Better Worse 28

My mood uplifted, there was a spring in my step as I sauntered down the hall. I had long since left behind Avok and the guards, and not even the prince’s howls of pain could be heard this far away. I still struggled not to laugh every time I remembered the way Avok had screamed, and I didn’t hold back the impulse to congratulate myself on aiding Avok on his way to being injured. It was wicked, the delight I took in Avok’s hurt, and I dare say his being injured was among the best of the things that had happened to me in recent memory.

It was a sign of how sad a state my life had become, that indirectly causing a vicious, potentially debilitating injury to someone, was the only true joy I could find. The only happiness I had truly experienced since being captured and forced to wed Allura. I refused to dwell on it though, not wanting to lose the one bit of happiness I had, malicious though that joy was.

I was also enjoying a freedom I hadn’t had since being tossed inside the castle dungeons. No guards shadowed my every movement, the pair assigned for this particular task too busy overseeing the hysterical prince. Avok had done more than just scream, he had lashed out, struggling against those who had tried to help him. I suppose the pain was too much for him, shutting down all his reason until he was little more than an mindless animal in pain. I didn’t care either way, not interested in helping someone who had meant to do me harm.

What I WAS interested in, was making another attempt to escape the castle. With no guards trailing after me, I thought it might be easier to sneak out. That hope was dashed after several more corridor turns, a pair of soldiers standing at attention before a door. We spotted each other at the same exact instant, and shared a similar grimace. Their grimaces deepened when they realized I was without an armed escort.

Quickly backpedaling the way I had come, I hurried to get away. There was no sound of pursuit, but I didn’t believe for an instant I was free to do as I pleased. And indeed I wasn’t, several new soldiers appearing. They weren’t the pair I had encountered several corridors away, but they had most likely been contacted by the first two. I held in my grumbles, kept my head held high, and didn’t slow my pace one bit. That duo followed behind me, never rushing, but never slowing. It appeared they were content to just watch, to wait me out. But if they thought I was going to give up at the first sign of adversity, they had another thing coming!

The idea didn’t immediately come to me. I’d actually walk the length of the castle, all the way from the North eastern side, to the South western side, picking up guards here and there. They were uneasy, and so was I, not liking the large group that pursued me. I’d keep on walking, and then deviate towards the sound of many voices. I didn’t dare think I could lose Alfor’s watch dogs in a crowd of humans, but hope and an idea had come to me.

Expression one of the utmost boredom, I zeroed in on the voices. It was a large crowd that I heard, perhaps as many people present as there had been for the wedding ceremony that had tied Allura and I together. The guards behind me began to speed up, perhaps hoping to overtake me before I reached the crowd. But I had quite the lead, and my fast gait took me around the corner, and into the busy open area of the castle’s main entrance.

The drawbridge was down. There was people both entering and exiting the castle. They weren’t any servants, and they certainly weren’t people come to ply their wares. If they had been, they would have used one of the side entrances devoted to the help. No, these were people come from all over Arus, maybe even a few visitors from other worlds. They’ve all come here to express various concerns to the King and Queen of this planet, and maybe even a few had come hoping to wish their princess well on her new marriage.

I wasn’t noticed until I began trying to make my way closer to groups of people waiting to exit the castle. Those people began whispering in excitement, some pointing at me, while others grimaced and glared. They had not forgotten the attacks my fleet had done to their planet, or the loss of Arusian lives my private army had cost them. It made me uncertain, though I didn’t stop moving. I was realizing I might not be able to get help off this planet from any of these people, but I kept on trying to make for the exit. I was determined to get out of the castle, and thought to myself I would figure out the details of any further escape later.

I’d never get the chance. There was more guards on the draw bridge, and they began organizing the crowds. Entrance to the castle began to slow then stop completely, they were actually turning people away in an attempt to cover what was about to happen. Those that had been admitted, were quickly being hurried off down side corridors. They wanted no witnesses to what was about to happen, perhaps fearing my temper and the rage that would follow, would lead to innocent bystanders being hurt before the device in my arm subdued me.

I wasn’t yet angry, more desperate than anything. I was all set to break out into a run, to try and close in the distance between myself and the few people left attempting to exit the castle. The guards wouldn’t make a move if I was surrounded by civilians, would they? But I never got to find out, a man stepping in front of me. He was in full soldier regalia, a captain by the look of the symbols on his chest plate. His face was stern, expression unforgiving as he sneered at me.

“Turn back your highness.”

“Get out of my way!” I hissed at him, but had to stop. The man wasn’t moving, seeming to prefer I walk into him then step aside. That and that alone led me to be cautious, my senses screaming out a warning. “Move!” I snarled lowly at him.

“I’ll ask you again, your highness. Turn back.” He was uncompromising, hard as stone and willing to risk getting within reach of me. I wondered if I could kill him before the device triggered, and I actually attempted to side step him by lunging to the left. He moved with me, getting right in my face.

“I’m leaving here.” I told him, but the bravado I felt was false. The guards that weren’t guiding the others away, were closing in on me. It wouldn’t be long before I was completely surrounded, and I felt the desperation fill me. “You can’t stop me!” I snapped, ready to knock this man over.

“That’s where you’re wrong, your highness.” I felt something against my stomach, and even before I glanced down, I had realize what it was. A hand held pistol, it’s laser most likely set to stun.

“You can’t possibly mean to shoot me!” I exclaimed.

“I’ll shoot you before I let you leave this building.” He answered.

“What will the civilians think?” But I already knew the answer, the real reason they had been led away. None of them were close enough to see what was happening, and the way this captain held his weapon, no civilian would know it was there. They wouldn’t even realize his weapon had been drawn, both our bodies shielding it from sight. “Think of what this will look like!” I said, desperate and frantic to somehow get this man to back down.

The guards closed in around us, forming a tight knit circle. In the distance I could hear a woman speaking to the visiting people, distracting them from what was happening just a few short feet from them. I started to shake, absolutely furious with what was happening, with how easy they were finding it to cover my capture.

“Steady now your highness.” Advised the captain. “Don’t want things turning ugly…”

“It’s too late for that.” I snarled, and that sound alone was enough to get the guards tensing up. I didn’t care, fool move that it was, I was grabbing at the captain’s wrist. Fighting with him over the pistol, as I twisted my body to the side. A shot fired into the man behind me, the guard falling to the floor with a moan. Someone reached for me, and got an elbow to the face, and then it happened. The damn device in my arm began to set out waves of painful electricity. I bit back a scream, still trying to fight. But my hands were convulsing, unable to hold onto the captain’s pistol.

The men were careful not to touch me, as I began to fall to the floor. None of them wanted to experience the shocks going through me second hand. I writhed inside the circle, trying to form the words to threaten them. But my voice was too slurred with pain, my words near incoherent. Over the buzzing in my head, I heard a voice speaking, though it wasn’t a particularly sympathetic one.

“Give up and give in. It will be easier on you if you do.”

I could have laughed if I hadn’t been in so much pain. And even as I contorted on the ground, electricity dancing over my body, I was rebellious. Defiant to the last, I hissed out a word. “Never.” I made a broken sound in my attempt to laugh, and then I inhaled to scream. “NE….”

I never got out more than one syllable, someone shooting a laser into my back. It’s stun setting knocked me out, and is probably what kept on keeping the crowd of civilians ignorant to what had been transpiring behind them.

I was out for the subsequent operation to get me off the ground and back into the castle dungeons. It felt as though it was my destiny to keep on returning to this place, my body dumped on the cell’s stone floor, rather than on it’s cot. At least they hadn’t chained me, though I couldn’t muster up any true gratitude for that small favor. I was too upset, angry and aching. Most painful of all was the spot where the pistol’s laser had shot me, the fabric over my back scorched, and crumbling like burnt paper. A foul taste was in my mouth, and even my hair felt fried.

I didn’t bother to scream for the guards, didn’t bother to make demands to be let out of my cell. I barely had the motivation to sit up, let alone get off the floor and do anything else. I was angry with everyone, and that even included myself. I couldn’t understand why I could not figure out a way out of this nightmare, or how I could let some human outsmart me. Even if that human was as crafty and calculating as Alfor was proving to be.

Scowling, I’d rip off the sleeve of my already damaged beyond repair tunic. I’d glare hatefully at my arm, at the spot that no longer held any sign of the surgery that had been performed on me. But I knew what was under the skin, had felt it’s lash far too many times. I’d actually press my nails into my skin, wishing I had claws like my father. Maybe then I’d be able to dig out the device.

Maintaining my glare, I pressed harder with my nails, watching as thin rivulets of blood began dribbling down my skin. It would hurt something terrible to try and carve up my own skin, especially with such inadequate tools for the job. I wasn’t yet that desperate, but a few more shocks from the device might change my mind. I kept on pressing with my nails, until the pain was more than I could tolerate. The blood continued to well out, thin but noticeable, my finger tips red with it.

I didn’t even try to stop the bleeding, knowing the trickle was slow enough that I was in no danger. I’d lay back on the cot, staring up at the gray ceiling, trying to find my center of calm. But angry thoughts kept on coming, the self recriminations mocking me about being bested by a human and his lackeys. That human would appear outside my cell, though it had to be hours later.

I didn’t even sit up to acknowledge Alfor, not even as the cell door opened. Out the corner of my awareness, I saw the movement of the guards. They were nervous about their King entering into the cell with me. Alfor was anything but nervous, calm and confidant, and wearing his sword belt. I considered making a grab for his sword, but before I got into motion, Alfor spoke.

“Go ahead Lotor. Try to be even more stupid than you already have been this day.”

That tore a growl from me. I was rising off the cot, lunging towards Alfor, when he slammed a fist into me. I had been unprepared for that maneuver, the wind knocked out of me as I fell onto my back onto the floor. The electricity currents started, and I spent several minutes writhing in pain, Alfor staying just out of reach of me.

“I’ve had enough.” I said, when I had calmed down enough for the device to stop zapping me.

“Apparently you haven’t, or you wouldn’t be here.” He said, giving a gesture to my surroundings. “Are you ready to talk, or do you need another lesson in discipline?”

I glared up at him, still feeling too weak to even sit up. “Heh…discipline? Is that what you’re calling it?” I snorted. “Easy enough to talk big when you have an unfair advantage against a Drule!”

“One of your many problems is you don’t believe in we humans ability to fight, and fight well.” Alfor retorted. “Or have you forgotten the way I beat you when we crossed swords?”

I hadn’t, but still thought of that as a fluke. I didn’t believe there was any way a human could defeat me on fair ground, especially one who was no longer in the prime of his youth. “You were fueled with the anger and outrage over what I had done to your daughter.” My lips curled as I sneered. “You got lucky.”

“If that is what you need to tell yourself, in order to live with your defeat.” Alfor answered with an angry smile.

“The same way you needed to implant that device in me, in order to feel safe around me?” I retorted with my own angry grin.

“The fact of the matter is you are a danger. Not to me, but to many of the others under my employ.” A pointed, disapproving look. “You’ve already killed one guard, and injured several others, even with the implant working to subdue you.”

“More will die if you don’t let me go, and end this farce you call a marriage”

“You’re in no position to make threats.” Alfor told me.

“You can keep me here for now, but you can’t control what I say and feel!” I made a fist then, but was careful to keep from using it. “Damn it, you can’t control me that completely! I’ll find a way….”

“A way to what? Get free? And then what will you do?” demanded Alfor. “Run back to your father?” At my hesitant nod, he snorted. “Zarkon and I have an agreement. One you’re well aware of. You will not be welcomed back on Doom anytime soon.”

“My father agreeing to such a thing was a moment of weakness on his part. A moment that I’m sure can be overlooked, once I am returned to the Doom Empire.”

“Do you think he wants his son more than he wants peace between our two worlds?” Alfor asked. “Fool! You know little of the situation. Even with so many of your personal army lost to you, you still refuse to understand the power Arus wields.”

“And am I to believe my father has that understanding?” I shook my head in response to Alfor’s nod. “I don’t know how you cowed him into rolling over for you, but I will not. Not now, not ever, no matter what you do to me!” I rose to my feet now, tense but not yet attempting to attack him. “I will never break, I will never stop trying to leave here, and I will never forget the insults you have done me these past few weeks!”

“Insults?!” He actually hissed in response, his expression tight with his anger. “You dare speak of insults to me? After what you did, and what you attempted to do after using my daughter in that way?!”

“She enjoyed the using.” I taunted him. Alfor’s eyes seemed to grow angrier yet, but he had enough restraint not to throw himself at me. That was almost impressive, given the amount of anger he was showing.

“You dare?” He asked me, seeming to need to take several breaths before continuing. “Even after all my daughter has done for you, you dare insult her further?”

“Oh? And what has she done?” I demanded. “Save to deny me the only thing I would take from her!”

“It’s because of Allura you even still breathe!” Alfor snapped. “It is because of her choice, I didn’t kill you days ago!”

“You wouldn’t have killed me!” I protested, though I felt the tiniest bit uncertain with the angry way Alfor stared at me. “Not without risking Doom’s wrath.”

“When will you learn that Arus, that I, fear nothing that Doom would throw at us?!” Alfor demanded. “In choosing you, Allura saved your life! I will not have her regret that choice!”

“But she already does!” I retorted. “She regrets it every moment. She knows as well as I do, we can’t be happy this way.” I tried to cool some of the anger in my expression, my voice not pleading but also not shouting. “Let us put the past behind us. Annul this marriage. Let me return to Doom, and do what you will with your daughter….It might be the only way for us all to be happy….”

“And what of the….complications you caused?” Alfor asked, surely referring to the baby. “What would you have us do about that?” I shrugged, which only seemed to increase Alfor’s anger. He wasn’t red in the face like Avok had been, but I was beginning to think all the men in Allura’s family ran hot with their tempers. “Do you know nothing of responsibility? Of facing the consequences of your actions?”

“I just want to go home.” I said in response. “I want to return to the life I had before this whole mess started.”

“I’m sure we all would like to return to the lives we had before you set out to ruin my daughter.” Alfor retorted. “But what’s done is done. You made this mess, and now you will reap the repercussions of it!”

“You let me go this instant, or you WILL pay!” I snarled at him, no longer trying to keep my anger in check. Alfor gave me a disbelieving look. “Mark my words, human! I will find a way! And when I do, I won’t just make you suffer, but the entire planet!”

“All the more reason I should just kill you where you stand!” Alfor snarled back.

“And make a mockery of the choice your daughter made?” The electricity was starting up, staggering me in place. I’d fall against the cot, but continue to glare at Alfor. “Let me GO!”

Allura’s father stared back at me, his expression angry as he watched me convulse in place. I had no sense of time, only the pain and my anger remained. The anger in Alfor’s expression didn’t go away, though his eyes took on a calculating look. He’d reach into his pocket, and pull out a communicator. I couldn’t concentrate enough to understand the words he was speaking, but by the time he was done, the electricity had stopped.

“All right…” Alfor said, and was unbuckling his sword belt. He’d throw it to one of the guards standing outside my cell, the man fumbling in his attempt to catch it. “You want out so badly? Then all you have to do is get past me.”

The electricity had stopped zapping me, but my anger remained. I didn’t understand why I was no longer being hurt by the device in my arm, but I seized upon Alfor’s words. I didn’t stop to question him, to find out the hows and whys of what he offered. I just lunged towards him, fingers going for his throat. It was a killing move I intended, my claws ready to tear out this arrogant human’s throat.

I don’t know what happened, Alfor not only stopping my murderous attack, but hauling me forward by my wrists. His leg came up, knee slamming into my stomach and still I struggled. Alfor would let go of my wrists, backhanding me across the face the second I straightened. I didn’t go down from that alone, enduring at least five more vicious blows to the face, including one that cause my lip to split.

It ended with me on the floor, Alfor looming over my body, as he knelt down besides me. He grabbed me by my hair, jerking on it painfully. “You may be able to bully and intimidate some people. You may even be able to hurt a few people. But it’s nothing compared to how I’ll hurt you if you don’t start making some improvements to your attitude.”

I was groaning, in too much pain to properly respond. I could barely focus, Alfor’s face blurring before my eyes. He’d make a disgusted sound, and practically throw me away from him. I’d hit the wall, and slump gratefully down, already struggling not to pass out. It was another battle I would lose, the blackness coming over me downright merciful as I lost consciousness

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