He had been in the midst of a discussion, Lotor trying to learn everything about the secret tunnels that led beneath the castle, when chaos struck. One of the larger ships of the Drule had forcefully brought down the castle’s shielding, all by crashing the front of the ship into one of the towers. The shield which had been flickering steadily in a downwards descent of power, had not been able to stand up to such a direct assault.
When the shielding was brought down, screams of horror had filled the command center. For one brief instant they were left in completely darkness, not even the glow of the computers could be seen. And then power was restored, the lights dimmed down to be barely functional as most of their energy was being diverted to other areas of the castle.
Lotor knew it would not make a difference, when the Drule behemoth had crashed into the castle, they had taken out the side of one of it’s towers. Even three flights down from the attack, the people of the command center had felt the tremors. So violent was the shaking, some of them ended up on their knees, footing becoming unstable for several moments.
Allura was one of the few who had fallen, and Lotor abruptly turned from Coran and Darius, to march towards her. She stayed kneeling, palms flat on the floor as she tried to get her bearings. Her face was as white as a sheet, and for a second she looked through him as he reached down to help her up. Lotor worried she was in shock, the prince easing her gently up off the floor.
She stood before him for a second, and then was sagging against him, arms going around his waist. She leaned heavily into him, and he could feel Allura’s trembles, Lotor murmuring soothing noise to her as he began to pet her hair with his fingers.
“It’s horrible…” She whispered, clinging to him. “How could they do such a thing? What if there was people in that tower?!”
Lotor kept quiet about the fact that the potential loss of innocent life surely had not weighed heavily into the Drule’s decision making process. Instead he continued to try to soothe her, offering up words he hoped were not a lie. “I’m sure by now everyone has evacuated from the higher levels….”
“Oh I hope so!” Allura said tearfully. He continued to hold her, easing his fingers from her hair, so that they wiped at the tears that were dripping down her cheeks. She really was too fragile to be in the midst of a war zone, and he damned Morduck and his father for putting her in such a situation.
“And we should do the same.” Continued Lotor, and Allura’s eyes widened.
“What?! Now?” She pulled back with a frantic shake of her head. “But we haven’t had nearly enough time to gather the supplies needed for our travels…”
“We’ll have to do without.” Lotor told her, speaking over her protests.
“And I don’t know if everyone made it to the basement level yet….”
“We can’t afford to worry about the others…” It was a hard truth, one that was necessary to their survival. “Allura, that ship has opened a way for the enemy soldiers to enter the castle. No doubt even now they are departing from it, and are making their way through the castle. We don’t have time to talk this through, we have to get moving!”
“Prince Lotor is right.” He was grateful for Captain Darius’ support, the guard moving towards them. “Princess….we have no way of knowing what is going on up there. Our monitors’ power was knocked out, and we are close to being sitting targets in the darkness. We have to start making our way to the basement level…”
He stared at Allura, seeing her wilt, and close her eyes in defeat. “All right.” She whispered, and even Lotor in his nearness had to strain to hear her voice. “We will go now…” Lotor hugged her, his every motion screaming his relief that she was making things easier for him.
Coran began talking, his voice carrying throughout the room as he told the technicians to leave their stations. The men and women were eager to obey, their fearful chatter dying down as they began heading out the room. The few remaining guards held back, waiting for the orders that would decide their fate.
“We will remain behind.” Captain Darius decided, and Allura gasped. “If we can delay the Drule even for a few minutes, then it will be a worthwhile endeavor for us to undertake.”
Allura gasped out a protest. “No! Captain! If you remain here, you will most likely die, and so will your men!”
“Princess…” A bland smile from Darius, the man shaking his head sadly. “Do you have such little faith in our abilities as fighters?”
“What?! No! Of course not!” She cried out, abashed.
“Then give us your approval and your blessing.” Captain Darius urged her. “It is for your sake, and your people, that we do this.”
She stared at him, and looked as though she would break down into even more tears, Lotor placing a hand on her shoulder in support. “All right….you have my blessing…but…do your best to come away alive!”
They were wasting time, but Lotor stuck out his hand to the captain. “You’re a good man, captain.”
“So are you.” Darius nodded, and shook Lotor’s hand. “Take care of the princess for me.”
“That I will.” Lotor said earnestly, before pulling back his hand, and taking hold of Allura’s arm. She seemed to need that steadying touch, Allura walking as though drunk towards the command center’s exit. Coran followed on their heels, and the trio began making their way to the nearest staircase.
The castle continued to shake every few minutes, and Allura let out a mournful sound. “Will there be anything left of my home before this nightmare is over and done with?”
Lotor shared a look with Coran, the man seeming weary and uncertain of what to say. “We’ll rebuild whatever they destroy.” The advisor said at last, and Allura sighed.
“It won’t be the same…”
“They can destroy this building, but they can’t take away the memories you have made here.” Lotor told her, but she didn’t seem reassured. Nor did she speak, Allura allowing the three of them to travel in silence towards the staircase.
As they reached it, they heard the sound of rushing footsteps, the party drawing to a halt. Lotor drew Allura behind his back, his stance going into a defensive pose as he waited to see just who was running up the staircase. He was unprepared for the sight of Gloria, and several other girls, each one looking wild eyed and frazzled. They cried out when they spied the trio, and Allura was already rushing towards them.
“Gloria! Marie! Tabitha!” Allura touched hands with each girl, the women seeming to gain comfort from each other. “What in the world are you doing here?! You should be down by the tunnels!”
“Yes.” Lotor was frowning at them, wondering why they had left the evacuation point. “Why are you here? What’s going on?” His voice was stern, not betraying the worry he felt at the thought of something else going wrong.
“Oh it’s horrible, your highness!” exclaimed Gloria. Allura seemed to tense up at those words, her back stiffening. “Romelle and Sabbath…”
“What about my cousin and Sabbath?” Allura asked, and Lotor could only wish the news would be that the two were fighting.
“They…they haven’t come back yet!” Tabitha cried out, Allura’s voice snapping out a question.
“Haven’t come back yet? What do you mean?!”
The three girls began babbling out answers, and Lotor drew forward to stand besides Allura. “One at a time.” He ordered gruffly, and the girls exchanged looks before allowing Gloria to explain.
“There were a few maids who hadn’t come down to basement.” She said. “Nanny was among them….”
“Nanny?!” A sharp gasp from Allura.
“Romelle insisted on going to get Nanny and the other maids herself.” Continued Gloria.
“And Sabbath agreed to this?!” Lotor’s shock was no less at the women’s hesitant nods.
“She didn’t give him a choice!” Marie said. “She ordered him to come with her on this retrieval errand.”
“Nanny and the other maids arrived soon after the lights went out….” added Tabitha. “But neither the princess nor the Drule returned…”
“Sabbath wouldn’t leave Romelle’s side.” Lotor assured them. “Wherever they are, he’s taking good care of her.”
“We fear they went up to the third floor of the castle…” Gloria said, and Allura cried out a no. “Nanny said she and the other maids had been on the third floor when the call to evacuate came…and they did not run into anyone on their way down…”
“This is bad.” Coran said, his mustache unable to hide his frown. “They could have been on the third floor when that ship hit the tower…” As he spoke, Allura suddenly broke away from the group, not saying a word as she began to run back the way they had just come from. Lotor didn’t pause to listen to Coran and the girl’s protests, he was already chasing after his mate.
“Allura come back here!” He shouted, trying to hold in his growl of annoyance. He knew she was most likely trying to head back to search for her cousin, and knew he couldn’t allow her to do that. “There’s nothing you can do!” he added, as she stayed several steps ahead of him. She was being surprisingly fast for a human female, darting around corners, and heading towards a stair case that led up to the higher levels.
He caught up to her on the second step, snatching hold of the back of her shirt. It was a wonder it didn’t rip, so determined was Allura to avoid him. It didn’t stop Lotor from jerking her back into his embrace, the princess struggling mightily to get free.
“Let me go Lotor!” She cried out, fighting him. She grabbed onto the stair’s railing with one hand, determined to cling to it in an effort to keep him from dragging her to the basement. “I have to…”
“You have to what?!” Lotor demanded, working to pry her fingers off the railing. “Your cousin and Sabbath are in enough danger without you adding to it!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Allura gasped out in indignation. He wisely did not answer, and Allura began to list off the ways they could be in trouble. “They could be hurt, or trapped, or even facing off against the Drule invaders! We can’t just leave them to that fate. We have to help them!”
“Allura…Listen to me!” Lotor managed to pull her off the railing, spinning her around to face him on the stairs. “This castle is under attack, soldiers are running rampant on the upper floors for all we know!”
“Which means we have to hurry!”
“Allura, no…we’re leaving. If they are still alive…” Lotor began, and Allura gasped in horror.
“What do you mean if?!”
“If they are still alive…” He tried again, fingers digging into her struggling form. “Sabbath will do his best to protect Romelle.”
“What if his best is not enough?!” Allura demanded tearfully.
“You’ve tasted a small sample of what a Drule does when his mate is in danger. Sabbath’s fury will be unleashed if anyone so much as look at your cousin funny!” Lotor told her. “Now come with me…”
“Lotor, please….every minute we waste talking about this, is another minute we could have spent looking for them…” Her tone was begging, but Lotor didn’t consider giving in. “Please…I’ll go back willingly, but only if you promise to look for them!”
He stared at her in disbelief for a moment, knowing he didn’t need to make a deal with her. He could easily carry her off, despite her kicks and her screams. But then she would probably spend the rest of her life hating him, especially if her cousin did end up dead.
“All right.” Lotor agreed at last, cautiously letting go of her. “I’ll do a quick but thorough search for them. But you have to go to the evacuation point NOW.” Tears were streaming down her face, but she nodded gratefully.
“Yes.” She gave him a quick kiss on the lips, a sob bubbling up between them. “Oh please…be careful, and find them!”
“I will do my best.” Lotor promised her, and pushed her in the direction of the basement staircase. “Now go.” Allura took an uncertain step away from him, and then another, casting backward glances at him. She must have realized he wasn’t going to move until she was well out of sight, because then she took off running.
With a grumbled out sigh, Lotor drew his sword, and began making his way up the staircase. He wasn’t entirely happy with the choice he had made, and yet felt it necessary in order to ensure their future happiness.
The lights were dimmer yet on the second floor, but the glow of his sword helped illuminate the area around him for several feet. He walked past doors, some open, some closed, Lotor peering inside them all. He didn’t see signs of anyone, and most of the rooms looked immaculate, save for the ones that were directly beneath the third floor’s damaged tower.
It was those that had rubble strewn about the floor, Lotor carefully picking his way over bits that had fallen from the ceiling. In front of one such door, lay chunks of the ceiling, along with caved in furniture. He thought he could hear a faint pounding coming from the other side of the door, and it was with a feeling of dread in his stomach that he approached it.
Once in front of the door, he could hear the pounding continuing, and the muffled cry of voices. At least two people were trapped on the other side, and they weren’t happy about their circumstances. He couldn’t make out the words they were saying, but he could hear the emotions they projected.
With a sigh, Lotor rapped his knuckles on the door, to let then know he was there. It got quiet for a moment, and then the voices grew excited, raising in volume. It still didn’t let him make out what they were saying, and Lotor shouted at them to be patient. He sheathed his sword, and began to work to move some of the rubble out of the way. He actually got a very huge chunk of ceiling off of a collapsed chair, when he heard the sound of footsteps charging towards him.
With a curse, he dropped the ceiling pieces, and drew his sword. He was already diving to land behind a large piece of rubble, when laser fire erupted all around him. The hall was filled with the colorful lights of the lasers, some of the bolts charring the wallpaper of the walls, or ricocheting off his twirling sword. On the heels of the lasers, came the Drule soldiers, the men marching forward until they realized their blasts were being bounced back to them.
Several of the soldiers hit the floor, trying to avoid the ricocheting lasers, while others were hit square in the chest, dropping down dead to the floor. Lotor continued to move his sword in rapid, complex patterns, cursing the fact that he was pinned in place with no opening to make a run for it. Not that he could risk turning his back long enough to run in that direction.
The laser fire continued, and Lotor worried that he would tire before they ran out of charges for their weapons. The fighting needed to end, and quickly, if he wanted it to go in his favor. With a growl, and another complex twirl of his sword, he was rushing forward, the Drule soldiers shouting in surprise at his forward assault. The lasers bounced off his sword, and he swore he could feel the heat of the ones that passed by him, far too close for comfort.
He knew he was exceedingly lucky that the worst thing done to him was a laser that tore open the sleeve of his shirt. And then he was before the guards, diving into the midst of them, to began slashing outwards with his sword. They panicked, and chaos reigned, guards opening fire on each other as they tried to get a lock on Lotor’s movements. He didn’t allow them the chance, always on the move, sword slashing, blood spurting, splashing onto him and the people around him.
He wasn’t always as precise as he would have liked with his attacks, some of the soldiers suffering instead of dying immediately. Body parts flew in the air, heads rolling, and arms falling to the floor. Lotor longed to pick up a blaster, and use it on the soldiers, but he had no break in the action to grab one.
It all happened within minutes, perhaps six in all, before the smarter soldiers wised up, and put away their blasters, to favor their own swords. Lotor was left to duel against seven sword bearing Drules, and as he finished off the last laser shooter, he was quick to grab the sword on the dying Drule’s belt. He jerked it out of it’s sheathe almost violently, giving both swords a twirl. He wasn’t as confidant with his left hand as he was his right, but Lotor was determined to not be brought down by these men.
They charged him, trying to surround him. Lotor’s arms were a blur, the prince parrying and thrusting, blocking one man’s sword with his left hand, while stabbing forward into another man’s chest with his right. It was just a quick thrust, the sword going in smoothly, and coming out just as fast. He was already kicking the body away from him, fighting with his left hand at one of the soldiers, when another sliced into his back.
Lotor held back his cry of pain, instead turning with real menace flashing in his eyes. He lashed out with his right arm, slashing open the face of the Drule who had attacked him. He then turned his attention to the five remaining soldiers, when he heard the sound of feet rushing to him. He swore, catching sight of more approaching Drules, and began fighting even more desperately and dirty.