Ryder’s words were angry, holding a hostile chastisement to them. It left Allura shocked, her mouth droping open as she watched the Drule with the blue streaked hair stalk away. Even worse, her cheeks began to burn, Allura finding some humiliation in the exchange she had just shared with the angry Drule. She didn’t like feeling this way, didn’t like the uncertainty his words had brought to her.
She might have stood in the corridor outside the recreational area for hours yet, but then a voice came from behind her, clearing his throat. Allura’s cheeks reddened even further, the girl realizing Vorlac had been standing there all this time. She went instantly on the defensive, turning to look at her escort. “I don’t think I know everything…” His expression was cool, almost disdainful. It riled her upset further, Allura turning insistent. “I don’t. Least of all about you Drules…”
“Oh?” Vorlac gestured for her to walk with him, the man intent on leading her presumedly to Lotor’s cabin. “Then what is the reason behind so narrow a view that you hold?”
“I’m sure you can guess.” Allura told him. “It’s this war between our worlds. It’s given me reason to be…mistrustful.”
“Princess, you’re more than just mistrustful.” Vorlac pointed out. “You’re downright fearful. Dare I even say it, you hate us. You hate a whole race based on the actions of a few. And that isn’t right…”
“Is it any more right what you Drules have done to Arus?” Allura demanded. “What you Drules continue to do to my people?!”
“First of all, you have got to stop lumping us all in as the ones attacking your world.” Vorlac snapped, body turning stiff. “Not all of us have fought in the military. Many of us have never been to Arus…many of us never will go to that world…”
“But you reap the benefits of Doom’s conquests! It’s not just Arus who suffers! There are other worlds who also have fallen victim to the Drule…too many to count!” Allura retorted. “Even if you never lifted a hand in conquest to those world’s invasions, what about the slaves brought back to Doom?” She glared at him them. “Enough slaves for every man, woman, and child to have a slave of their own!”
Vorlac let out a mean snicker of sound. “Is that what they say? Life might certainly be easier if every one on Doom could afford to house and feed slaves. But the reality is quite different. Zarkon and the nobles keep many of the slaves for their own use, send them scurrying off to do hard labor at little cost to their pockets. You heard the stories…the poverty we can attest to that so many ordinary citizens of Doom suffer. Poverty caused by the slaves taking our jobs. Why would the nobles hire free citizens when they could easily work a slave for longer hours and at little cost to them?”
“No Princess…” He said, when she huffed angrily in response to that question of his. “Doom is hardly a wealth glutted place. Only a few thrive, and the rest do as they can to manage. I dare say if our Empire didn’t rely so much on slave power, they wouldn’t have the coin needed to amass such large armies. Our purses are not lined with gold, our land is not a paradise free of suffering….”
“Next you’ll be telling me no one onboard this ship has ever kept a slave.” Allura muttered. Vorlac just looked at her, and her eyes widened in shock. “No….surely not. Even the prince has kept slaves…I’ve heard he has whole harems of women taken for his pleasure…”
“You’d do well to find out what is fact and what is fiction before making snap judgments.” Vorlac retorted. “The prince has no harems..”
“But slaves then…he’s made use of them?” Allura hated that she sounded so uncertain when she asked that.
“It is unavoidable in the castle.” Vorlac admitted reluctantly. That admittance made Allura feel oddly triumphant, as though it was confirming every bad thing she had been led to believe about Prince Lotor.
“I bet they suffer worse than the slaves who work your mines.” Allura shuddered then, thinking of King Zarkon.
“It is a different kind of hardship, yes…” agreed Vorlac.
“And you do nothing to stop it.” Allura sighed. “None of you, for all your sad stories and hero worship of Lotor, do anything to rebel against the status quo.” She glanced over her shoulder at Vorlac, just in time to see the Drule twitch with annoyance.
“It is as Ryder said. We are a small group. Any resistance we offered at this point would be crushed in an instant.”
“Then why don’t you appeal to the Alliance?” Allura demanded, pausing in the hallway to stare at Vorlac. “They would gladly lend you aid…”
“At what cost?” Vorlac asked. “They hate us as much as you do….they would ruin Doom under the guise of freeing us from Zarkon’s tyranny. We might end up worse off than we are now…”
“Or you might end up better off…” Allura retorted. But she couldn’t quite deny the hate he accused her of. And the troubled her anew. The whole experience talking to the other Drules, learning their stories had left her unsettled. She had heard far more talk of suffering than Allura wanted to believe possible for the Drules. Families torn apart by the war, by injuries, by poverty. Even worse, several of the Drules that had been willing to talk to Allura, told stories of how Voltron had ruined their lives. That upset Allura, for she had never considered the impact the robot was having on the Drules and their families.
People killed by the robot, homes destroyed by it. People injured trying to escape the battles between Doom and Voltron. There was even talk of wealth Voltron had apprehended from Doom, wealth that could have been used to better some of the Drule citizens lives. Allura could remember the time they had stolen treasure from a downed cargo ship. Allura had reasoned they could use the money they apprehended from Doom to buy medicine and better medical equipment for the hospitals on planet Arus. She had never considered that her actions would lead others to suffer, the princess assuming Doom was so wealthy that this theft would hardly be felt.
But it had been, someone telling her of how the missing money kept a whole city starving. Citizens had rioted in the streets, the soldiers forced to open fire on their own people. What limited rations had been made available were quickly sent elsewhere as a lesson against those who had rioted. It didn’t matter that children would starve and die, Zarkon had just wanted to make sure none of his kingdom’s people ever took it in their heads to rebel in such a manner.
Allura had heard many stories this last day and a half. And though she tried to harden her heart against feeling for these people, a kernel of sympathy had been planted. She could admit when someone had been wronged, when they had been dealt a harsh hand. But she didn’t have to like feeling this way. And she certainly didn’t have to adopt the same hero worship these Drules had for Prince Lotor!
“I still think you all have blinders on when it comes to Prince Lotor.” She said at last, as they drew near to the prince’s cabin. Vorlac made a noise to show he was listening, though it wasn’t a particularly happy sound. “He may on occasion do some nice things, but ultimately…he leads the invasions to conquer new worlds. He continues the cycles of poverty and violence.”
She felt oddly satisfied that Vorlac had no retort for her statement, the silver eyed Drule grimacing as he stepped past her to open the cabin’s door. Allura had to be pushed inside, the girl hesitating too long at the threshold. Lotor was not present in the outer chamber, though a meal had been laid out for them both. She turned to question Vorlac, but the Drule was already slamming the door shut behind him.
Allura sighed as the door’s lock was engaged. She wasn’t surprised they had locked her in with Lotor. Nor was she happy about the situation, Allura stalking over to the table and uncovering plates. She hoped to find a knife amidst the silverware, but the food had already been cut apart. In fact, aside from a spoon for a bland looking soup, there wasn’t a knife or a fork to be found.
Letting out an annoyed hiss, Allura began to pace the room. She wasn’t content to just sit and wait for Lotor. Nor was she prepared to enter the bedroom and search for him there. Not with the memory of how he had pinned her against his desk, and then carried her to his bed. She shivered, remembering how his hands had touched her legs, stroking up and down in an insistent massage. That was something that had to be avoided, Allura determined not to let Lotor lay his hands on her again.
The problem with that resolve was she had no way to enforce it. Lotor proved as much when he stepped out of the bedroom. His face seemed to light up with joy at the sight of her, a smile turning the corners of his mouth up. He was far too happy to see her, and it only increased Allura’s agitation. Especially when he walked up to her, his arms snaking around her in a fierce embrace.
“Lotor!” She gasped out against his chest, starting to struggle. He was possessive, holding her close and taking the time to smell her hair. This close Allura couldn’t help but breathe in the fresh, clean smell of Lotor, the prince having just recently stepped out of a shower. Even his hair was still wet, and slicked back over his ears.
“I missed you.” Lotor told her, seeming not to care that she was wriggling against him in an effort to get free. Allura looked up into his joy filled face, and frowned.
“I heard you were too out of it to even be aware of anything or anyone.”
“It still didn’t stop me from dreaming about you.” Was his reply. Some of his joy though, had dimmed. It made Allura wonder what kind of dreams he had had. Not that
she would ask him though. She wasn’t ready to get that personal with Lotor.
“Let me go.” She said instead, and Lotor merely tightened his hold on her.
“No, not yet.” He said, with a shake of his head. “It feels good to hold you….like you belong here with me…”
“I most certainly do not!” Allura protested alarmed. “If anything, I belong on Arus, among my own people.” She glared up at him. “People you’ve stolen me from.”
“I find I do not mind being a thief if the treasure is you, Allura.” Lotor retorted.
“Really Lotor, let me go.” Again he shook his head no, and Allura took an exaggerated breath. “I can’t breath with the way you’re crushing me to you!” It was a lie, but he didn’t need to know that, Allura pretending to wheeze. Lotor looked at her a moment in concern, than was reluctantly letting her go. She immediately tried to put distance between them, but his hand snagged hold of her arm. It seemed he would not tolerate her moving out of reach. A fact that had Allura annoyed.
She covered well though, looking him over. He seemed to stand taller for her regard, his smile brightening another notch. “You are recovered?” Allura asked, noting how clear his eyes looked now.
Lotor seemed pleased by that question, as though he was misunderstanding polite inquiry for real concern. “I feel better than I have in days! The doctor’s all but given me a clean bill of health…”
“Well…almost.” Lotor admitted with a sigh. “He’s got this silly little notion that I ought to remain in bed until we get to where we’re going.” His hand stroked down the length of her arm, leaving her flesh to shiver and break out into goose bumps. The reaction was even more pronounced when he lifted her hand up to his face, Lotor brushing kisses over her knuckles. Lotor maintained eye contact as he did that, Allura feeling her cheeks grow warm in response.
“And just where are we going?” She asked, fighting not to look away. Allura felt it a matter or pride. She would not give in to any embarrassment Lotor might cause in her. It wasn’t an easy battle, Lotor flicking out his tongue to taste between her fingers. Allura thought she heard herself gasp in response, more shocked than anything at what he had done.
She didn’t forget her question, though Allura felt the more pressing matter was getting her hand away from Lotor. She began to tug and pull, noting how Lotor’s fingers tightened around her wrist. It seemed he was more than recovered, and ready to resume his earlier harassment of her.
“You taste good Allura.” Crooned Lotor, licking her again. “All salty and sweet.”
She wasn’t happy to hear that, and began violently trying to pull her hand free. Lotor made a croon of sound, as though trying to calm her down. Allura just continued her attempts to pull free, not caring if she hurt herself in the process.
“Careful…” hissed Lotor, admonishing her. “You’ll hurt yourself.”
“Then let go!” Allura exclaimed, feeling close to panicking. She didn’t like him touching her. Not brief caresses or prolonged grasps. And she found she especially did not like him doing something as lewd as licking her hand. Allura found it improper, and just one step closer to Lotor attempting to have his way with her. The situation became worse when Lotor pulled her to him, the prince lifting her up off the floor. Allura began to breathe funny, her fright making her imagination go wild.
~So this is how it happens.~ Allura thought to herself. ~This is how he…~ She couldn’t finish the thought, eyes welling with tears. She couldn’t stop them, they dripped down her cheeks as Lotor carried her. She wasn’t draped over both arms, more standing than anything in his hold. Her feet dangled just a few inches off the floor, Lotor holding her so that she was just about even to gaze into his eyes.
Allura saw herself reflected in his golden gaze, her face making no effort to hide her upset. Lotor’s expression was schooled not to betray his thoughts, the prince effortlessly carrying her forward. But it was not to the bedroom he took her, though Allura felt cushions at her back as he lowered her down on something soft. She continued to wheeze and pant, hyperventilating in her panic.
“Shh…easy now…” Lotor murmured, his hand cupping her right cheek. He used his thumb to brush some of her tears away, Lotor leaning in to press a kiss against her forehead. Her hands came up, pressing into his chest in an attempt to ward him off. It was pitiful how weak she felt, Lotor easily pressing into her palms, ignoring her hands’ attempts to shove him back.
“St….stop…” Allura managed to grit out, and Lotor gave her a puzzled look.
“I’m not doing anything wrong.”
She tried to laugh at that, and it came out a choked sound. Did he really believe that? But she could see by the look on his face that he did. He truly believed he had a right to touch her like this, to manhandle her down onto the nearest piece of furniture and attempt whatever it was he was attempting. It didn’t register with Allura that he wasn’t ripping off her clothes, the maid’s dress remaining intact.
In fact, the only thing Lotor was doing was kneeling before her, his one hand caressing her wet cheek. His touch made it impossible for her to relax, Allura feeling her tears flow faster as a direct result of her heightened agitation. A strangled gasp escaped her when the prince leaned into her. He was intent on her tears, his tongue darting out to lap at her wet cheek. It tickled in the oddest way, but Allura felt no urge to laugh, just staring bemusedly at him. A second later she would break completely, giving in to huge gut wrenching sobs that had Lotor cradling her against his chest.
He’d make soothing noises, his hands running down her back. But he made no move to undo the buttons of the maid’s uniform, Lotor’s touch meant to be comforting
rather than sexual. She shook in his arms, trying to muffle her sobs, more than a little embarrassed he had gotten her to break down like this. But she couldn’t stop crying, not completely, not yet.
She’d keep right on crying, vaguely hearing Lotor murmuring things to her. It sounded like a lot of Drule gibberish to her, but his tone was a soft lilt. In his own way he was trying to comfort her, and her sobbing lessened enough for Allura to try and make out the words. Soon enough her attempts at concentrating on his words, had her sobbing stop completely though Allura felt no less embarrassed over what had happened.
She immediately tried to jerk out of Lotor’s arms, the prince once again turning possessive. His fingers found their way into her hair, which had remained loose. No one had thought to return her pins to her, either not caring or assuming she would somehow use the items against them. Allura thought that absurd, knowing at best she could only use the pins to pick a lock or two.
“There now…” Lotor’s smile was hesitant, the prince slowly easing her against the cushions. She had been too focused on him to realize it was a couch he had laid her down on, Allura struggling to remain upright. But the prince’s strength won out over hers, Allura being forced down against the pillows. He continued to smile, his one hand playing with her hair. “That wasn’t so bad.”
She blinked confused at him. Was he joking? Allura had been frightened out of her mind, her assumptions running wild as to what she had thought he was about to do to her. How could he think anything that caused such a panic in her was a good thing?!
One last stroke of her hair, and then Lotor was tapping a finger on her nose. She blinked in response, and his smile became more certain. “Next time you won’t start crying when I hold you.” He seemed confidant of that too. So confidant her jaw dropped, Allura wondering how he could think that. Her fear of him hadn’t lessened, and if anything she was even more wary of Lotor and his intentions.
“It’s a start…” continued Lotor, the Drule seeming content to do the talking for them both. “I know we’re a bit behind on schedule…”
“Schedule….?” Allura managed to asked. Lotor actually tsked at her, seeming disapproving in the moment.
“Don’t you remember?” he asked. “I told you that you had until the end of out trip to accept this relationship.”
“We have no relationship…” She automatically replied.
He sighed, more put out than anything. “My illness kept me from you…It’s delayed things between us.”
“It saved me from you.” Allura said in a small voice. It earned her a frown, Lotor turning displeased.
“That’s exactly the kind of thinking I had hoped to abolish before we arrived on planet Simestia.”
“Planet Simestia?” That almost distracted her, Allura thinking she had never heard of a world by that name.
“Are you familiar with it?” Lotor did a quick rubbing of her arms, nodding when she shook her head no. “I would have been surprised if you were. It’s a world long since forgotten by both the Doom Empire and the Galaxy Alliance.”
“If it’s forgotten, then how do you know about it?” Allura wanted to know. His gaze flickered, Lotor struggling with some unwanted emotion.
“It’s a holding of the Doom Empire.” He continued as though that was answer enough. “Not quite abandoned, the people have been left pretty much to themselves. We won’t have to worry much about the Empire’s patrols this far out in the galaxy.”
“How far out are we?” Allura asked, wanting a gauge of just how far they had traveled.
“We’re pretty much in the outskirts of the galaxy.” Lotor told her. “Stay here.” He stood up, and walked over to the table, fetching a plate of food. By the time he returned, she had sat up. He frowned, and she flashed him a defiant look, as though daring him to push her back down.
He knelt before her, resting the plate on her lap. She glanced down quickly, seeing an assortment of bland fruits. Lotor began pulling apart an apple that had already been sliced. The tiny wedges easily came apart in his hands, the prince lifting one to her lips. She caught the sweet scent of the apple, it’s moist, white flesh being rubbed over her lips in blatant tempt to tempt her into taking a bite.
She hesitated, then sighed, reluctantly allowing Lotor to feed her the apple slice. He smiled, no doubt pleased that he had her eating from his hand. He’d reach for another slice, bringing it to her lips. This time she needed less encouragement to eat the proffered fruit. He would switch to a juicy pear, using his fingers to stroke across her mouth after she had eaten that particular slice.
She didn’t particular like the teasing touch of his fingers on his lips, but Allura found it was simpler to just go along with him. Especially since he set out to feed her with a single minded determination that would not be discouraged.
“Lotor…” His hand holding a slice of banana paused, the prince waiting for her to voice whatever she had to say. “Why are we going to Simestia? What purpose does that planet serve? Shouldn’t you be taking me to Doom? Provided the Voltron Force and the Alliance doesn’t stop you?”
“We’re not going to Doom.” Lotor said, nudging the banana piece past her parted lips. “Not now, not ever.”
She nearly forgot to chew, staring at him in shock. Lotor took that moment to sneak a bite of apple for himself, completely nonchalant in the moment. “Not going to Doom?! Then…what….why? What are you planning?! What could you possibly….I…I don’t understand.”
Lotor took another apple slice, occupying himself with it’s chewing. “It’s simple really…” He said after swallowing. “We’re going to start over somewhere else. Somewhere far from the Empire and the Alliance, from Arus and Voltron.”
Starting to shake, she jerked up off the couch. The plate with the fruit clattered to the floor, but Allura barely paid it any mind. “You…you can’t be serious!” She exclaimed.
“I’m very serious Allura.” Lotor had risen when she had stood, giving her the feeling he would grab her if she tried to run past him. “There’s only two things I’ve ever been as serious about as I am now…You…and escaping from Doom.”
It was an interesting choice of words, but Allura didn’t dwell on that in the moment. She was too busy gaping at him in open mouth shock. “You…you…have a kingdom, an empire to your name. You have responsibilities…planets to conquer, worlds to crush…you can’t just give that all up…” She wildly shook her head, her hair falling into disarray around her. “Your father won’t let you turn your back on him….”
“As far as my father and the rest of the galaxy is concerned, I am dead.” Lotor told her, a glimmer of a satisfied smile on his face. ‘They will neither look for me, or try to stop me from leaving.” He extended his hand towards her, and Allura had no way to evade that touch. “Just as they won’t be looking for you, so long as Mara plays everything to perfection.”
She surely must have paled at the mention of the Drule female who had accompanied Lotor into the heart of the embassy. The very female who even now wore an enchanted necklace that made her look like Allura. She had hoped this Mara would screw up, making enough mistakes for Keith and the others to be alerted to the switch. But it had been days, and Lotor didn’t seem concerned about the Voltron Force at all. It made Allura wonder just what was going on Arus, and how thoroughly Mara was ruining things with her pretense.
Dizzy, she took a step back and landed hard on the couch’s seat. Faintly, she registered Lotor was talking to her, voicing some kind of concern. But Allura didn’t respond, lowering her head into her hands in disbelief. The very real possibility of no one coming to rescue her had just hit Allura, and hit her hard. She felt numb with shock, and she let out a moan, wondering what was to become of her now.