Walking forward, with his head held high, and his eyes burning with anger, Lotor let not one ounce of his uncertainty show. His outward appearance reeked of confidence, Lotor boldly meeting the eyes of any who turned his way. Not that there was many, this late at night the ship’s corridors were all but empty, lending a ghostly air to their surroundings.
The few Drules who had happened by, had shown their surprise, guilt wavering in their eyes as they hurriedly looked away from their King and his jailers. Lotor tried to burn the memory of these people into his mind, vowing to see to retribution when—if he got out of this predicament. A sidelong glance showed Carp walking besides him, Allura dangling in place across the Drule’s shoulder. She had propped herself up as best she could, one hand holding her hair out of her face as she stared wide eyed in shock at their surroundings.
He had time, but Lotor did not spare much thought to what Allura was thinking of the ship, knowing she was surely amazed by what little marvels she had caught glimpses of. He was too busy trying not to growl out his rage, the guard behind him taking care to keep his hand on Lotor’s uninjured shoulder, fingers tightening in warning every time he sensed a hesitation in the King’s walk.
His shoulder’s sleeve had grown damp with his blood, but the pain had faded to a dull ache. He needed to see to the damage, needed to stop the flow of blood before he grew faint from the loss of it. Lotor bore little hope that they were bringing him to the ship’s infirmary, they were too deep inside it, brought down to the lowest level of the ship. There was few things of worth to be found this far below, Lotor knowing it was here where things were brought to be forgotten.
Sure enough, they came to a room, Carp hefting Allura to a better position, before producing keys out of his pocket. A rustle of the keys, the Drule selecting the right one, and then the click of an opening door was heard. Carp then strode inside, and Lotor with no choice but to follow, entered. It was musky in here, and the contents of the room seemed covered with a thin layer of dust.
It was predominately crates, their contents a mystery, box after box stacked up on top of each other. A blanket laid in the corner, another covering some misshapen piece of furniture. It was in fact a storage room, but not one devoted to the foods and goods that were precious to the Drules’ way of life. It was stuff that had been abandoned, items no longer of value or of use to it’s owners. Discarded, it was worse than being destroyed, the items were simply forgotten about.
Lotor was determined he and Allura would not suffer a similar fate, the King narrowing his eyes as Carp unceremoniously dumped Allura onto the floor. She lay where he dropped her, a heap of cloak and multi layers of skirt, the girl seeming too frightened to even breathe properly.
“You’ve made a big mistake.” Lotor told him, and Carp turned to smirk at him. “You have to realize that!”
“Oh?” Laughter seemed to be in the Drule’s voice, Carp crooking an eyebrow at him. “And which mistake is that? I’ve made so many tonight, according to you!” The Drule was right, his list of crimes were many, but Lotor calmly bit out a response.
“Siding with Merla. She won’t get away with this mad scheme of hers. I will not be forgotten like some item in this room, people will notice I am missing!”
“Easy enough to take care of…” Carp said, but his voice lost some of it’s confidant airs.
“Is that uncertainty I hear in your voice, Carp?” Lotor asked, unable to resist flashing a mocking smile of his own. “You know I am right. My inner circle alone will raise questions, questions that demand answers.”
“Kratos and the rest of your comrades will be busy.” Carp told him, crossing his arms over his chest.
“By whose order?!” demanded Lotor.
“Why…” A wide grin, all his sharp teeth flashing in that smile. “Yours.”
“Mine?!” A disbelieving Lotor asked, as Carp gave a vigorous nod of his head.
“You’ve split them up. Sent them to the other ships, ordered them to help maintain peace between the rabble rousers. Such a pity, your highness….but the peasants won’t stop their fighting long enough for the Lords to notice anything is amiss.”
His glare narrowed even further, Lotor’s eyes practically sparking with rage. “That infighting….it was planned, wasn’t it?” Carp nodded again, and Lotor cursed, pleased Allura couldn’t understand his foul language. “You staged those brawls…”
“Not all. Not in the beginning.” Carp admitted. “At first it was just the work of a few dissatisfied Drules…but Merla and Yurak soon saw to the advantage of using them for their purpose.”
“And just what is their purpose?!” Lotor demanded, trying to goad Carp into admitting more than he should.
“Right now?” Carp shrugged. “I cannot say…although I suspect Merla will have harsh words for Yurak for forcing her hand sooner than she anticipated.” Lotor’s sudden smirk had Carp glaring. “What are you grinning about?!”
If possible, Lotor’s smirk became even more self satisfied, the King speaking. “If Merla wasn’t prepared to act tonight, than that means her little plan won’t be without problems. Even under the best of circumstances, it is difficult to keep from making mistakes. Heh…your plan is in danger Carp…it won’t be long before it unravels completely. I suggest you save yourself a lot of pain and misery by siding with me.”
“With you?!” Carp sneered, disgust and disbelief evident in his tone. “You who have shown more fondness towards the humans than to my own kind? You who would be content to hide us away on the ships, while your prettier brethren roam free on Arus? I think not!”
“You think that Merla’s way will allow the Drules to mingle with the humans?! She’ll botch things even further than tonight’s happenings!”
“The humans won’t be a problem….not for long at any rate.” Carp’s cold look made Lotor go still, the King wondering just what the Drule was implying.
“What do you intend to do?” Lotor demanded, words coming out harsher with his urgency.
“I think you should worry about yourself and the princess, rather than the dreck that lives on this planet.” Carp walked over to Allura, the girl lifting her head, a fine tremble shaking her body. He grinned down at her, but the expression was full of animosity, Allura shrinking back as Carp reached for her. “They die so easily…” The Drule commented, tone casual as he snagged hold of Allura’s hair. “Such care must be shown in their handling…” A cruel jerk on Allura’s hair, the Drule drawing her up to her knees. “Far too easily broken, both in body and in mind. Just look at how frightened this one is….she practically chokes on her fear..”
“Let her go!” Lotor growled, and was already taking a step forward, even as the guard behind him grabbed hold of both his arms. It didn’t stop Lotor, the King all but dragging his captor with him as he approached Carp.
“Oh don’t worry your highness…” Mocking laughter followed the words, Carp trailing fingers down the side of Allura’s face, even as his other hand tightened it’s grip on
her hair. “We won’t do any permanent damage to the princess. Not so long as you both behave…”
Lotor was incensed to see Carp’s intimate caress of Allura’s cheek, the king struggling forward though he did not know what he could do with both hands cuffed behind his back.
“Please…” Allura whispered, and Carp pressed a claw into her cheek, drawing a thin trickle of blood. “Please…” She repeated, voice soft and laced with fear.
“I wonder if all humans beg as sweetly as this one does.” Mused Carp, looking back at Lotor. “I do so look forward to finding out.” As rough as before, he suddenly shoved Allura away from him, the girl toppling over backwards to the floor.
“Carp!” Lotor was shocked by how incensed he grew at the Drule’s mishandling of the princess, Lotor’s muscles straining as though he would break free of his manacles. They held fast, the guard and Carp laughing at Lotor’s attempts to get free. “Damn you, you will pay. You ALL will pay!”
“And that is why I would never side with you, King Lotor!” sneered Carp. “You’re too quick to punish someone for a little harmless fun.”
“The events of tonight have hardly been harmless!” Lotor hissed. “Two humans are dead, and even more are terrified.” He was displeased by the shrug of Carp’s shoulders, the man moving away from Allura.
“I’ve wasted enough time on you.” Carp announced, striding past Lotor. “Do try to enjoy the time you have left on this mortal plane.” A gesture from Carp had the guard releasing his grip on Lotor, the King whirling around to track the two Drule’s movements. They were already heading to the room’s exit, and it was clear from the way they were acting they had no intention of freeing Lotor’s hands.
A wordless growl of fury erupted from Lotor’s throat, the King struggling with his manacles once more. Carp didn’t turn, did not even glance Lotor’s way, not until Allura cried out. “Wait!”
“The little mouse has found her voice.” An amused Carp said. He looked at the girl, who had sat up, her skirts still spread around her in rumpled disarray.
“Please…” Allura surprised all present with her next words, her tone turning urgent. “He needs a doctor. ” She was gesturing at Lotor, lookign supremely upset at his red soaked sleeve.
“That he does.” Agreed Carp, switching to Arusian. “But Merla merely said to secure you two. She said nothing about seeing to any injuries.” He finished off his statement with a cruel laugh, following the guard out of the room, ignoring Allura’s pleading cries. She broke off with a sob at the sound of the door being slammed shut, the lock clicking into place.
“How cruel.” Allura whispered, and Lotor nodded.
“Not all my people are kind.” He sighed, and allowed his weary body to at last collapse on the floor, Lotor landing on his knees. Allura gasped at his sudden change in position, and he heard the rustle of her skirts as she hurried to crawl towards him.
“Will you be okay?”
He told himself he shouldn’t be surprised by her concern, she was simply too sweet a girl to allow anyone to suffer needlessly around her. Even when she should have been in shock, and cowering in fear of the horrors she had born witness to this night. “I’ll be fine.” Lotor said, hoping to reassure her with his words.
“But you’ve bled so much!” Allura protested, and now her eyes were staring at his sleeve.
“A little blood loss won’t keep me down for long.” Lotor retorted, and Allura shook her head, her wild hair bouncing about her face.
“It looks like more than a little to me!” He saw her bite her lower lip, her white teeth stark against the pale rose color. “You need to be treated…” She seemed to be coming to a decision, her head giving a little nod as though she agreed with some silent thought.
“Allura?” He didn’t quite gasp when her trembling hands reached towards his shirt, Lotor staring in wide eyed surprise at the girl. Pale spots of pink appeared on her cheeks, the girl not meeting his eyes as she began unbuttoning his shirt. Her shaking seemed to increase, Lotor could see how she struggled to unfasten each button. When at last the shirt was open completely, Allura dared risk a look at his chest.
A breathy sound of appreciation followed, her blush deepening as she stared at him. He couldn’t help but feel flattered, noting that Allura liked what she saw, the girl growing bolder to actually press a hand to his chest. It was his turn to breathe faster, Lotor feeling electrified by her simple touch on his skin. He didn’t know what she was thinking, but the girl’s admiration quickly evaporated as she remembered the reason for undressing him.
“Oh Lotor!” She made a distressed face, peeling back his sleeves, the shirt becoming tangled down around his manacles. Lotor glanced at his shoulder, and hid a grimace, seeing the far deeper than expected wound that dug into his skin.
“It’s nothing.” He lied, not wanting to further upset her. “It’s just a flesh wound. I’ll be fine.”
“You’re lucky you haven’t passed out from blood loss yet!” Allura exclaimed, her eyes holding fierce admonishment. “We need to stop the bleeding!”
“Put some pressure on it.” Lotor advised her. “If we can tie something tight across it, that should be enough….for now.” Allura was already shrugging out of her cloak, her hands no longer shaking as badly as they had been. For one-second she hesitated, fingers reaching for the outer layer skirt of her gown. “It took many months and a number of people to make this dress…” She whispered sadly.
“What?” Lotor asked, barely able to hear her comment.
“It’s nothing.” With a determined air about her, she began forcing the skirt to tear, ripping off long pieces of it, enough to make a hasty construed tourniquet. Her hands
grew bloody as she began winding the make shift bandages around his injured shoulder, Lotor growling out a command.
Allura nodded, and did as he asked, and though the first few strips of her dress turned red from the blood, soon the top most layers retained their blood free state. They both breathed sighs of relief, Lotor not aware he had been holding his breath while she tended to him. Allura used the remaining strips of her dress to try and clean up his
arm, but some of the blood was already dried into his skin, refusing to be budged no matter how much she tried.
He studied her as she worked, Allura keeping her eyes lowered to his arm. This close he was aware of her personal scent, the flowery perfume that made him think of wild flowers after a rainstorm. He realized he was leaning into her, as though craving more of her scent and her soft touch on his arm. She wasn’t looking at his face, but even with her eyes lowered, he could see the white had ceased to overwhelm the blue of her eyes. She was no longer as terrified as she had been, nor had she been reduced to tears over their predicament.
“You’re staring.” She murmured, the blush of her cheeks deepening as she continued to fuss over him. She gave one last useless rub of his skin, flakes of dried blood being disrupted, then dropped her hands.
Lotor realized he was, not looking away, not even when Allura slowly lifted her gaze to lock eyes with him. “I’m trying to figure you out.”
“Oh?” Just a word, but it held so much question in that sound of hers.
“So much happened tonight. So much you’ve had no way of understanding…” Lotor sighed then, his breath causing her hair to rustle.
“Then explain it to me.” Allura urged him, and now he looked away from her.
“Where to begin….” Lotor muttered, and was shocked when Allura reached out to touch his face. Her grip was firm, but no less gentle than it had been these past few minutes, Allura urging Lotor to turn and look at her.
“Start…at the beginning. Lotor, just who are those people with Merla? Why is the Goddess allying herself with demons?”
“Merla is no Goddess!” Lotor snapped, vehement anger rising at the mention of his betraying bride’s name. ~Former bride.~ He quickly corrected himself, even as Allura fixed him with wide eyes.
“Not a Goddess? Then…then what is she?”
Even though using such language in the presence of the princess burnt him with shame, Lotor could not keep himself from blurting out what he really thought of Merla. “A traitorous bitch!” Allura just stared, and this time he sighed, some of his angry fire leaving him. “Forgive me, but it is the truth I speak. She’s nothing but a viper, the lowest of the low. I was a fool to turn a blind eye for this long.”
Puzzlement was in Allura’s expression, the girl not understanding everything he alluded to. “She’s vicious…she’s cruel, never having a kind word for anyone save herself. Her behavior in the past towards others, both nobles and the servants have been reprehensible, the act of a cold, selfish woman.” He snorted then, shaking his head, his hair falling across his face. He was jerking on his restraints before he could stop himself, wanting to angrily brush aside that hair.
Allura did it for him, Lotor unable to calm, even as her touch. The princess tucked the loose strands of his hair behind his ears, her fingers seeming to linger in place longer than was appropriate.
“She’s no Goddess, benevolent or otherwise.” Lotor finished, Allura dropping her hands down towards his shirt, pulling it back up his arms.
“But…” Hesitation in her speech, Allura began fastening the buttons of his shirt, risking only a glance at his face.
“But nothing!” Bitter, he all but barked out his anger at Merla to the princess, seeing her flinch back. “She’s no more divine than I…than ANY of us.” That last statement was cause for Allura to let go of his shirt, the buttons only halfway fastened.
“Not divine?” Her brow furrowed, Allura looking at him with an expression he could not quite read.
“I’m sorry…we’ve lied to you…I’ve lied to you.” Lotor refused to look away, waiting for the accusations to come from Allura. “We…were so…”
“You did miracles.” Allura interrupted him, tone urgent, eyes looking like she was desperate to keep believing he was a God. “You healed the sick! You’ve come from the sky. You were going to triple our food production with those houses of yours!”
“Those are all easily explained…” Lotor began, but Allura cut him off once more.
“Don’t tell me these are not the acts of a race that is different from ours, that is superior to ours!”
“Different yes….superior?” He snorted in disgust, shaking his head. “Hardly. Allura, we are neither Gods nor demons, though I bet right now you and your people that were present at the temple are ready to damn us all.”
“Oh no!” Allura protested, but he ignored her exclamation.
“I know what it seems like…” continued Lotor. “Doing those things…to a race of people that aren’t as advanced as the Drules, surely it does seem like the act of
Gods. But it’s not!”
“Demons then?” He couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, Lotor’s expression remaining serious.
“Some of my people may look like monsters, but even the worse behaved Drule is not a demon.”
“Then how?!” demanded Allura, sitting back on her knees. “How were you capable of doing such wondrous things?!”
She frowned, repeating the word with a puzzled tilt of her head. “Science?”
He paused, trying to figure out how to explain the concept to a mind that had yet to grasp hold of all it could be capable of. “It’s a kind of art…a study of truths…we’ve had thousands of years to perfect our science, to learn how to do things, to make things. The knowledge once gained, has been passed down for generations, studied by many, studied and improved upon, Such knowledge is available to any who ask, we’ve whole schools devoted to learning.”
Allura still looked like she didn’t understand, Lotor floundering about as he tried to explain. “Science itself has much to do with learning things, with finding out about the world that surrounds us, and the patterns that repeat. To learn the facts and laws of the universe, and use those to improve our lives. Although…my people learned to late that not all things we could use science for would be beneficial to our long term survival.”
Allura looked even more confused, her eyes glazing over at his jumbled explanation. “It’s not just science….called it technology. We use the knowledge obtained through science, along with our engineering techniques to create more things….it’s a melding of the natural world with the things we Drules have been able to make.”
“Magic.” Allura decided, and Lotor sighed.
“It’s not magic…not exactly….but it might be easier to think of it that way for now.” He barely registered the rueful smile that crossed his lips. “I’m afraid many of my people take for granted the things that we have. A lot of us, myself included do not how all our technology works, we simply accept that it does, and use it day to day. If it breaks down, we have people whose job is specialized to the fixing of our gadgets.”
“How….how did you learn this science?” Allura asked, and Lotor gave a careless shrug.
“It’s the benefit of centuries of knowledge. I don’t doubt that your people would be capable of developing your own science and technology given time. Your current state of affairs is much like the dark ages of Doom, you’ve got the groundwork laid out in some areas, such as knowing certain herbs that can be used as medicine. ”
“Doom?” Allura questioned, Lotor nodding.
“Doom is our world. Our former home.” He couldn’t keep his pain off his face at the thought of his former world, Lotor sighing. “It’s a planet, a bit like Arus in shape and the ability to support life…..but…we ruined it.”
“Ruined it how?” Allura asked.
“With war, and weapons…with our carelessness.” Lotor tried not to think on how bad they had devastated the planet, not wanting to frighten Allura with such stories. “We didn’t care for the planet, didn’t think about it as we mindlessly went about our business. Not until it was too late…”
“Nothing would grow on Doom, nothing would take root for long…and if it did, the rains destroyed it fast enough. Without food to eat, our animals began dying, and what didn’t die, we hunted to extinction. But that was just one of the errors we made….” He spied her shiver, Allura looking distressed. “We’ve traveled a long time, past hundreds of worlds, all lifeless and unsuitable to our needs. And then we found your world…..our last hope, our only hope after years of flying among the stars. We’re determined not to make the same mistakes here…..it’s why I wanted so badly to make a treaty with your father….I…I shouldn’t have deceived him…deceived you all.”
“My father never believed you were Gods.” Allura’s words had Lotor nodding, the King adding the following.
“He is a wise man.”
“Why couldn’t you have told us the truth from the start?” Allura wondered, and Lotor shrugged.
“I wanted to. I meant to. I didn’t put much stock into labels at first….nor did I realize how desperate your people were to believe in us.” He sagged in his place, the epitome of dejection. “I’ve surely botched it for everyone involved.”
“I think if anyone has ruined your people’s chances, it will be the Go—the lady Merla.” Allura said. “Just what is she up to, and who were those….those men with her?”
“I don’t quite know what she plays at.” Lotor admitted. “At least as far as your people are concerned.” He frowned then, remembering Merla’s words, how mad she sounded as she talked about witnesses and the need to kill them all.
“She wanted to kill us…” Allura deducted. “But you stopped her, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” He nodded then. “The people at Pelphine Temple, their good behavior is held hostage to your safety. They won’t be able to act, won’t be able to tell your father
what has happened….not without great risk to you.”
She actually paled at that, Lotor wishing he could place a comforting hand on her shoulder. “My father will know I am missing. He won’t stand for it, no matter what lies Merla tells him!” Lotor kept quiet about the fact that there was very little Alfor could do to get them off the ships. “And your people! Won’t they wonder what happened to you?”
“They should.” Lotor agreed. “Merla will be busy trying to maintain control. As much as she wants to be Queen, she can’t gain the crown without tying herself to me. Something I do not intend to allow to happen.” A wry smile then. “Fear not Allura, Merla won’t be killing me anytime soon. Not if she doesn’t want to fight all the nobles clamoring for a chance at my crown.”
“I sense a but coming about.” Allura murmured, and Lotor nodded.
“We’re not on the main ship.” Lotor had been displeased when they had been brought onboard the Ravager, knowing he was being isolated away from any help that
may have come from the flag ship. The few faces they had spied in the hall had all been unfamiliar to Lotor, people surely picked for their allegiance to Merla.
“Does that matter?”
Maybe. Maybe not.” Lotor shrugged, then regretted it as he felt his shoulder protest the action. Allura noticed his wince, the girl voicing her concern.
“Don’t strain yourself! Too much movement, and you may loosen the bandages!”
“You make a good nurse.” Lotor praised her, not failing to notice the way she blushed at that.
“Hardly.” Allura replied, shaking her head no to his voiced insistence. “Lotor? What do we do now?”
“Now? I suggest we get some sleep while we can.” Lotor said, inching over to a crate, so that he could rest his back against it. Allura watched him for a few moments, then gathered her cloak off the floor. She came closer to him, fingers playing nervously with the cloak before she folded it up to form a make shift pillow. The princess actually laid down next to him, her sleep heavy eyes fighting to remain open. “Don’t worry Allura. I’ll stay up and keep watch while you sleep.”
“Thank you.” So soft was her response that he strained to hear it, Lotor watching as Allura slowly drifted off into slumber.