It is nearly a week later, the time to implement the next stage of my plan drawing near. Within minutes I shall be meeting with Allura’s parents, the King Alfor and the Queen Diana of Arus. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. But only a little. I am more eager than anything, sensing my victory is at hand. And all because of the video footage I have of Allura, of our moment together in Alfor’s own gardens.
A crafty smile crosses my lips as I remember that time with Allura. That time has meaning to it. After all, one moment of sin with Allura, and Arus is all but handed to me on a silver platter. No wonder I can’t help but think fondly of that time, knowing the moment I joined our two bodies together, I had changed all our fates. My victory is not yet assured, but I am confidant Alfor will do what he has to, if only to save his daughter from any further shame.
I want to laugh then. Humans are still so archaic that they place value on just who their females sleep with and when. It matters not what position or title the female holds, it’s the same across the universe. Women expected to behave and carry themselves with dignity and grace. While the men are allowed to roam free, making a conquest of any female easy enough to give up her charms.
It is different for the Drules. Men and women close to equals when it comes to sexual promiscuity. This plan of mine would never have worked if I had tried to do to a Drule princess what I have done to Allura. But then I don’t expect a Drule to be anywhere as naive about men as Allura had proven to be. It is that naivety that will seal Arus’ fate, save it from a war that would have led to many deaths on both sides. Allura will not appreciate the saved lives, concentrating only on her hurt and her hate of me. But if her parents have any sense, they will do exactly as I demand.
I don’t foresee this ending in any way but the way I desire. Arus will be mine, one way or another. The Drules onboard my ships are restless. They are spoiling for a fight, especially after a week spent in Arus’ orbit. Cut off from the women and entertainment’s of Arus, the soldiers have been going out of their mind with boredom. They are angry, quick to attack one another. Such attitudes will be a wonder on the battlefield, though it is my sincere wish that we avoid an actual war.
I am no coward. I love to fight as much as any other Drule. But I don’t see the harm in taking a world through peaceful means. Especially a paradise like Arus, which would better serve my people if it remained free of war and the damage the fighting would cause the land. I wish to make use of Arus immediately, and that would not happen if a war ravaged world had to recover first.
I am still thinking about my plans, and how they will benefit both the Drules and the Arusians. I am standing before a mirror, fiddling with the cuffs of my uniform. It isn’t the same uniform I wore to Allura’s birthday party. That one had been a dressier version, meant for formal occasions. The uniform I wear now signifies my serious intent. Alfor and his wife will not misunderstand the reason for the meeting I have called for.
It is not a meeting I want held in their castle. My business is real, my intent sinister but serious. They can be surprised all they like, but ultimately Alfor and Diana must meet with me. To do otherwise would run the risk of insulting me and my father. I’m sure they assume this is some minor errand I am running for Zarkon. Something to better facilitate Doom and Arus’ relationship. There is no way they can imagine the truth. Not with Allura keeping quiet.
I am not surprised at Allura’s silence. Not after the way I left her in the garden. Abandoned, with her clothes arranged in such a way as to expose her, Allura couldn’t misread the situation as anything positive. She had to know I had used her. That I had stolen her innocence, a virginity she had so foolishly given away to one smooth talking prince. The way I had left her, it spoke of how little I truly cared for her. She had to be hurting, and yet didn’t realize the worse was yet to come. For her, and for her parents.
A precise knock on my door lets me know Alfor and Diana have arrived. I give one last critical look to my appearance before moving to leave the room. I see many Arusians out in the hall, all dressed in the colors of the King and Queen’s private escort. These guards are armed, ready to fight should things go wrong. But they won’t be allowed into the meeting room. Nor will any of my Drules be allowed inside as well. This will be a private affair, one that will keep the matter of Allura’s shame a secret between us.
Of course the Drules I have brought with me to Arus already know all the details. But they will keep quiet, waiting to see if my plan actually works. I know it has to. So many lives depend on my plan’s success.
Outside I don’t betray any of this. I don’t even take a nervous breath before entering into the meeting room. Alfor and Diana are already seated at the table, but they rise to their feet at my approach. We all exchange bows and greetings, the mood pleasant so far. There is no need to be anything but respectful, I am ready to handle this affair with all the detachment of a business man. It is after all an exchange I want. Arus for Allura’s reputation. And like so many businessmen I know, both human and Drule, I will be ruthless if need be.
Once the pleasantries are exchanged and over with, we all move to take a seat. I sit across the table from Alfor and Diana, my back to the room’s sole door. Neither the King nor the Queen is nervous. And all because they do not suspect a thing. But how could they know otherwise, especially with Allura keeping quiet? I fight not to smile, trying to keep my expression serious.
Queen Diana is actually smiling, faintly but it is there. She has always liked me. Always treated me favorably. I feel a pang of regret to know she will despise me once I reveal my hand, and yet know her hate is infinitely better than Diana ending up dead.
For King Alfor, it is more difficult to read his emotions. His face is a mask of seriousness. He has come prepared for the politics needed to smooth over any problems that may have popped up between Doom and Arus. But this is one problem he won’t be able to fix, not in any way that will allow his family to retain control of planet Arus.
“I suppose you are wondering why I have called this meeting.” I say out loud, expression bland. Diana and Alfor both nod, before the King speaks.
“Yes.” Alfor says. “I must say I was most surprised when I received your summons for a meeting. Doom and Arus have been getting along remarkable well. And you gave no indication at Allura’s birthday celebration that there would be need to discuss any potential problems between us.”
“There was no need to ruin the celebration with talk of politics.” I say in reply. “Especially on a night that clearly meant so much to your daughter.”
“I thank you for that. But still. Waiting a week to contact us? It makes me think what you have to discuss is not all that urgent. And yet…You insisted we meet with you at our earliest convenience.”
There was a reason behind the wait. There had been several world leaders that had come to visit Arus for Allura’s birthday. Several world leaders that had come with sizable military escorts to provide protection for them should a threat appear. It was the military escorts I had been most concerned about. I did not want them lending aid to Arus, should fighting break out between my people and theirs. Of course I thought the chance for actual battle to happen to be less than five percent, but the fact remained that there was potential for war to happen before this day ended.
“I am wondering just what it could be that has your father so up in arms.” Continued Alfor. “King Zarkon has given no indication of any tension or problems between us and our kingdoms. Yet here you are…so clearly intent on business rather than visiting with us.”
“It is not any reason of my father’s that have brought us together this day.” I inform them. I can see the surprise in Diana’s blue eyes, but Alfor doesn’t so much as blink in reaction. “Indeed, my father doesn’t even know about this meeting.”
“Doesn’t know?” questions Alfor. “Then why..” He pauses then shakes his head. “What business do you have with me then? What reasons do you have for calling me away from my home?”
Once again I want to smile. Alfor has wasted no time in beating around the bush. I can only repay him by doing the same. “I have a very good reason for insisting on this meeting. You have something I want…something that would be far more satisfactory to be given than to take it.”
He doesn’t like my wording, his eyes narrowing slightly. “And just what would that be?”
One word, but it draws out quite a reaction. Diana’s mouth drops open in a round o of shock. Alfor’s eyes flash with dark emotion, his expression annoyed. “And just why would I even consider giving you Arus?” He demands. Alfor is angry, but nowhere near as much as he’s about to be.
“I’m so glad you ask.” I’m sure my own expression is amused, my hand reaching into my pocket. I pull out the tiny remote contained inside, and do not hesitate to trigger the controls. Alfor and Diana tense at the sight of the table’s hologram flickering to life. Most notably is the moaning, the sound of pleasure and pain mixing together. It is footage of when I first penetrated Allura that plays, the girl tearful over the hurt I had caused her.
There is a long silence between us three. The hologram plays directly in the center of the table between us. The images of Allura and I are about three foot in size. Large enough for details to be made out. There is no mistaking just who it is that is in the midst of coupling. I maintain my serious expression, concentrating on Alfor and Diana’s reactions rather than look at the arousing sight of the hologram.
Diana has grown pale with horror, a hand raised to her mouth to cover her gasp. Her eyes, so similar to Allura’s, is already looking wet with dismayed tears. She seems frozen, staring at the hologram that so offends her. Alfor’s face has grown tight with anger, a facial tick twitching on his left cheek. His hands have clenched into fists, and he stares at the hologram with a livid expression.
That expression turns murderous when he lifts his gaze to meet mine. “You…” Alfor seems at a loss for words, as though he can’t think of a curse vile enough for what I am. “You bastard!” He finished plainly.
“Not quite.” I say, knowing there is no question as to who my parents are, and their marital status. “I suppose you understand what this means?” I can see Alfor understands the situation perfectly. He hates himself for it, but not as much as Alfor hates me in the moment.
“Damn you.” He spits out the words, fists clenching harder.
I am ready to say something in response, but a strangled sound from Diana draws both our attention. “Why?” She finally manages to whisper, her eyes still on the hologram. It has been looped to play over and over again, right from the start when I entered the gazebo with Allura. I merely chose to play it near the end, for the most impact it would have on Allura’s parents.
“Why?” I repeat. She can’t even nod, too overcome with emotions. Alfor makes no attempt to comfort her, too busy glaring at me to do anything else. “Because she offered me the perfect opportunity. An opportunity I would have been a fool not to act on.”
“You’re a damn fool anyway!” Alfor snaps. I don’t bristle in response, refusing to take his insults personally.
“Doom has wanted Arus for a long time now.” I say to their surprise. Alfor quickly squashes that emotion, expression darkening further in understanding. “My father, Zarkon himself has long been planning for a way to invade your world.”
“And you what…thought you’d use my daughter to hand deliver her home to your father?!” demanded Alfor.
“Not quite.” I answer. “I want Arus for myself. But more than that, I do not want to see war ruin this world. I have many fond memories of Arus. Of the world, and of it’s people. Even of your family…”
“And yet you don’t allow those fond memories to keep you from putting your hands all over my daughter!” snarled Alfor.
“Sentimentality is for the weak.” I retort, cool in the face of the anger that fires him up. “I can’t let it, or any attachments I’ve formed keep me from my goals.”
“What is the point of this?” Diana has failed to understand what this hologram means, what it represents. I will spell it out for her, leave no terms uncertain of what I plan to do with the hologram and her daughter’s reputation.
“I am intending to meet with the press today. The reporters are already waiting, eagerly I might add, for my impending announcement. What I say to them, will be strictly dependent on your decision.”
“Decision?” Diana shakes her head no, as if that could deny it.
“Either I will be announcing that you’ve turned over Arus to my control…” A slow smirk crosses my lips now. “Or I will be releasing copies of this footage to the media.”
“No…” breathes out Diana. “NO!”
“Lotor, damn you!” Alfor scowls, awkwardly taking a sobbing Diana into his arms. She cries, but manages to retain her wits to ask me a question.
“Won’t this shame you too!?”
I give her disbelieving look. “What do I have to be ashamed about?” I ask. “I merely dallied with a beautiful princess. If anyone’s reputation will be ruined, it will by your daughter’s. To have her be used so thoroughly, and with no promise of a commitment in return? She’ll be lucky if all her future prospects don’t pull out, one after the other.” I make a tsking sound then. “Your daughter is very foolish to give herself away like that. So very foolish indeed….”
Diana stiffens at that, pulling herself out of her husband’s arms. “You are a snake Lotor! A vicious, vile being!”
“You are angry. I will not take offense to anything you have to say to me now.” I tell her, then look at Alfor. “So what is it to be? Will you give up Arus, and avoid a senseless war? Or will you face ruin and scandal, along with Doom’s invasion?” Alfor was scowling, his eyes angry and dark. “You have until this hour ends to give me your decision.”
Diana lets out a muffled sob at that. I stand, then turn away from the table. I do not shut off the hologram, leaving it to run on it’s endless loop. It is done not just to torment them, but to help them make the right decision. The only decision they can. I am smirking openly now, sure of my victory. They cannot see my face, my back is to them as I walk towards the door. But I hear a rustle of clothing, signifying movement.
I turn, and am almost too slow to react. And still the dagger catches me on the cheek, a long thin scratch as it whizzes by my face to slam into the door behind me. I am shocked, and my trembling hand reaches up to press gloved fingertips against the scratch. They come away wet with blood. I am still staring when Alfor charges me, the man’s expression once again murderous.
Diana screams just as I am slammed into the wall. Alfor is punching me. The wind is knocked out of me when his fists pummel into my stomach. Diana is still screaming, and then I recover and shove him away from me even as I reach for my sword. Alfor is reaching for the sword he wears on his hip, some long blade I had always assumed was ornamental. It is not, flaring to life just like my own, with a lazon blade.
The Queen’s screams are drawing attention, both Drule and Arusian soldiers rushing into the room. The Drules have no need to assess the situation. They can see my meeting has gone badly, and are already drawing their weapons. But the Arusians do the same, reacting in a split second to the fact the Drules have armed themselves. I can’t concentrate on the fighting that has broken out around us. I’m too busy dueling with Allura’s father.
Alfor is a better swordsman than I would have thought. I am forced constantly on the defensive. He leaves me little chance to do an attacking thrust of my own, his blade moving lightning fast. I yell at him as we fight, thinking to reason with him. The hologram on the table plays while all this goes on, my grunts and moans, Allura’s cries seeming to further Alfor’s rage.
“Alfor, this is foolishness!” I say. “You can’t win! Think of your daughter, of the scandal this will cause her!”
He says nothing to me, just always attacking with his sword. He seems intent on killing me, leaving me to fight for my life. I can hear soldiers dying around us, but I cannot stop to look and see which side is winning. This is not how things were supposed to go. The meeting wasn’t supposed to turn into a brawl, people weren’t supposed to die this day!
And yet it is undeniably that they are. Neither side is holding anything back, both Arusian and Drule vicious as they fight. I thought I would be the better swordsman if ever a duel between me and Alfor were to happen, but the King has rage on his side. The rage born of a father who wants to right the wrongs done to his daughter. That alone might be enough to have Alfor succeed in killing me!
Frantic, I try to reach through to him with the only thing that might get him to stop. “Killing me won’t avenge your daughter’s honor!” I parry his blade, avoiding being backed into a wall. “And it most certainly won’t bring peace between Arus and Doom! If anything, it will guarantee war between our two kingdoms!”
At first it doesn’t seem even that has reached him. Alfor seems determined to take my life. But then his eyes narrow. Never missing a thrust with his sword, he shouts out a command. “Guards, take him!”
I am too busy trying to defend against Alfor’s sword, to avoid the hands that grab hold of my arms. I struggle though, even as they try to force me to be still. Alfor does a slash with his sword, tearing open the front of my uniform and the skin below it. It hurts, but is not a killing wound. He stares for a moment, his sword arm shaking as though it is taking all his effort not to run me through with his blade.
“No.” He finally says. “No…I won’t be driven to do anything I might someday regret due to a moment of emotional irrationality.” Alfor locks eyes with me. “Nor will I allow you to have Arus, or ruin my daughter’s reputation.”
“I have more men waiting on ships that orbit Arus.” I announce. “They will come for me if I do not return by day’s end.”
“Let them come.” Alfor challenges. “They will die just as quickly as any other Drule.” He does a gesture with his sword. I can see both humans and Drules laying on the floor. But there is more dead Drules than there are dead humans. I cannot believe it, wondering how in the world humans could out matches Drule in a sword fight.
“My father will come for me!” I threaten as a last ditch retort. “He will not stand for whatever it is you intend to do.”
“Let him come.” Alfor sneers. “We shall school him on why it is not wise to mess with Arus and it’s might.” It’s a nasty look he gives me. “Take him away.” Instantly, the humans try to drag me out of the room. I fight, and shout at Alfor.
“You are making a big mistake!” It is then that one of the soldiers takes it upon himself to smash his fist against the back of my head. Just before it goes dark, I see Alfor taking a sobbing Diana into his arms, turning her away from the offending hologram. I don’t know what will happen to me next, can’t guess what my fate will be. But I am shocked that the day has turned so horribly for me and my Drules.