Soldiers stopped him as Lotor walked through the ship, the Drules eager to congratulate him, both on the success he had had in repelling the Doom invaders, and on his mating with Allura. He was all smiles, especially when they mentioned his mate, Lotor pleased, and glowing with his happiness. Word had quickly spread through the ship, the people there whispering about how his human mate had come to him, her concern and care doing much to fight back the illness that had tried to ravage his body.
Unspoken was the Drules’ relief over his recovery, Lotor knowing they had to have been worried about what would have happened to them if he had died from the fever. No one knew for certain what kind of life the homeless Drule would have had, if they would have been welcome on Arus for however long the planet remained free of Doom’s control.
It was something to think about, Lotor knowing as their leader it was up to him to secure a home for them, temporary or otherwise as they began preparations to fight for Doom’s throne. He couldn’t take for granted that they would all be allowed to stay on Arus, he had to discuss such things with Allura and her advisor. It wasn’t the only thing he had to speak to Coran about, Lotor feeling nervous at the thought of broaching the topic of marriage. He didn’t know how the human would react, but he wanted his mating with Allura to be recognized through the humans’ law.
He walked down the ramp of the warship, listening to his boots do an echo of sound on the metal. It was good to be in clothes that fit him, in shoes that weren’t several sizes too small. It wasn’t his commander’s uniform that he wore, but off duty clothing that had been found in the soldier’s barracks. It was Drule designed, with a bold splash of red against black. His bandaged hand stood in stark contrast with it’s white gauze, and he had placed his sword so that it rested on his right hip so that his left hand could draw it if needed.
He wasn’t as confidant a fighter with his left hand, but Lotor felt certain he could defend himself if need be. Not that he expected any one to attack him on Arus! But he was a warrior first and foremost, his sword an extension of himself. It was the same with many of the Drules, those soldiers wearing swords or blasters on their hips. Just looking around the area by the Drule ships showed many soldiers walking around, off doing patrols or drills.
There was many ships on the castle’s property, although they weren’t even half of the Drule armada. Those captured ships were back on one of Arus’ two moons, currently being checked over to see how much damage had been done to them during the fighting. Those that could not be repaired would be salvaged to make parts for other ships, nothing would go to waste.
Lotor nodded his hellos at the Drule soldiers who were practicing their sword techniques. Their instructor paused the lesson so that the men and women could bow to the prince, but Lotor was already moving onwards. He could see the castle of lions, and along with it the scaffolding that covered the entire eastern wall, and stretched up high in the sky. Many men were working around it, a mix of human and Drules that must have numbered seven dozen at least.
In fact it looked like they had more help than could do them any good, Lotor wondering how they did not all trip on each other while trying to work. He continued to walk towards the castle, watching the antics of the people there. Women were on the ground floor, bringing drink and food to the men working, or standing off to the side and just watching them do the hard labor.
He noticed that a woman in particular, for she was staring at him. He smiled at her, a bit bemused towards her shocked expression. His smile seem to galvanize her into action, she was nudging the two women besides her. They turned, and immediately began talking in furtive whispers. It was strange behavior, but Lotor chose to ignore it, coming closer towards the scaffolding.
He craned his head back, studying the men who were working on the wall. He spied some very familiar faces, the communications expert Ryder standing on the second floor landing of the scaffolding. He was currently handling a heavy wall beam with another Drule, carrying it over to it’s proper position in the wall. One of the Voltron Force members was also on the wall, the man Lotor vaguely remembered as being called Hunk.
It was surprising to see him there, the prince not aware the Voltron Force had come back from space. If anything, he thought for sure they would insist on remaining on the moon to guard over the captured Drule armada, which only left Lotor to wonder who else had returned to Arus.
Climbing down the scaffolding was Sabbath, exhibiting the catlike grace that was a trait that all Drule shared. His dark colored pants were dust coated, and his shirt clung to his back with thick spots of sweat. It was the sweat soaked shirt that made Sabbath stand out from the other workers, Lotor realizing that every man, regardless of race, age, or physical condition had gone shirtless.
As if feeling Lotor’s gaze on him, Sabbath turned, and raised his hand in greeting. Lotor walked towards him, the Drules meeting at a halfway point across the lawn. Lotor continued to eye Sabbath in his shirt, and noticed the smell of plaster thick on him. It almost disguised the fainter smell of a woman’s perfume, a smell that was most obviously not Sabbath’s natural scent.
“What?” Sabbath sounded defensive as he looked at Lotor’s grin. “Why are you looking at me that way?!”
“Sabbath, you dog!” Lotor smirked, and clapped a hand on Sabbath’s back. “So I take it, congratulations are in order!?” Sabbath did a slow blinking of his eyes, trying to go for a blank look on his face.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” He said, and now Lotor frowned.
“I’m talking about you and Romelle.” Lotor hauled Sabbath in closer to him, trying not to be obvious he was smelling the man. “Her scent’s all over you.”
“Are you sure you are not mistaken?” Sababth asked. “I have taken many baths…..and I am covered in dirt and dust…”
“And still smelling better than you ought to have a right to!” Lotor teased, then got serious. “Sabbath, why do you try to hide it? You’ve made love to her, haven’t you?”
Instead of grinning, Sabbath looked panicked, jerking away from Lotor. “I don’t….I don’t know what you mean….”
Lotor frowned at that. This was not the way of a mated Drule. They never tried to hide their union, they did everything short of boasting about it. But Sabbath seemed almost afraid of Lotor knowing the truth, and that was something the Drule prince did not understand.
“Sabbath, what is going on? Tell me….”
“Is that an order, your highness?” Sabbath asked, tone and body stiff.
“I ask you as a friend, but if you won’t tell me, then yes…It can be a royal command.” Lotor told him. Sabbath seemed to sigh with his whole body, and glanced around surreptitiously.
“Not here.” He decided, and gestured for Lotor to walk with him into the castle. “There’s too many eyes and ears in this place.”
Lotor couldn’t deny that, spying the fact that more women were looking at them, and holding whispered conversations that were punctuated with loud giggles. It was strange behavior, and he could not understand the cause for it. Did it have something to do with Romelle and Sabbath?
He followed his friend into the castle, and here it was quieter. They hurried into one of the side rooms, which was thankfully empty of people. Sabbath closed the door, and let out another sigh, seeming weary.
“Tell me.” Lotor said insistently.
Sabbath strode over to a chair, and sank down into it’s cushions. His hands folded around themselves, and he leaned forward. “I mated with Romelle.” He said it simply, confirming what Lotor already knew.
“And?” prodded Lotor, knowing there had to be more, a reason why Sabbath didn’t look as happy as he should be.
“And….she is ashamed of me.” His eyes lowered, Sabbath trying to hide his pain.
“She is ashamed of me.” He repeated, with no less agony. “She doesn’t want to be tied to me in that way. Doesn’t want to be seen as my mate. She made me promise that no one would find out…”
“And how did you think to keep that promise?!” Lotor was more than a little sarcastic. “Any Drule who smelled you would know you took your woman to bed!”
“I’ve taken a lot of baths.” Sabbath said lamely. “And covered my scent as best I could….”
“It wasn’t enough…” Lotor told him. “Let me guess…..you wear the shirt to hide the marks of her favor.” Sabbath nodded, and Lotor felt sorry for him. Sabbath should have been basking in the attention of both his mate, and the awe of the gathered men who would see his scratched up back. “Oh Sabbath….how could you promise such a thing to her?!”
“It was the only way!” Sabbath ran an agitated hand through his braided hair. “The only way she would agree to be with me!”
“But she’s not with you, is she?!” Lotor demanded. “Not if she’s making you hide the relationship.” He took the seat across from Sabbath, staring at the Drule. “She doesn’t understand anything does she?” Lotor scowled. “The little fool.”
“Don’t call her that!” Snapped Sabbath.
“Why not? That’s what she is….and you are an even bigger fool for going along with this charade!” Lotor scoffed. “Just what are you two thinking, do you even have a plan for the future?! How do you intend to make a life together if you are constantly hiding the nature of your relationship?!”
“I’m just giving her time…” Sabbath said after a moment’s pause.
“Time to do what?!”
“To get used to the idea of being with me.” Sabbath answered, and Lotor stared at him. “What?”
“The way you said that has given me a horrible sense of foreboding.” Lotor replied. “Sabbath…you did explain what she was getting into by having sex with you, didn’t you?”
“I told her she was my mate…” Sabbath began, and Lotor interrupted with a shout.
“That’s not enough! These humans are different from us. They need to be made to understand exactly what is happening, and the consequences of their actions! Does she know she cannot separate herself from you now? That this relationship cannot be ended?!”
Sabbath lowered his eyes, as though ashamed of his actions. “I might have….neglected to mention some of that….”
“Sabbath!” Lotor exclaimed, exasperated. He hung his head, looking prepared for punishment from his prince. “Just what did you tell her?”
“That I love her and want her to be mine.” Sabbath said, not meeting Lotor’s gaze. “That I would do anything for her, that I would always love and cherish her. That I would protect her with my dying breath if need be. That I wanted a future with her…a family…”
Lotor sat back in his seat, knowing it was similar to what he had told Allura time and time again. And if Romelle was anything like her cousin, she would need to hear such things repeated several times before it would take hold in her mind as the truth.
“She seemed…receptive to me…” Sabbath added, and Lotor frowned at him.
“Just when did it happen?”
“When we were trapped inside one of the castle’s rooms.” That confirmed to Lotor what he had been sure of. “She was scared, of me, and of what would happen to us if no one came to our rescue. I calmed her down, and assured her she had no reason to fear. That I would find a way for us to get out of this predicament. We….we got to talking, and one thing led to another…”
“I can’t imagine how.” Lotor said truthfully.
Sabbath shrugged. “She admitted she wanted me.” A hint of a smile played on his face, the first Lotor could ever remember seeing on Sabbath. “She agreed to let me have her, but that it would come with conditions…”
“And you were willing to pay whatever price she had set.” Lotor murmured, wondering how much he would have agreed to if he had been in Sabbath’s place.
“I did not realize at the time it would become a relationship built on secrets and hiding. That she would sate herself on me, and then deny me any further touches!” He looked pained now.
It sounded to Lotor like they had both sought to trick the other, Sabbath pulling Romelle into a relationship she did not want, and Romelle wanting to use Sabbath to scratch the itch she had. It was a fine mess Sabbath had set up for himself, one that didn’t seem to have any easy answers.
“You two have to come to an understanding.” Lotor said at last. “You have to be honest with her, and she needs to examine her feelings whatever they are.” He hesitated, but needed to speak the truth to Sabbath. “You shouldn’t have touched her with passion until she was sure of what she wanted.”
Sabbath hung his head, surely realizing the validity of Lotor’s words. “I want her so badly…” He raised his eyes, a desperate look to them. “How did you manage to wait so long with your mate….?”
“I don’t know how I managed so long without taking Allura…” Lotor admitted. “Some of it was made easier because she was so receptive to me and my touches. But Sabbath! Don’t lose heart! If Romelle wanted you enough that one time, it must mean she’s on some part receptive to you. You must press the advantage…and above all, do not allow her to use you just for sex!”
“I…I’ll try…” Sabbath’s voice was shaky.
“Don’t just try, do!” Lotor said, though knew it was easier said than done. He didn’t envy Sabbath the challenge he had before him, and he could only hope that Romelle wouldn’t lead Sabbath into further damaging heartbreak. “Come…we both have work to do.” Sabbath stood more slowly than Lotor did, still looking as though his confidence was shattered. But he followed Lotor out of the room, and there they parted ways, Sabbath off to continue to repair the castle’s eastern wall.
Lotor wanted to find Allura, and share with her what he had learned. But he also knew he needed to speak to Coran, and so he decided to see if he could not find the human in his office. The further he went into the castle, the more strange looks he earned from people passing by. It was starting to get on his nerves, Lotor tempted to grab someone and shake the reason out of them.
There was two guards outside Coran’s office, and they stood a little straighter at the sight of Lotor. He nodded to them, and they opened the door, Coran’s voice rising in greeting. Lotor entered, and smiled at the royal advisor, who gestured for him to take a seat before his desk.
“It’s good to see you are well, your highness.” Coran said politely.
“Thank you.” Lotor answered, and chuckled. “I hear I was at death’s door, but I can assure you I have made a full recovery according to Doctor Zutarei.”
Coran nodded, and sat down, an expectant look in his eyes. “I hear you have something to discuss with me.”
“Er yes…” Lotor turned nervous, not sure how to go about telling the man he wanted to marry Allura. “There are several things, but this I feel is the most important.”
“Do go on.” Bade Coran, and Lotor tried not to fidget.
“It’s about Princess Allura…” He realized he had no better way to prepare the man for this, and just blurted it out. “I love her. I want to marry her according to the customs of your people.”
Coran said nothing at first, just leaning back in his seat. It made Lotor even more nervous, the prince wondering if he should mention they were already a mated pair in the eyes of the Drule.
“Princess Allura has mentioned this to me already.” Coran said, and a breath Lotor wasn’t aware of holding, expelled out of him.
“Has she?” He asked, trying not to appear overly concerned.
“The way she tells it, you two are already wed by the customs of your people.” Continued Coran, to which Lotor nodded a yes. “I do wish you two would have waited, and thought this thing through.”
Lotor nearly laughed them. “Believe me, we both gave it much thought, and waited as long as we were able too…”
“And I understand you can neither be divorced, nor wish to separate.” Coran statement earned another nod from Lotor. “Under these circumstances, I can only say yes to the marriage.”
Lotor almost wilted with relief. “Then you will help me with the preparations? I mean, there is so much I don’t understand about human customs, and this is something I do not wish to make a mistake with.”
“Of course your highness.” A gracious nod from Coran. “And with the situation as it is, I think the sooner you are officially wed the better.”
“Yes!” exclaimed Lotor enthusiastically. He wanted nothing and no one to prevent this marriage from happening.
“As such, you should report to the castle seamstresses at your first convenient moment.” Coran told him. “You need to be fitted for traditional wedding garb suitable for one that is marrying our princess.”
“All right.” Nodded Lotor, wondering how long it would take to get the clothing ready.
“Now, you mention this was only the first of the things you wanted to talk to me about?”
“Er yes. I don’t know if Allura has broached the subject with you yet, but I would like to put in a formal request for Arus’ aid in my campaign against my father.” Lotor stated.
Coran nodded. “She has indeed spoke of her desire to help you. And I’ll tell you now, Arus will do what it can to help you in this battle. Call it your hero’s reward for the part you and your supporters played in keeping Arus free of King Zarkon’s tyranny.”
“I’d like to get started as soon as possible on training men.” Lotor told him. “I also need to start making calls….I need to rally the support of the Drules on the home world if we are going to win this battle.”
“Of course.” Agreed Coran. “It will be an expensive campaign, and one that Arus alone cannot foot the bill.”
“I wouldn’t ask you too!” protested Lotor. “I am not without resources of my own, and if I can gain financial support from the nobles, Arus would be greatly relieved of much of the burden.”
“Then I suggest you start making the calls.” Coran said. “It is my understanding that King Zarkon has yet to learn of the defeat of his armada.” A smile then. “Your General Pardust has been giving him the run around, feeding him lies that make him think the battle is going well.”
Lotor chuckled at that. “And my father doesn’t think to question where his commander is? Heh…he’s a fool.”
“Foolish or not, he is still a dangerous enemy.” Coran warned, and Lotor nodded in agreement.
“He will be twice so when he learns of our plans against him!” He stood then, and Coran rose as well. “Now if you will excuse me…I have things to attend to.” He smiled then. “You would not happen to know where my mate Allura is?”
Coran blinked at his choice in words, but was otherwise without comment on that. With a shrug of his shoulders, he hazard a guess that perhaps Allura was in the castle gardens. Lotor smiled and thanked him, hurrying off to find his mate.