The hologram was currently set in a round shape, looking very much like a large ball that was the width of the table it floated over. It’s top nearly brushed the ceiling, and it rotated constantly, it’s pace moving faster than the actual planet it represented. Lotor knew that the planet itself took a full twenty-four hours before completing a single rotation, and that it took nearly four hundred days to circle around the sun it orbited.
He knew the world had four seasons, the weather and light dependent on the planet’s position to the sun. Three of the seasons were perfect for growing crops, the food having plenty of time to be planted and picked before the winter frost would approach. The winter season was still far from them, the planet in the midst of early spring. Lotor looked forward to feeling the warmer weather, knowing his own world was suffering from a perpetual freeze, the smog filled skies having blotted out the sun.
He knew if he wanted he could conjure up a hologram that was this planet’s twin in size. But not in looks, his world, Doom, a dismal coloration of drab grays and browns, a direct contrast to the mishmash of blues and greens of the new planet. Why it even had some white coloration to it, his scientists informing him those were clouds, perfectly healthy ones that bore rain when the settings were just right.
They complemented the blue skies, and did not obscure the sun save for the days when the most fiercesome of storms were to occur. The rain was pure water, not at all like the acidic rain that fell on Doom, it didn’t pollute the oceans and lakes of the planet but added to them, keeping the people of the planet refreshed. Flowers and trees did not wilt from the rain fall, instead they were nurtured by the water, a fact that had left his scientists astonished.
It had been too long since anything had grown on Doom, the planet nothing more than rocky outcropping with a few small cities spread out across it’s surface. They had tried countless times to grow things in the clay like soil, and the few things that had taken root had quickly died when it rained. It left his people starving and desperate, forcing them to abandon the world they had ruined.
A world that would be nothing more than a bad memory, Lotor determined that this new planet would not fall prey to the mistakes his people had made on Doom. His world had been a technological marvel, and once there had been cities spread as far as the eye could see. With tall building that reached way up into the sky, along with factories that churned out a thick black smoke. A smoke that began to play havoc with the atmosphere, polluting the very air they had breathed.
It was only the beginning of Doom’s downfall, the more advances they made, the more ways it began apparent to abuse the planet. Waste being dumped into the oceans, killing off the sea life there in. The sprawling cities helped destroy not only the forests, but the wildlife, many animals dying out to extinction. And with them gone, their food choices had been limited to the cattle they could raise on farms.
There hadn’t been enough viable land to support the amount of food needed to feed all the cities, and soon wars erupted on the planet. Technology played a hand here, cities using deadly weapons, destroying one another and the land around them until there was only a few left. The survivors soon banded together, becoming united under one King.
The King of Doom soon posed a challenge for his scientists, ordering them to build ships that would take the people off this dying world. It was either leave or die out, and the people of Doom were a desperate lot that fought for life, rather than cling to the dead and decaying.
It took many years for the ships to be completed, the King dying before he could see his people flee the world they had ruined. He’d never even know if they found a new world to call home, leaving the journey in the capable hands of his son. And what a journey it had been, lasting nearly two years, and countless worlds passed, advance ships flying to inspect them and returning to the main fleet to report their findings.
Always, always it had been a disappointment. The worlds not right for them, many unable to support life of any kind. It had started to look hopeless, Lotor wondering if they’d be forced to fly the galaxy for all eternity, living off recycled air and water, and what little crops they could grow inside their artificial greenhouses. That was before word came off a new planet, one that not only met but exceeded their expectations.
A world that was fertile, a world with breathable air, and clean water aplenty. A world they could start over with, a world they could be happy on. A world in which Lotor was determined his people would not repeat the mistakes of their ancestors, choosing instead to limit what sort of technology they would use. Of course some comforts of home were an absolutely must, but much, such as the chemical spewing factories, they could do without.
And so he had insisted on traveling with the advance guard to this planet, wanting to prepare it for the Drules arrival. The journey to it was not long, but to Lotor it felt like a lifetime had passed. A lifetime he had spent learning everything he could about the planet, the world fascinating him in it’s promise of hope to his people.
There was only one thing that made the planet less than ideal, his scouts reporting that it was already occupied. He shouldn’t have been surprised, after all the Drules of Doom couldn’t be the only people that existed in the galaxy. And what a strange race of people they were, such an odd contrast in looks in comparison to the Drules. Instead of the bold colors of his people, they were colored shades of white and brown, with a limited range of hair colors.
A few pictures had been brought back of these new people, this humans as the Drules had come to call them. Lotor had been surprised by the photos, seeing a race of people who were much smaller in size than the Drules. And most of the men seemed to lack their muscles, the humans proving weaker than the Drules. It was more than just a matter of physical strength, the humans lacked many things that the Drules had, being a technologically unadvanced race.
His scientists had smirked to learn the humans lacked the basic understanding of engines, lacking both ground born vehicles, and air born ships. In fact the humans seemed positively medieval, harking back to a time period the Drules had not seen in over a thousand years. Many of his people assumed this meant the humans were stupid, but Lotor was always quick to point out that for all their intelligence, they had brought nothing but ruination upon themselves. If the people of the new world had even half the technologies the Drules had, the planet might not be in any shape to sustain a new race.
Even with their lack of advancements, the humans could prove dangerous, Lotor wanting to tread carefully in forcing acceptance on the people of this new world. Which is why he had come here with only five ships, the Drules ready to try a peaceful approach in uniting with their new neighbors. Some thought him a fool, thinking they ought to just take what they want. Lotor quickly squashed down those of that opinion, wanting to do things his own way.
And now it was approaching the time to make contact with the humans, his ships descending downwards. He didn’t bother to watch, too lost in thought as he stared at the hologram of the planet. So much was riding on this first contact, their actions would determine whether there would be war, one sided though it may be, or peace between the two races.
He heard footsteps behind him, Lotor at last drawing away from his thoughts to glance at the approaching man. He was a Drule with skin several shades darker than Lotor’s own azure color. He was taller too, with jet black hair, the sides that framed his face braided with beads to keep stray strands from falling into his eyes. He was dressed smartly in a uniform, the outfit nearly identical to the one Lotor had put on.
Lotor nodded at the man, but his attention was all for the hologram, thinking the world looked more marvelous than any jewel he had ever held. “Tell me Lord Kratos…” He spoke, wishing he could run a possessive hand down the side of the hologram. “Just what do the humans call this world?”
“Arus, my King. They call it Arus.” The one named Kratos answered, and Lotor sighed.
“Arus.” He felt a shiver go through him, the Drule savoring the word. “The promised land.” Kratos was silent, waiting for acknowledgment from his King. “I find it strange….
“What is sire?” Kratos asked, glancing at the hologram for some imperfection to account for Lotor’s words.
“Strange that the people below us have no idea what’s in store for them.” He smiled as he talked, his words holding a kind of menace to them.
“They soon will know sire.” Kratos replied, and Lotor lifted a brow at that.
“We are nearly upon the castle.” Explained Kratos. “I know you wanted to be part of the landing party…”
“Is it that time already…?” Lotor mused, thinking on the people he had chosen to be the first to greet the humans. Kratos was one of them, but there was also three other men, along with his betrothed, Merla the merciless. All were people of power, all held high position of status among the Drules. All were the epitome of perfect beauty, Lotor choosing to introduce the members of his people who looked the closest to the humans in appearance. He felt the humans of Arus would accept the people of Doom if they didn’t look quite so threatening as some of the more fearsome members of his race.
Lotor knew from experience that people tended to be threatened by those that differed from them. His own people, the Drules were actually split into two smaller races, though the numbers of both had dwindled down so drastically that they banded together as one nation. Many of the lizard like beast men were aboard the ships, but until they knew how the humans would react to the human like Drules, the beast men would remain out of sight.
“Yes, sire. They all wait for you now.” It was a subtle plea on Kratos part for Lotor to hurry, the King pausing to switch off the hologram. It flickered into nothing, and even the room seemed to darken, missing the glow of the hologram.
“Well then Lord Kratos. We mustn’t keep them waiting any longer.” Already Lotor was moving, setting a brisk pace as he strolled out of the room. Footsteps behind alerted him to the fact Kratos was following, Lotor glancing outside the windows of the ship. They were a type of glass that prevented outsiders from seeing inside the ship, leaving it a mystery even as those inside were allowed to see out. He could see the courtyard of the castle, it’s people already outside, some of the pointing up at the ships.
“Tell me….what are they doing?” Lotor asked, not pausing as he walked. He had noticed that many of the people in the courtyard were on their knees, and some pressed their faces against the ground.
“I…I’m not sure.” Kratos admitted. “I think they might be praying.”
“Praying for mercy?” A woman, Merla with her bright pink hair, had joined them as they walked. Her lips were twisted into a scowl, the woman disgusted with the show the humans were doing. “They won’t get it. Not from us.”
“Now, now Merla.” Lotor chided her, finding his bride to be was too blood thirsty for his liking. “We are on a mission of peace.”
“Yes.” Kratos added, his face lacking emotion. “We are here to make friends.”
“Friends?” scoffed Merla in disbelief. “What good will friends do us here?”
“We could learn some things from them.” Lotor insisted, hearing Merla let out mocking laughter.
“Learn what? I doubt these technologically unadvanced monkeys could teach us anything!”
“Do not be so quick with your scorn Merla.” Lotor advised. “For all our advances, all our marvels of science, look where it got us. Look what it did to our world. We could learn much about how to keep a planet healthy from these humans.”
She made a sound, a tiny hmph of displeasure, her purple painted lips pursed together. He was grateful she kept quiet, the three hurrying through the ship’s corridors. As they moved, they heard an announcement over the speakers, a Drule speaking in the accented language of the humans. His pronunciations were flawless, the man lacking a nervous stutter as he spoke.
Lotor smiled in approval, knowing he and the people aboard his ships had spent the weeks journeying to Arus learning the human’s language. Not all were proficient in it, but Lotor, along with his chosen representatives were among the best at speaking the humans language.
A glance at Merla’s face, showed the pink hair woman scowling, but thankfully she kept quiet. She didn’t need to voice her thoughts for Lotor to know what she was thinking, the King long familiar with the woman’s rants on forcing the humans to adapt, to learn the Drule’s language. She didn’t care about being diplomatic, wanting to take what she felt rightfully belonged to the Drules. Only the fact that she was a woman, and his intended, kept him from silencing her the way he had done the other malcontents on board his ships.
The message to the humans continued, the announcer urging the humans to welcome them with open arms. The ship was almost ready to land on the ground, and from this close a distance he could see the humans faces, some gaping in open mouthed shock. Shock that turned to terror when the laser fired a warning shot at a random tree, causing it to wilt into a blackened husk that blew apart from the breeze.
The demonstration of the Drules’ power caused the remaining humans to drop to their knees, the courtyard filled with bowing Arusians. Lotor did not know what to make of this, and he spoke now, voice terse with tension. “Let us hurry and get out there.”
“Yes, my King.” Agreed Kratos, and Merla nodded. They turned the corridor, and covered the last few feet to the release point, a ramp already being lowered down to the ground. Several Drules were waiting, handsome men who bowed to their King.
“Are you sure about this?” asked the short haired Traad, the man having gone overboard in the amount of weapons he had strapped to his body. “It’s still not to late. We could send someone in your place my liege.”
“No. I want to meet them up close.” Lotor said, knowing they had gone over this a million times, the men arguing with him, thinking it too risky for their king to put himself in danger. Lotor had pointed out how he doubted the humans would be able to get the drop on him, not with the Drules overwhelming them in strength, and the Arusians lacking long range weapons.
“Then let us get this over with.” Merla said, not quite sighing out her impatience. “The sooner we get over these…pleasantries, the sooner we can start preparations for our own people to arrive.”
He couldn’t deny that was what they were here for, Lotor giving a brusque nod as he stepped forward. Traad and Kratos tensed up, the shorter haired Drule actually hurrying forward to flank Lotor’s right side. He didn’t dare walk in front of the King, but it was clear from the stiff manner of his movements, that he was uneasy with Lotor taking the lead.
Lotor hid a smile at Traad’s protectiveness, the king confidant the humans posed no threat to him. He hurried forward, hearing the metallic twang of footsteps as his group followed him down the ramp. Cries of astonishment greeted him when he stepped out of the shadows, Lotor pausing in the sunlight, allowing his eyes to adjust to the brightness of this world.
Merla and his four male companions surrounded him, the men drawing near to their king. They were prepared to leap to his defense at the slightest of provocation, Merla an afterthought that did not merit protection. Not yet, not until she was Lotor’s Queen. But the woman could handle herself if things turned sour, she had a reputation after all, a blood filled one that had earned her the title of being merciless.
The humans were still on their knees, some chanting out words. He realized they were praying, as if their Gods could help them now. He tried to keep the amusement off his face, Lotor gazing around, breathing deeply of the sweet air that blew through the courtyard. What a difference in quality, no longer holding the musty scent of the recycled air on the ships.
He didn’t pay much attention to the humans at first, his study of his surroundings interrupted as he realized there was one who wasn’t kneeling. It was a girl, surely younger than Merla, not yet a woman but no longer was she a child. She was the oddest thing, acting so different from the rest of the humans, eyes meeting his in a bold manner. Even stranger was the two spots of color that appeared on her pale cheeks, a faint red that even from this distance he was able to make out.
They stared at each other for a bit longer, and then she was suddenly dropping her gaze, a frown on her face as she gazed at one of the men. The man had pushed up from his prostrate position, though he still remained on his knees. His arms swept out in a wide gesture, and tears flooded down his face. He stared at Lotor and his companions with an enraptured look, something like worshipful adoration in his eyes.
“Why is he looking at us like that?” Traad asked, speaking in Drule.
“I don’t know.” Answered Merla. “But he certainly is dressed funny in comparison to the rest of these humans.”
Indeed he was, in crimson red robes that dwarfed his body. A tall hat was on his head, Lotor assuming it marked a position of elevated status. The man seemed to realize Lotor’s eyes were upon him, the King making up his mind to address him when he spoke. “Welcome oh exalted ones!”
Lotor’s eyebrows rose a fraction, the Drule having not expected such words. He was beginning to wonder if there was some sort of miscommunication, his grasp of the language not as strong as he had assumed when a woman cried out. “It is a miracle!”
“They have finally come!” Another said, and soon most of the courtyard was repeating those words, staring at the Drules with awe and happiness.
“Were they expecting us?” Lotor asked in Drule, not taking his eyes off the people in front of him. “Did a scout betray our presence sooner than intended?”
“I do not know, my King.” Kratos answered, and paused a beat. “They seem to be waiting for something from us.”
“But what?” asked Trad, his stiff manner of talking showing he was not pleased with this development.
The people were still chanting, growing more excited at the sight of the Drules. The one with the funny hat raised his voice, working to be heard over the murmur of the crowd. “For many years we have waited for you to show yourselves to us.”
“Years?” A sharp question from Merla, Lotor not so much as shrugging in reply. He knew it had only been a few months since the scouts had discovered this world, only a few weeks since they had left to report their findings to the rest of the Drules.
“We’ve always believed….we never doubted you would not come to us. Would not come and bestow your blessings upon us.” The man continued, Lotor wondering if the sight of him and his companions had addled the humans’ brains. He once again sought the eyes of the human girl, seeing a look of shock on her face. It was different from the looks the others gave him, Lotor beginning to think she was the only one who was capable of clear headed functioning.
“Come!” The man with the funny hat said, gesturing the Drules to step forward. “Step forth and be among your children, your devoted worshippers. Allow us to welcome you in a way that befits Gods of your divine status!”
“Gods?!” Merla seized upon the word, sounding amused. “Is that what they think we are?!”
“How very interesting.” Lotor did not so much as blink in reaction, still certain they were misunderstanding the language. The humans had so many words, almost as many as the Drules had, and even with their intelligence, they surely had not been able to grasp the meaning of each and every one.
“We await your command.” Continued the man, seeming unbothered by the Drules holding a private conversation.
“Please…” A woman called out. “Let us serve you.”
“I think I am going to like it here.” Merla decided, the woman always fond of being catered to.
“Let us not make any hasty judgments.” Kratos advised, the humans of Arus all beginning to call out, tones begging as they asked to serve their Gods.
“Be careful what you say and do.” Lotor told them, and he stepped forward. The man in the strange hat struggled to his feet, it was clear he had appointed himself the spokesman of the humans.
“Allow me to be your guide…” He was saying, clasping his hands before his protruding belly. “Your contact amongst your lowly servants.” He was left to gape as Lotor walked past him, the man’s jaw dropping in shock. He turned to watch the Drules’ procession through the crowd of kneeling humans, sputtering impotently at being ignored.
Those that kneeled seemed torn between staring and looking away, the people settling for lowering their eyes. None of them were what Lotor wanted, what he needed, the King seeking out the girl who remained standing. She seemed to be the only one with any amount of sense, able to meet his eyes without fear. It endeared her to him, Lotor taking the time to sweep his gaze down her body, truly seeing her for the first time.
Her human differences were obvious, her skin that odd pale color the Drules had decided was white. She was dressed in a gown of pink, the color a more subdued shade than Merla’s own hair. The human’s hair was like none he had ever seen, the sunlight shining down on it, making an already shining color even more brilliant. It was like spun gold, and Lotor was surprised when he realized his fingers itched to run through it.
He ignored that impulse, instead focusing on her eyes, their color a blazing blue. A blue that reminded him of the oceans of this planet, widening in shock as the girl realized he was approaching her. To her credit she did not back up, lifting her chin to stand taller as she waited for him to reach her. The people around them were murmuring, but did not interfere, waiting to see what the Drules would do.
“Hello.” He greeted her, Lotor stopping just inches from her. She was so small, the word petite coming to mind as he gazed downwards. The top of her head would barely clear the top of his chest, Lotor wondering if all human women were as small as her.
She blinked at his greeting, the surprise showing in her eyes. “He…hello!” She said back, and paused for a heart beat. “Are you really Gods?”
Lotor had to pause just as long as she did, carefully weighing out the options in his mind. He wasn’t sure what would happen, if the humans would turn hostile once denied their Gods. But he wasn’t sure if lying to them would be any better, Lotor wanting to manage peace between them if it was at all possible. “It depends.” He said at last, and her rose colored lips parted.
“On what your definition of Gods are.” Lotor answered.
“You came from the sky!” She exclaimed, and gestured wildly at the ships still hovering about over the castle. Their engines had been silence, the ships floating in place on drafts of wind. “You control those great beasts! You came out of their bellies…”
“Beasts?” Again that amusement flickered through him, Lotor fighting a smile. “Those are not beasts. They are ships.”
“Ships float on water not air!” She retorted. “Ships do not shoot fire that can turn a tree into ashes in a matter of seconds. You’ve done things no mortals could ever do!”
“Well then…” Now he did smile, having come to a decision. “By the reasons you listed, then yes. We are Gods.” She blinked rapidly, Lotor not understanding when tears came to her eyes. She seemed to sway on her feet, an instant before she dropped to her knees, staring up at him in awe. Lotor found he very much like the sight of this girl on her knees, the King smiling down at her.