his belt where the communicator lay. “I keep it with me always.”
“Then call him.” Sabbath urged, and Lotor frowned.
“Do you think it wise? I mean…Ryder told me I am to wait for the General to contact me, so as not to place any unwanted danger and suspicion on him.”
“I believe this merits an emergency.” Sabbath replied. “You want answers do you not? Call and demand them from General Pardust.”
“Hmm…” Lotor mulled over the idea, taking a bite out of his soup’s meat. Faintly he could hear the chatter of Romelle and her friends, they had continued talking during his conversation with Sabbath. “Fine.” Lotor said, and rose from the table. “I will call him.”
“Lotor?” Allura was looking at him, bread in hand.
“I’m just going to a more quiet spot.” Lotor explained. “I shouldn’t be gone long. You need not come along, just enjoy your meal.” Unspoken was the command to watch over Sabbath, Lotor worrying what would happen if the Drule kept on drinking at such a quick pace.
“All right.” Allura nodded, and dipped her bread in her soup, the girl looking at Sabbath. Lotor didn’t stick around to hear her question to the Drule, he was already hurrying to the dining room’s doors.
Once outside, and a few feet away from the soldiers guarding the room, he pulled out his communicator. He stared at it a long moment, before pressing down on a button that would activate it’s signal. Static crackled to life, and then Lotor was speaking, voice crisp and commanding. “General Pardust, I want a word with you.”
The General kept him waiting, Lotor pacing the hall, listening to the screechy sound of static. Finally, after several minutes had passed, a voice spoke, the General sounding angry. “Your highness, you know better than to contact me on this line. What if I had been in a meeting with Morduck? Then how would I have explained your voice on my communicator?!”
“But you were not in a meeting, were you?” Lotor was confidant as he asked that, and he ignored Pardust’s sputtered out answer. “And now is a time when I need answers from you.”
“Answers? I could say the same thing of you!” Pardust still sounded angry, the Drule practically growling. “Why did you not warn me in advance the Arusians were set to attack this day?!”
“Merely a precaution on my part.” Lotor answered, pausing to lean against the wall. The guards on the dining room’s door were watching him suspiciously, surely not liking the fact he was speaking in Drule.
“A precaution?!” Came the sputtered out reply, and Lotor smirked.
“You don’t expect me to trust you completely do you, General? Not without proof of your loyalty. I am neither stupid, nor that trusting, especially when some of my own people betrayed me and tried to kill my mate.”
“I can understand your suspicions, but I am loyal to you, your highness.” Pardust was saying, and Lotor almost growled in response.
“Then act it! Why have your men not taken over the Drule ships? Why does Doom continue to attack the Arusian forces, unimpeded by attacks from within?”
“It takes time to plan a mutiny!” retorted Pardust, sounding defensive. “And not of all the men are in place yet. I didn’t get to complete all of the transfers…on some ships your supporters are vastly outnumbered.”
“Then they have become expendable.” Lotor said coldly. “If they cannot take over the ships, then they will die with those who fight against Arus.” Pardust was
accepting of that, maybe even approving, realizing Lotor was right.
“Yes, I understand.” The General was saying. “It’s unfortunate, but I suppose sacrifices must be made.”
“Indeed they must.” Answered Lotor. “So give the order for my supporters to mutiny. The sooner they get control of those ships, the sooner we can end this blasted war.”
“And then we can move on to the real objective.” Pardust retorted. “We can begin making plans to regain your crown, rather than worry about a bunch of humans.”
“Careful Pardust, those humans are my mate’s people. And she’s offered to have them back me in a bid for Doom’s throne. I will not have you looking down on them.” Lotor growled in warning.
“Of course. I meant no insult.” Pardust was gracious in the moment, Lotor letting out a haughty sound. “I mean to warn you though, to be careful.”
“Careful?” Lotor arched an eyebrow. “Of what?”
“Not all of the Doom’s forces have left the surface of Arus. It’s not many, not even a dozen ships, but I fear Morduck is planning something to do with the castle.” Explained Pardust.
“You don’t know for certain?” Lotor asked, and Pardust let out a negative. “Damn. I’ll be sure to alert the castle to be on guard then.”
“You do that.” Pardust said, then dismissed himself from the conversation. The communicator fell silent, and Lotor stared at it a moment, wondering just what else could go wrong. He was thinking in terms of the war, not expecting something to happen in the dining room. But happen it did, Lotor walking back, intent on relaying a message to one of the two soldiers that stood guard over the room.
“You there.” Lotor said, pointing at a brown haired soldier. “I need you to relay a message to Coran. Tell him to shore up the castle’s defenses. We might come under…” He trailed off, hearing a sound. It was no ordinary noise, loud enough in volume to drift out into the hall, and Lotor’s eyes widened as he realized it was Sabbath’s voice he was hearing.
At first he assumed the Drule was shouting, and he wondered what had set off the man. But then he realized Sabbath was merely preparing himself to sing, the Drule speaking loudly to get Romelle and her companions attention. Coran forgotten, Lotor rushed into the room, just in time to see Sabbath down on one knee. He had a hand pressed over his heart, the other one was extended towards Romelle.
His face was in profile to Lotor, but the prince could see how Sabbath stared at Romelle with sheer and utter devotion. He also seemed to sway in place, his drunken state making him unsteady even as he kneeled. Romelle’s face had turned pale, her blue eyes staring uneasily at him. And that was before he began to sing, voice a low croon that was surprisingly easy on the ears.
It was in Sabbath’s native tongue, that the Drule began to sing of his great amount of love for the princess, his heart and soul bared for her approval. He spoke of many things, and Lotor wondered if it was on purpose or not that Sabbath began mixing up songs, moving from one phrase to the next. And all the while he stared at Romelle, seeming to will her to take his hand.
Allura had risen from her seat, and she crept over to Lotor as silently as she could manage. She reached for the prince’s arm, and tucked herself in close, but her eyes were on Sabbath who was just getting started when it came to professing his admiration for Allura’s cousin. Lotor had no idea what anyone in the room thought of Sabbath’s murmured growls, the prince unsure if they could find the Drule tongue sexy or at least something to be admired.
He needn’t have worried, several of Romelle’s companions had turned to mush, seeming to swoon at the sound of Sabbath’s signing voice. One was even giggling, turning back and forth between Sabbath and Romelle. Except for that nervous sound, no one was speaking, no one even dared to breathe. Lotor studied Romelle, wondering if he should stop Sabbath, and wondering if the signing was doing more harm than good.
Sabbath’s voice trembled on a powerful note, the Drule rising to stand. The women around Romelle seemed to part, all but forgotten as he walked towards the princess. He never stopped staring at her, never stopped singing as he advanced on her. Lotor wasn’t sure what Sabbath expected to happen, Romelle hardly looked ready to throw herself into his arms.
She stood up at his approach though, and before she could flee, Sabbath had reached her. He snagged hold of her wrist, and with his other hand, he reached towards her face. But he didn’t touch her, just hovering his fingers over her cheek. His voice had dropped to a whisper, everyone straining to hear him. But he was singing only for Romelle’s benefit, pressing in close as though he would kiss her.
His lips seemed to shiver over hers, Sabbath almost dreamy eyed now as he sang to his mate. Lotor opened his mouth to issue out a warning, but it came to late, Romelle’s free hand grabbing a goblet. Liquid splashed in Sabbath’s face, the water a cold wake up call to the Drule. He blinked his golden eyes, wet droplets scattered on his skin and shirt. He was still holding Romelle’s hand, and she jerked on it now, trying to get free.
The spell Sabbath had cast over Romelle’s friends was broken, the girls chattering excitedly. “What was that?” The black haired Tabitha wanted to know. “Why was that Drule singing to you?!”
“He has quite a good voice, doesn’t he?” sighed out Marie, and Gloria was nodding in agreement.
“Never have I heard anything so sexy! I just…” A hesitation, Gloria blushing. “I just wish I knew what he had been saying.”
“Let go…” Romelle said, voice quiet but insistent. She seemed to ignore her companions’ talk, staring at Sabbath who was too close to her for her comfort. Sabbath muttered in Drule, looking almost guilty as he tightened his fingers around her wrist.
“Romelle I…” Sabbath said in basic, fingers moving to slide into her hair. She seemed to shudder at his touch, and he pulled back, disturbed to see his mate’s revulsion. Romelle got her hand free, and backed away from him, leaving Sabbath to stare at her in helpless desire.
“We’re leaving.” Romelle announced, and keeping a careful eye on Sabbath, backed around to the front of the table. Her friends were startled, not understanding why.
“But Romelle…” Gloria protested. “Desert hasn’t even been served!”
“You could stand to skip a few deserts!” Romelle snapped, to Gloria’s shocked gasp. The princess didn’t apologize, instead turning her back on both Sabbath and her friends, and began walking at a hurried pace to the door. The girls looked between Romelle and Sabbath, and then one by one, they all muttered apologies, standing up to rush after their princess. Even Gloria, who lingered the longest at the table, giving the Drule an uncertain look before hurrying out of the room.
Sabbath was standing where Romelle had left him, and he looked absolutely devastated by her rejection. Aware of Allura next to him, Lotor approached the Drule, not sure what to say. Sabbath’s eyes were full of misery, and the look almost pained Lotor to see it. Even Allura didn’t seem to know what to say, the girl just letting out a sigh, and clinging tighter to Lotor’s arm.
“I’m sorry.” Lotor said simply, and a distressed cry came from Sabbath.
“I will die without her!” He walked back to their table, and slumped down in his seat. His arm lashed out angrily, knocking over the wine filled cup. And then to Lotor’s horror, Sabbath placed his face in his hands, not quite sobbing as he sat there. He wasn’t crying, not yet at least, but he seemed to ashamed to look at anyone in the room.
“Sabbath…” Allura wanted to go towards him, but Lotor was tugging her away to sit at another table.
“Leave him be Allura.” Lotor said, pulling out her chair.
“He needs to be alone right now.” Lotor frowned, knowing that wasn’t quite correct. What Sabbath really needed was his mate, and right now, Romelle was refusing him. She might never come around, and that was something that had reduced Sabbath to a grieving state, Lotor fearing the Drule’s heart had broken tonight. He wanted to help Sabbath, but knew not how to do it. And that left an unsavory taste in his mouth, Lotor grumpy and growling under his breath.