It took quite a bit of coaxing for Allura to calm down enough to retrieve the bolt cutters from one of the crates, Lotor showing not one iota of impatience towards her. Not even when she hesitated, her path putting her in reach of Carp’s body, Allura starting to shake violently. He didn’t shout at her to hurry, instead Lotor continuing to speak to her in a soft, soothing tone, the words meant to offer her some kind of comfort as well as urge her past the body.
“He’s dead Allura…you see all that blood? There’s no way he could have survived. He won’t be able to hurt you, so just…move. Just walk past him, and don’t even look at him.”
She took a hesitant step forward, and he risked a smile, practically cooing to her. “That’s it Allura. Just one step after another, take your time. There’s no need to rush if you don’t want too.”
She hadn’t yet to say anything back to him, her weeping had proved wordless, just great, gasping sobs as she clung to Lotor’s shirt. He worried about her silence, Lotor knowing that all that had happened, the torture and attempted rape and then subsequent murder, was enough to shock just about anyone into silence. But for a fragile girl like Allura, one he felt certain had never hurt anyone, let alone killed a man, the trauma had done it’s damage.
Lotor cursed Carp in his mind, damning his soul, and wishing he had been the one to kill the man. Maybe then Allura wouldn’t be such a wreck, needing his constant talking to get her to do anything besides cry.
“Do you remember which crate the bolt cutters are in?” He asked her in that same soothing tone. Wordlessly, she shook her head, not even making an attempt to brush back her tears. “It’s in the third one, the one on top.” He reminded her, and she shuffled closer to it. “Do you see it Allura? I left it on top of the pile of parts…” She dug her hands into the box, rooting through the objects until at last she grabbed hold of the bolt cutters.
“That’s it.” He nodded in approval, trying not to sound too excited as he praised her. “You did good Allura. Now I need you to come back to me. Can you do that?” Immediately her gaze went to seek out Carp’s body, and Lotor quickly let out a protest. ‘No, don’t! Don’t even look at him. He’s past our consideration, he doesn’t deserve a second thought.”
She hesitated, but at least Allura stopped herself from looking at the body. Lotor offered her a small smile, imploring her with both words and expression to come to him. She did that slow shuffle of walk, bolt cutters gripped firmly in her hands. “Good Allura…now I need to just ask you to do one more thing.” He said when she was standing before him. “I need you to use those bolt cutters to cut away my manacles…and then you can rest.”
A slow nod of her head, Allura moving to kneel behind him. He tensed up, waiting for his restraints to be cut away. “Just clamp them down on the metal between my wrists…just like so…” He felt she needed constant direction in order to keep functioning, Lotor detailing what she must do every step of the way. “That’s it, now squeeze.” He felt the bolt cutters clamp down on the metal, a slight resistance maintaining before they broke apart.
The instant his shackles were severed, he turned, catching Allura in his arms. He pulled her unresisting form down onto his lap, and cradled her against his chest. “Shh…” He whispered, attempting to soothe her as she began to cry loudly. “It’s okay Allura. You’re okay.” Lotor petted her hair as he spoke, keeping her locked into a tight embrace as he began to rock them back and forth in place.
His shirt grew damp, Allura sniffling and crying into the fabric, her body trembling more than he ever thought possible. For a small eternity they just sat there, Lotor doing his best to comfort Allura. “You’re such a brave girl…” He crooned to her, and she shifted, lifting her head to look up at him. Wet blue eyes stared up at him, the look in them heart breaking.
“Such a brave girl..” He repeated, using his fingers to brush away some of her tears. Was it his imagination, or was her shaking lessening in intensity? “Brave and strong, resourceful and determined.”
“I….” A hiccup of sound escaped her, Allura seeming to choke on her words. He waited patiently for her to gain enough composure to speak, Lotor continuing to attempt to pet her into relaxing against him. “I couldn’t let him hurt you…”
Her admittance had his eye brows raising, Lotor taken aback by her concern for him. After all she had been through he expected her to be self absorbed, consumed with fears over what had happened, and what Carp had almost succeeded in doing to her. “Me…?”
“Yes.” Sniffled Allura, speaking in a halting, hesitating way. Her voice held distressed emotion to it, she was still so shaken by what had happened. “I couldn’t let him kill you!”
He didn’t think Carp would have killed him, just beat him unconscious, but he knew Allura didn’t need to know that. Nor did she need to know that once Lotor was unconscious, the evil Drule would have most likely have finished her rape. “Thank you doesn’t seem like enough…” Lotor said out loud, watching Allura try to control her weeping. “Not after the sacrifice you made…”
“Killing a man.” He explained. “I wish you hadn’t have had to get your hands dirty. I wish…….I wish I could have been able to protect you.” Some of his helplessness returned, Lotor remembering how he had felt watching Allura get abused.
“But you couldn’t!” She gasped, realizing how that must sound. “Your hands were tied, literally. There was no way for you to be able to stop him in the moment…” Her tears fell faster, Allura leaning in to cling closer to him. “You saw what happened when you tried to interfere with him!”
“I’d do it again.” Lotor said seriously, Allura blinking in surprise at him. “I’d endure any amount of beating if it meant distracting him from abusing you.” Allura was silent, trying to process these thoughts he had given her. At last she frowned, tears still flowing, and asked him point blank why. “Why?” he repeated, and she nodded, eyes staring at him urgently.
He knew what the easiest answer would be to give her. That it was the right thing to do. But he knew that would be a lie, Lotor realizing there wasn’t that many people, be they human or Drule that he would gladly endure another beating for. There was just something about Allura, some sort of feeling that called to his protective instincts.
He realized he had feelings for her, feelings that went beyond a simple attraction. Lotor wasn’t sure when it had happened, if it had taken root with their simple flirtations, or during the time they had spent trapped together. It may have even developed when he realized just how brave she was, seeing her attack Carp with the raw desire to stop the Drule from harming Lotor any further.
“Lotor?” Still that urgent look, Allura waiting for his answer.
“I don’t ever want to see you hurt again.” He said, tightening his arms around her. With dread he realized there was a good chance she would be hurt, and all because of her association with him. Others would come, and they might try to use Allura to break him, get him to give in to their schemes. He was shocked to realize he’d give them what they wanted, anything to avoid further trauma happening to the girl in his arms.
“Damn it.” He muttered under his breath, but she was so close she heard him. “This complicates things.” Allura didn’t look like she understood, Lotor sighing. A huge part of him had never wanted to fall in love with this girl, first because of his engagement to Merla, and when that fell through, and he realized just how evil minded his former fiancee was, he had tried to keep control of his heart to avoid causing pain to them both when the Drules were forced to depart this world.
“I like you Allura.” Lotor told her, watching as her eyes widened. It wasn’t enough to get her tears to stop, but at least her sobbing was under control. “I like you a lot.” Tenderly, he leaned in to kiss her forehead, then watched as she blinked bemusedly at him.
“Was that a love confession?” She asked, bold as can be, and he laughed.
“It was…something. Let’s leave it at that for now.” Lotor told her, but saw she didn’t want to drop it.
“Allura, are you feeling better?” He asked, noticing some of the tension in her body had left. She wasn’t completely relaxed, but her trembling was almost nonexistent, and her tears were drying. Allura appeared to think about his question, than gave a slow nod. “Good. As much as I would like to continue holding you….I have to do something.”
“You’re going to work on the computer again, aren”t you?” She actually sighed then, seeming exasperated.
“Eventually yes.” He admitted, and she shifted out of his arms. She actually seemed bothered by his answer, and Lotor moved to catch her in his arms again. “I have to get a message out.” He told her, trying to make her understand. “We can’t stay here any longer. Who knows what else they will try to do to get me to marry Merla.”
Allura sighed then, shoulders sagging. “I understand.”
“Now, do something for me.” He urged, keeping her back to Carp’s body. “I want you to just sit here and don’t look over at the body. No matter what, don’t look until I say so.”
“That won’t be a problem.” She said, and he hugged her.
“Good girl.” He was reluctant to leave her side, but he had to deal with Carp’s body. There was no telling how long they’d be alone, how long before their jailors got suspicious of Carp’s silence.
Stalking over to the body, he grimaced, eyeing the wide pool of blood all around it. It seemed he had bled out his weight in blood, and there was numerous puncture wounds all over his back, shirt ripped open wherever the blade had been driven into. With a look of distaste on his face, Lotor touched Carp’s body, rolling the Drule onto his back. Sightless eyes stared up at him, Carp still looking stunned at having been killed by Allura.
Lotor did not so much as make a holy symbol over the body, instead beginning to root through his pockets, and the pouches on Carp’s belt. He found a few protein bars, wrapped in thick foil coverings. His mouth practically watered to see them, Lotor pocketing the bars for later. Right now he was more intent on locating a communicator, and he found one in a belt pouch.
He didn’t smile, not yet ready to revel in his findings. Instead he switched it on, and began tapping on the pad, keying in the coordinates to Kratos’ personal communicator. Almost holding his breath, Lotor pushed the send button. And got nothing, his hopes dashed as the communicator asked for a password.
“Worthless!” Lotor shouted, and slammed the communicator onto the floor. It bounced several times, just missing the blood puddle. Parts came undone, Lotor spying the power cell, and it’s wires. And with it, a light switched on in his head, Lotor realizing he could use these parts to help fix the computer.
“Lotor?” Allura had jumped at his shout, but obeyed his request not to turn towards the body.
“It’s nothing, I overreacted.” Lotor said, and knelt down to pick up the parts. He pocketed what he needed, and then put the communicator back together again, shoving it into a pouch on the belt. If they were lucky, no one would think to look inside the communicator, the stolen parts going unnoticed.
Moving over to the area by the crates that they had designated as their sleeping spot, he retrieved the spare blanket, bringing it over to cover Carp’s body. Only then did he allow Allura to turn, and just as he had worried, she immediately looked towards the body’s resting spot. She seemed relieved that it was covered, even if not all the blood was hidden from sight.
Smiling at her, he walked towards her, Allura stepping closer to go into his arms. Lotor found himself stroking her long hair, whispering their good fortune in her ear. “I was able to salvage some parts from Carp’s communicator.”
“That’s a small device, one most of us carry and use to talk to other people. The box sends signals to another box set to receive the transmission.” He explained, and she cocked her head to the side.
“So it’s like a computer?”
“Sorta, but more limited. Our computers can contact other computers, even the ships that are several hundred light years away. The communicators have a much shorter range. I’d have used it to contact Kratos, but damn it, Carp has a password on his, barring anyone from using it that doesn’t know the key sequence. But!” He grinned at her, noting how confused she looked. “I took some things from inside the communicator, things I believe will be able to help me get the computer up and running.”
“That’s…that’s wonderful.” Allura said, and he hugged her, practically dancing in place with her.
“It is!” He tried to calm down, glancing at the door once more. “I don’t know how much time we have until someone comes to check in on us. I need to get the parts in place, the sooner the better.”
“I understand.” She told him, and he hugged her once more.
“I’m sorry for everything that’s happened. I’ll find a way to make it up to you, I promise.”
“Just….just get us out of here!” She ordered. “Get the message to your allies so we can get away from Merla and her awful friends.”
“I will Allura.” Lotor told her, releasing his hold on her. “If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll get you to safety.” She was still too upset to smile, but she nodded, somewhat relaxed by his words. Lotor himself wished he could borrow some of that ease, the King knowing that getting out of this room would be only the first step in resolving things. He didn’t even know if there would be safe place for Allura to return to, didn’t know what state her kingdom was in. Lotor hoped and prayed that the things Merla and her lackeys said was just talk, but he couldn’t keep the fear from manifesting that things were going very wrong down on Arus.