But I was a Drule. We didn’t have much use for softness aside from the gentle caresses and lush bodies of our women. Violence was our way of life, a language that spoke to our blood. It infuriated me that I could not best Alfor with just my fists, even as I was reluctantly impressed at the ease in which he put me down. I might even respect him if I wasn’t so angry, so defiant against the fate Alfor would force on me.
That fate walked into the room just as a nurse was securing cloth bandages around my torso. My ribs while bruised and fractured, had fortunately not been broken. It was a testament to how stern a stuff we Drules are made of, even a half breed such as I. But if Alfor had been a Drule, I might very well have been in intensive care, with far worse damage than the soreness and the pain of my injured ribs.
It wasn’t just my ribs that bothered me. Somewhere, in the small of my back, I had a burn from the laser that had been shot into me. The soldier who had done it, had set his weapon to as powerful a stun as possible, another few notches of intensity, and it would have killed me. Not only had it disintegrated the shirt’s fabric on my back, but it had burnt an ugly purplish red welt that required a cold compress be kept on it.
There was a few cuts on my faces, my split lip already on the mend. No doubt the rings Alfor wore on his hand, had been the cause of those particular injuries. The upper portion of my one arm was also bandaged, but that wasn’t a result of anything Alfor had done. In my despair, my nails had cut and bled the skin, though I hadn’t had the courage to attempt to slice deep enough to dig out the subduing device.
I was in what the humans would call a sorry state, and even Allura had cause for pause as she stepped into the room. I saw her face pale of all color, her anger leaving her eyes as she looked at me. The nurse continued her work, making sure the cloth bandages would stay in place, and give my ribs the support they required to heal.
Allura had only taken a few steps into the bedroom, the anger that propelled her now gone, leaving her frozen in shock at the sight of me. I’d lock eyes with her, my look almost challenging as I waited for her to speak. She’d open and close her mouth several times, before finally deciding on a statement.
“Avok did this to you!”
Instantly I bristled, the nurse admonishing me for my sudden movements. I ignored her, instead snapping at Allura, “What? No!”
Allura didn’t seem to acknowledge what I had said, taking a shaky step forward. I retained my insult, not wanting Allura, anyone, to think Avok had gotten the better of me. It was a matter of pride, and though I wasn’t happy to have fallen victim to Alfor’s fists, the Arusian King was an infinitely more worthy opponent than Avok could ever hope to be.
“This was your father’s doing.” I announced, stopping my wince as the nurse pulled the bandages tighter. “All of it.”
“My father?!” gasped Allura, eyes going wider with new shocks. It was then that I realized Allura had no idea what had happened, that I had tried to escape from the castle, and that her father had then retaliated in a most painful way.
“What….why?” Allura finally asked, still looking like she didn’t believe Alfor capable of what had been done to me.
“Why do you think?” I demanded gruffly, the nurse at last done with the bandages. She was a much older woman, her hair completely silver, her face wrinkled from a lifetime of smiles. The nurse didn’t try to linger, didn’t try to make up some excuse so as to remain and listen to the exchange between Allura and I. Instead she would pack up her things, only pausing to address the princess.
“He’s going to be hurting for the next few days.” She reached into her bag, and pulled out a bottle of pills. I had already been giving two, though they had yet to kick in. “Make sure he takes no more than six a day, no matter how much he complains.”
Bemused, Allura took the pill bottles from the older woman. “I understand.”
“His back has an awful burn.” continued the nurse. “You’ll want to keep an eye on it, changing the compress every hour for the remainder of the day. Also, you’ll want to keep the burn area clean, and to rub in this ointment.”
More things were handed to Allura, the princess nodding repeatedly, though she made no move to follow the nurse to the door. The nurse would smile, and bow to us both, before leaving, the door shutting behind her. Allura would look down at the items in her hands, her brow furrowing in confusion.
“The burn was caused by a laser set too high on it’s stun setting.” I tell her to break the silence. “I’d have a talk with your men….any higher, and I’d be dead.”
Allura slowly blinked, the shock and confusion seeming to lift from her. In their place was suspicion, Allura glaring at me. “And just why would any one try to stun you like that?”
“I’ve given them plenty of reason to hate me.” I spoke causally, shrugging my shoulders as though it didn’t matter. I immediately grimaced, my ribs making their discomfort known. “Today’s little incident was just the excuse some of them were waiting for….”
Her fingers suddenly tightened on the pill bottle, Allura’s glare deepening. “Because of what you did to Avok?”
“Heavens no! I doubt they like him any more than me.” I said. “No. This? This was because I tried to leave the castle.”
“You mean you tried to escape?”
“Does that really surprise you?” I asked.
“No, it does not.” She muttered, than gave me a fierce look. “Never mind that you tried to leave….what did you do to my cousin?!”
“Nothing?!” She scoffed. “He’s in the hospital because of you!”
“I didn’t lay a finger on him.”
“He had to have seven stitches in his hand, and is doped up on pain medication!” Allura snapped. I knew my look was as unrepentant as I felt. “He is going to have to have physical therapy, and just might have long lasting repercussions from what you did to his hand!”
“I’m sure I’d be in no better state, if I had allowed Avok to hit me like he intended.”
Allura ignored that, to question me instead. “How did you do it Lotor?” She demanded, pocketing the pills and ointment. “How did you ignore the subduing device long enough to hurt my cousin so badly?”
The smile I gave her was gloating then. “I merely stepped out of Avok’s way. Your cousin took care of the rest.” I wanted to laugh then, to revel in my triumph though I took care to keep from revealing to her I had learned if I kept my anger in check, I could keep from being shocked.
“Stepped out of the way?” She frowned. “What does that mean.”
“He was going to hit me Allura. Is it my fault, I moved to avoid that, and that in that avoidance, he instead slammed his fist into the bar?”
She looked sick then. “You….”
“Should I have stood still for the beating he was going to give me?” I asked. “Should I have allowed that maniac to lay hands on me, if there was a way I could avoid it?”
“Considering the way you goaded him into it, YES!” She snapped, glaring even as she was ill.
“Goaded him?” I scoffed. “I did no such thing.”
“Oh really?” Allura asked, and stalked towards the bed. She didn’t lose that fierce glare, hands all but fists at her side as she approached me. The color was returning to her face, her eyes sparking with her unrestrained fury. Such a sight had me sitting up, ignoring the protesting pains at my movement.
“Then I suppose..” Allura all but hissed, eyes on me as she reached my side of the bed. “You didn’t say anything about inappropriate desires, or that you didn’t insinuate things about what I would do with you?”
“I might have mentioned one or two things…” I admitted in a casual tone designed to further infuriate her.
“One or two things!?” She scoffed then. “Lotor, you fabricated a very potent picture for my cousin. You lied to him about desires I don’t have.”
“I wasn’t stretching the truth all that much.” I caught her by the wrist before Allura could connect the slap she threw at my face. “I may have been embellishing certain things, but the fact is you do have those desires.”
Impossible though it seemed, her blue eyes turned even angrier. “I most certainly do not!”
“You had them that night in the garden.” I pointed out with satisfaction, not letting go of her wrist.
“A mistake, one I learned from.” Allura insisted, cheeks flaming at my mocking laugh.
“And I am to believe you can just switch them off whenever you feel like it?” I ask her, and glaring, she nods emphatically. “Now who is lying?”
Allura tried to jerk her arm back, but I refused to relinquish my grip. “I don’t know why you doubt.” She seethed. “It’s not as though you aren’t able to turn on and off your desires….”
“I never claimed that.” I hold her gaze with my own stare, knowing if my pain was just a little more manageable, I would have proceeded to show her just how futile it was to fight against desire. “I’m just better at not letting desire control me so completely.”
Her look is bitter then. “I suppose it’s because you have had enough practice where sex is concerned.”
“Yes. But desire isn’t always just about the act of sex.”
“Yes, I understand that now.” Her bitter look remained. “Your desire that night was about securing what you needed to blackmail my parents into giving into your demands.”
I couldn’t entirely deny it, knowing that even if Allura had been plain or ugly, I would have seduced her anyway. “It wasn’t all feigned…” I said at last. “I am attracted to you.”
“Yes, because I have big breasts and lips you want around your…” Abruptly I let go of her wrist, Allura almost falling backwards to the floor. I growled while she righted her stumble, shaking my head no in an almost violent fashion.
“Stop throwing those words against me.”
“Why should I?” Allura demanded. “That’s all you see when you look at me, isn’t it? Someone with the physical traits that appeal to you…it doesn’t matter who I am. Anyone would do.”
I couldn’t exactly deny it, shifting though my discomfort had nothing to do with my injuries and everything to do with the accusations Allura had thrown at me.
“We’re all but strangers to each other.” I finally said, trying to ignore the wounded look she gave me. “Not knowing the person you’ve become, of course I have to rely on the physical to fuel my desires.”
“And whose fault is that, that we are strangers to each other?” Allura asked. “It was not I who stopped all communication between us.”
“I told you…the letters were lost…”
“Yes, I’m sure that’s just another lie on your part.” She fixed me with a look that was as shrewd as it was pain filled. “Was any of that night not a lie?”
I could only shrug in response. She did not break down, though Allura seemed incapable of losing that wounded look in her eyes.
“I was a fool.” She finally said. “My father is right. I should have known better.”
“It is a mistake many young girls make….”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?!” Allura demanded. “To do what so many others have done, and still do…” She shook her head no. “I am royalty, the heir to an entire world. Not only should I have known better, I should have acted it!”
“You are being too hard on yourself….”
“Or not hard enough!” She snapped. “I let my own feelings, my own desires and inexperience with it blind me to the situation at hand. It let me believe your lies, let me actually think you LOVED me. I am disgusted with myself over how stupidly I behaved.”
“You believed what I wanted you to believe…” I pointed out.
“I made it easier for you to get what you wanted that night.” Allura retorted. “I helped you to ruin both our lives….”
“It wasn’t suppose to be such a complete ruin.” I muttered. “I was doing what I could to save Arus…to save your family in my own way.”
“To save us…?” It was then that I realized Allura didn’t really know the reasons behind all that I had done, these last few weeks hectic and spent apart from each other. What time we did spend together, had been spent on arguing and my failed attempts to get sex from Allura. Never had I tried to truly explain myself to her, and I slapped a hand over my face to muffle my shocked laughter.
“Lotor!” She snapped, scowling now. I let out a few more guffaws of laughter, before I was able to speak properly.
“I’m sure it won’t make much difference, It hasn’t to your parents.” That has me sober immediately, a sigh escaping me. “But it wasn’t all greed and ambition that moved me.”
The look Allura flashes me is skepticism at it’s best. I nearly sigh again in response to it, feeling so weary in the moment. Was it the pain medication kicking in, or was I tired of trying to explain myself, especially so close on the heels of my attempt to do just that with Diana.
There was no need to mince words, my look tired as I spoke. “How aware are you of the situation between Doom and Arus?”
“We’ve always held a tentative peace. Even now after your attempts to shatter it….”
“Is that the limit of your knowledge?” I ask. and she bristled.
“Of course not. I know how certain overly ambitious Drules would invade Arus if given half a chance!”
“But I am not the Drule you should be worried about.” I told her. “My father has long coveted Arus. Has long wanted to take this world and use it and it’s people till nothing is left.”
“And you thought to help him?” Allura demanded.
“Help him? Heavens no!” I shook my head. “That was the furthest from my mind when I attempted to gain control of your planet. Allura, are you aware if Zarkon has his way, you and your family, not just your parents, but every last one of your blood would be tortured and killed in as gruesome a fashion as possible?”
She turned pale at the mere thought. “But why?”
“It’s the standard procedure of my father when taking a new world. Eliminate all ties to the throne, let their defiled corpses be warning to those who would rise up against the Drule Empire. I’ve seen him done this over a dozen times, and I would be damned thrice over before I let him do this to your family!”
Troubled, Allura spoke almost hesitantly. “We are strong. It’s that strength that kept Doom in check.”
“I’m becoming aware of just how impressive a strength Arus possesses.” I grudgingly admitted. “But it doesn’t leave me convinced that Arus can keep Zarkon away forever. All he needs is one win, some advantage or trick to destroy that strength, and Arus would be his. ”
She shivered then, Allura raising her arms to hug herself. I thought that reaction interesting, thinking it was almost as though Allura wasn’t as confidant as her mother and father were about Arus’ power. I could have, should have preyed on those fears, but I think the medicine really was beginning to affect me in that moment.
“Why would you even care?” Allura finally asked. “Why would you even bother with us?”
The look I gave her was reproachful. “You think me so cold, so unfeeling? But I spent several summers here on Arus. Your family was more a family to me than my own, especially once my mother passed.”
She looked chastised then, and I wondered what thoughts surfaced inside her.
“I will not see any of you, Diana, Alfor, hell even Avok tortured then killed for my father’s amusement.” I snorted then, the sound a rueful chuckle. “Did you know when my father allowed me to come to Arus, it wasn’t out of any good will or desire to promote a better understanding between our people. It was for the opportunity he saw, the chance for me to find and betray Arus’ secrets. Yes, Allura…even then he was looking for Arus’ weaknesses.” Another chuckle. “He never dreamed his scheme would backfire, that instead Arus and it’s people, that your family would impress upon me such devotion.”
I waited for her to say something, and when Allura did not, I prodded at her. Troubled as she was, she still flashed me an annoyed look, dropping her arms out of the hug.
“Such devotion…” She mocked. “Is that what you’re going to claim moved you to use me in such a way?”
“You were part of a plan that would minimize the losses incurred in the taking of Arus. I would be able to safely remove you and your family, and preserve the planet, keep Arus from my father’s corruption.”
“How am I to believe anything you say?” Allura demanded. “How after the lies of that night? For all I know, you could be attempting to play me once more.”
“What would I gain from telling you this truth?”
“I’m sure there is something.” She muttered. “But I won’t be played a fool again. Those summers, while sweet at first, soon soured as you grew tired of me as your playmate. You didn’t care for me then, and you don’t now. You only want to use me in whatever way you can, be it to take over the planet, or to scratch the itch desire has on you. Well, Lotor? I won’t be your fool. Not anymore!”
Actions just as abrupt asn her words, she turned away from me, ignoring my attempts to draw her back into the conversation. I was left with no choice but to watch Allura retreat, the door slamming shut behind her. The talk I had earlier with Diana echoed in my mind. I was remembering things the Queen had said, the words she had spoken about the hurt I had done Allura. Diana had said I had not only hurt her, I had shattered Allura’s ability to trust in others, not to mention ruin her belief in love. I was seeing first hand her new inability to trust, Allura rightfully suspicious of the things I had told her. But I didn’t know how to repair the damage I had done, nor was I sure I wanted to try. Not when I still desired to use Allura, to use anything, anyone at my disposal to get my way.