Duty 22

Allura had a million thoughts and concerns going through her mind. So many things to think about, with unpleasant memories struggling to come to the surface. If she let those memories come, they’d overwhelm everything else. Leave her shaking and crying, a broken girl rather than the capable woman Allura knew herself to be. But it was not so easy to just dismiss those memories, snatches of images playing out in her mind. Allura would actually flinch in response to some of them, but her thoughts did not scatter completely.

She forced new memories into her mind. They weren’t the best ones to have, Allura thinking on the conversation at breakfast this morning. She shuddered as she recalled Tesla, remembering the vivid picture the Drule female had painted of Zarkons’ cruelty. Allura tried not to think too hard though, not wanting certain things Tesla had said to trigger her panic.

She thought further back, remember Qualenn talking about a Doctor. Oveious was a name she might never forget, the man forever linked to the horror she had felt over the meal he had been presented with. It wasn’t just the cruel choice Oveious had been given, it was a sum of everything. From the victims tortured for Zarkon’s amusement, or to send his message, to the suffering of the Drule people. Even the idea she had been given of just how terrible, how excruciating Allura’s own suffering would be at Zarkon’s vindictive hands.

All of it together lead Allura to one decision. Zarkon HAD to be stopped. For the sake of everyone in the Denubian Galaxy. Allura wasn’t just fighting for Arus now, or for the Alliance. She was ready to fight for the Drules, to bring an end to the torments they had endured. She’d get Zarkon off his throne, see him executed for his crimes. Once Allura wouldn’t have given much if any thought as to what would happen to the Drules once Zarkon was gone. She would have let the people, who she had thought were nothing more than evil criminals, be the problem of the Alliance.

Now she understood the Drules weren’t all evil. That they deserved a chance to have an honorable person leading them. Someone who would rebuild their civilization, supply funding for programs that would help the Drules recover their lives. Someone who wouldn’t punish those who were sick and unable to afford medical care. It seemed a big project to undertake, but Allura was determined to advocate for a people whose voice had been silenced for too long.

She couldn’t do it from here. Simestia was too isolated a world. She needed the resources of her own planet, the support of her people. She needed the Alliance, and Allura needed Volron. The Drules here weren’t ready to help anyone but themselves. It wasn’t just Lotor who was running, if she judged Qualenn’s response correctly. All the Drules here had abandoned their world, trying to flee to a better life. Allura could understand their reasons, though she couldn’t approve of it.

The door to the room opened, and Allura immediately stood up. A human woman was entering, a soft smile on her lips. Allura looked at her curiously, thinking that this is what a Simestian must look like. She was very human in appearance, a beautiful green eyed woman. She had black hair that was almost longer than Allura’s, loose but with some of the side strands swept back to form a shorter twist of cascading curls.

With her hair swept back like that, her ears were left uncovered. Allura’s eyes widened when she noticed they were longer than a human’s, pointed and looking very much like a Drule’s. The woman began to introduce herself, but Allura barely paid attention. Instead she blurted out her shock, her wide eyes fixed on the woman’s ears.

“Your ears are so long!” The woman did not take offense. If anything her smile became more pronounced. Allura immediately turned flustered, sheepishly looking away. “I’m sorry, that was rude of me. It’s just…I’ve never met a Simestian before.”

“Then we are even. I’ve never met a human off worlder before.” The woman then gestured to herself. “My name is Alexandria. I am a priestess at the temple for this city.” She paused expectantly, Allura still recovering from her embarrassment. “And you are?”

“OH! I am Allura of planet Arus.”

“Arus.” The priestess repeated carefully.

“Have you heard of it?” Allura asked hopefully, then deflated when the priestess shook her head no.

“I’m afraid Simestia doesn’t have much contact with other worlds.” The priestess came to sit down besides Allura. “We haven’t wanted to. Not after what happened with Zarkon.”

“I can’t say I blame your people for feeling that way.” Allura said. “I don’t know much of what has went on, but if it’s anything like Zarkon’s usual tactics, then your world has suffered greatly.”

The priestess bowed her head in acknowledgment of her world’s suffering. “We are still recovering.” She told Allura. “There is still some ways to go before we can truthfully say Simestia has healed of all that was done to it’s land and it’s people.”

“Do you hate them?” Allura impulsively asked. The priestess looked surprised. “The Drule I mean?”

“I try not to hate anyone.” Alexandria answered. “But there are people who fear the Drule, and yes, some might even hate them for what they’ve done.”

“You didn’t let that fear keep you from coming here.” Allura noted approvingly.

“I have a sacred duty to help any in need.” Alexandria answered. “It would be wrong to ignore those who need help.”

“Yes, it would be.” Allura agreed. “Priestess, I have a favor to ask of you. Maybe it’s too great a one, but I beg you to hear me out.”

“A favor?” Alexandria looked curious. “You do not want me to hear your confession?”

“That was the reason you were brought here under. But I…I have more need of you than just to unburden my soul.” Allura looked urgently at Alexandria. “Please…I have to know I can trust you. That you won’t betray anything that’s said in this room.”

“I take the confidence of confessions very seriously.” Alexandria told her. “If it’s your wish that I not speak on this, then no one shall hear.”

Allura let out a relieved sigh. “Thank you. But it’s just the Drules that I worry about.” Another curious look from Alexandria. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I am the only human among this large group of Drules.”

“That they came with any humans was surprising.” The priestess said.

“I guess it is.” Allura agreed. “I might as well come out and say it. I was not willing when I was brought here to your world.”

“You are their captive?” Alexandria’s eyes had widened in alarm. Allura nodded, which only made the priestess more concerned. “They have not hurt you, have they?”

“Oh no! They’re not treating me too badly, all things considered. But…”

“You can’t stay here.” Deduced Alexandria.

“Yes. There are things I must do. People I must help. I had a life on Arus, but more than that, I have responsibilities. To my people, and to the galaxy at large.” Allura was sure her look was determined. “I have to get back to Arus. Not only to protect that world from Zarkon, but to defeat that madman.”

Alexandria rose to her feet, gasping in shock. “Defeat him? You?!”

“I wouldn’t do it alone!” Allura protested in response to Alexandria’s disbelieving look.

“I should certainly hope not!” The priestess exclaimed. “But how can you do, even with help, what a whole world of people could not?”

“Because it won’t be just one world.” Allura explained. “We will have all the worlds join together! United under the Galaxy Alliance, with Voltron leading the charge….”

“Voltron? What is Voltron?” The priestess interrupted.

Allura paused, blinking in surprise. “You’ve never heard of Voltron?” Alexandria shook her head no. “It’s a…it’s a robot my father built. It’s what kept Arus free all this time.”

“One robot up against the might of the Doom Empire?” Alexandria looked so skeptical then.

“I know it must sound impossible, but Voltron can pull off miracles!”

“Then why haven’t you used it before this to defeat Zarkon?” Allura turned embarrassed at that question.

“I was foolish. I wasn’t thinking of the bigger picture. Wasn’t thinking beyond protecting my own world, and helping a few of Arus’ neighbors. I thought as long as we kept Zarkon from invading Arus, we were safe. I realize now…we were protecting ourselves, but condemning millions of others to the same suffering we sought to avoid!” Allura exclaimed. “Priestess, that may be my biggest sin. I am ashamed of myself…ashamed of how ignorant I had been. I hated a race, a whole planet of people who were suffering as much if not more than my own. I saw them as evil, as a problem that needed to be eliminated. I didn’t try to learn about them. To understand what they were going through. It’s a sin shared by others, maybe the whole of the Denubian Galaxy, for the hate and fear of this people runs far.”

“The Drule.” Alexandria whispered. “You are talking about the Drule.”

“Yes! Zarkon…he doesn’t care about anyone. He hurts the Drule as much as he hurts the other worlds.”

“I’ve heard some stories…” Alexandria was still whispering. “I was fortunate not to be born during that time, but the elders….oh how they remember! And they talk, wanting us to never forget the horrors of Zarkon. The things he did, not only to our own people, but to his own family….”

“His family?” Allura asked sharply.

“He took a wife from among the slaves he made of the Simestians.” Alexandria explained. “Some would say he returned to this planet with her, in order to please her in some way. But many agree, he brought her here only to make her suffer. To make her watch how he treated her beloved people. As if that wasn’t painful enough, he began turning that abuse onto her. And onto the son they had made.”

“Zarkon’s son….?” Allura said it slowly, somehow managing not to gasp. But she was sure her eyes were as wide as saucer plates by now.

“I do not know his name.” Alexandria told her. “I think no one here knows. They just remember the young boy screaming, his mother trying to save both herself and him by jumping from the highest window in this mansion.”

Allura suddenly thought she now had an even better understanding of why there were bars in every window. Even worse, she felt tears prick her eyes, Allura wanting to weep at the thought of that young boy Lotor had been. How terrified he must have been, as his own mother tried to kill them both. She used the word try, because she remembered that conversation with Lotor, where he had spoke of how his mother would have wished to die on her beloved home world, Simestia.

“The injuries weren’t enough to kill them.” Continued Alexandria in a hushed voice. “Nor were they enough to get the King to stop hurting them.” She shook her head then. “This house has seen a lot of violence, a lot of cruelty. Some whisper that the people tortured and killed here, still linger in this place, unable to move on.”

If Zarkon had done anything like the tortures Tesla and Qualenn had talked about to the Simestians, no wonder they had left the mansion abandoned. “It’s so horrible. The more I hear about him, the more I want to kill him myself!” Allura exclaimed fiercely. “I’m sorry. I know it’s wrong to kill. That it’s wrong to even want to hurt someone. But Zarkon must be stopped. Even if he’s captured alive, there’s no way the Alliance would allow a criminal of his level to avoid execution.” She exhaled a breath, trying to get control of her raging emotions. “Please priestess. You must help me!” She took hold of Alexandria’s hands, the priestess coming to sit down next to Allura once more.

“What must I do?”

“I need you to get a message out. To Arus.” Allura said. “But more than that….I need you to help me escape if you possibly can.” She tried not to flinch, knowing she was about to ask for a lot. “Are their any strong men you can rely on? Any men who would be willing to break into the mansion, fight the Drule if it came to it?”

“No one would dare lift a hand to a group of Drules as large as this one!” protested Alexandria with a gasp. “If Zarkon were to learn of such an act of agrression, he would return here to kill us all!”

“Zarkon would never know! I promise you!” Allura swore. Alexandria didn’t look like she believed her, shaking her head no. “These Drules, they are no longer part of his Empire. They are running from him…running from the horrors of his reign. Don’t you see, priestess? If they complain to Zarkon, they lose as much as you do. He would kill them all for their attempts to flee him.” She stared hard at Alexandria. “And that is before you take into account that they helped kill his son.”

“They killed his son?!” Alexandria gasped anew.

“That’s what the rest of the galaxy believes.” Allura couldn’t smile. “His son wanted away from Zarkon so badly, that he’d rather fake his own death then stay and watch the suffering continue.” Allura was wondering what Zarkon had done that had been the driving point that made Lotor’s mother decide to attempt suicide rather than continue living surrounded by Zarkons’ madness. “You may have even met Lotor.”

“Lotor.” Alexandria said. “That is the son’s name?”

Allura nodded. “He’s tall like all the other Drule, but he has a long mane of white hair.”

“Ah yes. I know which one you speak of.” Alexandria frowned. “Hard to believe the boy is alive, and that he didn’t grow up to be as twisted as the father is.”

“Oh Lotor has some issues. But I’m coming to understand he’s nowhere near bad like Zarkon is.” Allura sighed. “But he doesn’t understand why we should go back. Why we should fight for everyone’s safety. I can’t stay here on Simestia, and I sure as hell can’t go to some other galaxy. I wouldn’t be able to live my life, knowing I turned my back on everyone!”

“You are very kind.” Alexandria said. “You are brave, and determined.”

“That I am.” Allura agreed. “I can’t pretend to be fearless. I am TERRIFIED of what will happen if I fail and fall into that monster’s hands. But I know I have to do something! It feels as though this is my calling, my true purpose in life.” She gave a half laugh. “I dedicated my life to my people, to helping them recover. It wasn’t wrong what I did, but I know now I could have been doing so much more!”

“I will help you.” Alexandria decided. “In any way I can. I don’t know if I can find anyone to agree to make a raid on the mansion, but I can at least put out a call to your Arus.”

“Thank you.” Allura squeezed her hands, wanting to hug the priestess but not knowing if it was proper. The priestess gave her a squeeze back, and then they were letting go of each other’s hands. “Let me see…there might be some paper in here.” Allura stood up, Alexandria doing the same. The two would begin to move about the room, intent on finding something to write with.

One of the first places Allura checked was a desk, the girl pulling open all the drawers. They were predominantly empty, this desk and room having not been used in decades. But there was broken pencil halves laying inside one of the drawers, Allura grabbing one. Alexandria would walk towards her with a book in hand, looking apologetic. “I could not find anything but a few books.” She said.

“That’s fine.” Allura took the book from her, and began flipping through it. She came across a page that was the end of a chapter, almost blank save for a few ending lines. “Perfect.” Allura breathed out in satisfaction. She carefully ripped the page from out of the book, and then set it down on the desk. “I’m going to give you both the private and emergency com frequencies to the castle. Someone is always monitoring them both.”

Alexandria was nodding, though she had a question. “The castle?”

“That’s the castle of lions, my home.” Allura said, looking up from what she was writing. She gave an embarrassed smile. “I haven’t properly introduced myself after all. I am Allura, the princess of Arus.”

Alexandria looked stunned. “Any…anything else I should know?”

“Not about me. But talk to Coran. He’s my advisor, and the regent in charge of my absence. You have to make clear to him, that the Allura on planet Arus is NOT me. That she is a Drule disguised by Haggar’s magic.” Alexandria was starting to look a little overwhelmed and Allura couldn’t blame her. “It was not just Lotor’s death they faked. They’ve replaced me with an imposter to hide that I’ve been kidnapped. Tell him to send the lions to Simestia, but make him understand this is a rescue mission only. They are not to kill any of the Drules with me.”

For good measure, Allura wrote this all down. She then straightened, folding the paper and handing it to Alexandria who hesitated. “I have no pockets in my gown.” She pointed out. Allura frowned for a minute, eyes critical as she looked the priestess over.

“Ah…pardon me…” Allura was trying to be practical as she slip the note down into the priestess’ bodice. The note was squeezed between the priestess’ breasts, the pale women holding the faintest blush to her cheeks. “They didn’t do like a pat down or anything when they brought you here, did they?”

Alexandria looked scandalized at the thought. “They would not have dared!”

“Good.” Allura smiled, satisfied. “It’s not the way I wanted to do things, and I certainly don’t want to have to sit around and wait but…it’s better then doing nothing at all!” She took hold of the priestess hands again. “Thank you. Thank you so much….” She didn’t dare say anything about how the fate of the galaxy now rested on the priestess’ ability to make the call to the castle. Alexandria didn’t need anymore pressure on that front.

“I’m just doing what I can to help.” Demurred Alexandria.

Letting go of one of Alexandria’s hands, Allura began urging her towards the door. “You can’t imagine how much better I feel.” She was saying, as she began to pull open the door. “Is it all right if I walk out with you?”

“Of course.” Alexandria said, but Allura was gasping. The door had fully opened, revealing a silver eyed Drule. And he was not happy, eyes narrowed into a glare, hands on his hips.

“Vorlac!” exclaimed Allura, and she didn’t have to fake that frightened gasp. “Oh..I didn’t see you there at first. The priestess was just leaving…” She was trying to act as if nothing had happened, but could tell by his anger that Vorlac had been eavesdropping. And still Allura tried to usher Alexandria past him, hoping against hope that he didn’t know enough to stop them.

“Ryder was right to be suspicious about you!” Vorlac said, grabbing a hold of Allura’s arm. Allura fought not to scream, wanting to urge Alexandria to make a break for it, foolish though that running would be.

“What are you talking about?” Allura managed, though she was far from calm. “I’ve done nothing.”

“Nothing but plot behind our back!” Vorlac snapped. “Lotor trusted you! And you would betray him the first chance you get!?”

“It’s not like that!” Allura protested indignantly. “Vorlac, Zarkon has to be stopped! You know he has too! And we won’t be able to do it alone…!” Vorlac’s eyes flickered, the scaly Drule fighting not to show some kind of emotion. Allura wondered if he agreed with her, and pressed on. “We need Voltron, and we need every planet in the Alliance backing the robot, to help us rid the galaxy of Zarkon!” His look was one of intrigue, Allura feeling hopeful.

“And what of the Drule?” He asked. “What would you have done to our people?”

“Help them of course! Help them so they can rebuild their lives, heal from the horrors of Zarkon. So they can be the good people you tell me they all are!” Allura exclaimed. “So they can not only be productive members of the galaxy, but a welcome addition to the Alliance.”

“It won’t be easy.” Vorlac said, his grip loosening on Allura’s arm.

“Nothing worth having is!” Allura pressed on. “But it can be done! If you won’t do it for yourself, or your people…do it to honor the memory of your murdered family!” Allura realized than that she had gone too far. Alexandria gasped, Vorlac’s expression turning angry once more. “I’m sorry.” She quickly said. “Tesla…”

“Tesla speaks about what she shouldn’t.” Vorlac grumbled. “And so do you.” With that he was shoving Allura back into the room.

“What are you going to do?!” Allura cried out. Vorlac stood in the doorway, reaching for Alexandria’s arms.

“Going to figure out how to deal with this problem you caused us.”

“You won’t hurt her.” Allura stated confidently. “Priestess, he won’t hurt you.” Alexandria didn’t look at all reassured by what Allura had just said. “Vorlac…”

“You just sit here, and shut up!” Vorlac snapped, and dragged Alexandria out of the room.

“At least let me see Lotor then!” Allura demanded.

“Princess, you aren’t in any position to make demands!” Vorlac growled, kicking the door close. Allura immediately ran to the door, hearing the lock engaged. She was furious, shouting at Vorlac to open the door, and in the next breath pleading with him to bring her to Lotor. She didn’t think any of the Drules would hurt Alexandria, but she also didn’t know what they would now that the priestess knew everything.

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