The robeast slowly stomped it’s way towards the Castle of Lions, seeking to attack it’s all too vulnerable rear. It was currently making it’s way through the ravine, intending to climb up the cliff side. It might be an odd vantage point for attack, but the forces of Doom had tried many times before the head on approach from the forest, and had failed. It was time to add a little variety in their plans.
Parked atop the craggy rock surface of the ravine, was Lotor’s ship. With wine goblet in one hand, he stood by the window pane, watching the robeast’s progress with his own eyes. “Hagger! What’s taking so long?”
“Patience, young highness!” She hurried to his side. “They will come out soon enough.”
“They better.” Lotor said. “Or else my robeast will crush them where they hide! Cowering little insects! Take away the power of the lions, and suddenly they don’t know what to do!”
“They have grown weak with their easy victories…soft and compliant in their all too fragile freedom…” agreed Hagger. “They have all but forgotten what it is like to fight on their own merits.” She cackled. “They’re about to get a harsh reminder! They will learn first hand how easily breakable bones can become, how flesh can be torn without the protection of Alfor’s cursed armor!”
“And then, Arus and Allura will be mine!” Lotor took a sip of his Tyrusian brandy. “It will happen soon enough…either they face my clone head on, or the robeast will crush them in their holes. Either way, I win!” He broke out into laughter. Hagger laughed too, though she felt a twinge of disappointment over the thought of not getting to see the clone in action.
“There is movement in the river!” One of the crewman shouted excitedly.
“Good!” Lotor turned from the window. “Bring it up on the viewscreen.” Naturally Hagger had infused the ship with magics to be immune from the robeast’s disrupter waves. “Magnify the image to 79.5 percent.”
The river, a mere line beforehand, quickly grew in size, soon filling the entire screen with it’s rippling blue surface. And there beneath the swirls and current, was a dark shadow, moving rapidly, just beneath the surface.
“A fish perhaps?” suggested Hagger.
“No…it’s the length of a human.” pointed out Lotor.
“It could just be a really big fish.” She insisted.
“No, it’s one of THEM.” Lotor said. “I KNOW it is! My gut instinct screams out to me, it is one of those wretched pilots!”
“Looks like your instincts are right!” Hagger exclaimed, as a red and white helmeted head broke through the surface.
“Look who’s the first to greet us!” Lotor grinned with anticipation. “Captain Keith Akira! I couldn’t be more delighted!”
“The brave fool will be the first to die!” hissed Hagger. “Lotor! Tell your clone to take him out! He’ll learn how foolish it is to think he can face one of my robeasts all alone!”
“Clone! I command you!” Lotor ordered his clone via the mind link. “Gut him like the fish he pretends to be!”
The clone, who had been riding atop the robeast’s shoulder, smiled viciously. “At last! Some action! I was beginning to think they were all cowards!” He put on a pair of bino-goggles, searching out his target. “Only one?” He scowled, feeling cheated. He felt he could take on a hundred men at once! “Very well then. This eager young lad will have the honor of being the first to die!”
He gripped the spear in both hands, point downwards, tracking the swimmer’s movements. “It’s over!” he screamed, as he threw the spear with lethal accuracy at it’s mark.
“This is just great, Keith!” The young captain thought to himself. “You were so busy showing off what a hot shot you are, you rushed out of the castle without any semblance of a plan! Now WHAT are you going to do?” He cautiously poked his head out of the water, staring in dismay at the robeast. “That thing is HUGE! Forget about stopping him–how am I even gonna get his attention?!”
A muffled whistling sound just barely alerted him to the attack. Turning, Keith saw the jagged edge of the spear barreling towards his face. “Shit!” He screamed, ducking underwater. With only seconds to react, he made a desperate grab at the sled, and braced it before him as a shield.
The spear slashed through the metal as though it was cheap plastic. The sled was ruined, and the spear stopped…barely. The point had almost made it completely through, managing to slice open his right cheek. Seeing the water around his face dilute in color, he realized just how lucky he had been to survive.
Tossing aside the ruined sled, he began paddling for the shore, not daring to break to the surface. He’d have to eventually…and whatever had tossed that spear, would be waiting for him…
“I…missed?!” exclaimed the clone incredulously, as his bino-goggles showed the human still swam. “No…I got him…” He smirked, seeing the spear emerged, along slightly reddish water, and the wreckage of the pilot’s apparatus.
“Hmmm…” The clone felt a flicker of interest in this pilot. “He may prove a challenge after all!” He leaped off the robeast’s shoulder, landing on it’s right hand. Pushing off, he hit the hip, only to rebound onto the left knee, before somersaulting onto the ground. He landed in a crouch, just where the water washed up onto the soft ground.
A hand emerged from the river, scrabbling for purchase. It found it, finger’s sinking into the moist sand, as another hand joined it. He was just straightening out, when Keith’s face emerged.
“Lotor!” He gasped, staring up at the evil Prince. Lotor didn’t reply, his lips twisted into a smirk, as he reached up, removing the bino-goggles.
“I thought you only sent robeasts to do your fighting!” Keith hissed, pushing back into the water.
“Why do you run?” demanded the clone, pushing back his hair from his face. “Are you that much of a coward?”
“COWARD?!” Keith bristled in anger. “You’re the coward, Lotor! Always sending others to do your dirty work!”
“Well, I’m here now.” The clone tossed the bino-goggles onto the ground. “Come out and fight me!”
“No way!” protested Keith, moving out to deeper waters. “Think I don’t know your game, demented prince? You just want me to get close enough so you can hold my head down, and drown me!”
“With such irrational fear, how did he ever even manage to leave the castle?” The clone muttered.
“I knew he was scared of me!” Lotor sounded ecstatic with triumph. “Our two battles must have affected him more deeply than I thought!”
“Send the clone in after him.” advised Hagger. “It’s not as though he’s water resistant.”
“I was just getting to that.” Lotor gave her a withering look.
“If you don’t come out, I’ll go in after you.” The clone’s smile was getting creepier by the second to Keith.
“Fine, fine!” I’m coming up…just…just move away a bit from the shore.” Keith snapped.
With a loud sigh of exasperation, the clone moved away as requested. “Now…” He said, hands on hip, foot tapping impatiently. “No more excuses!”
“Okay…” Keith looked doubtfully at his arch-nemesis. “I’m coming…HEY!!”
Suddenly, Lotor turned and darted out into the water. Keith began paddling out of the way, before realizing Lotor hadn’t come anywhere near him. Instead the Prince plucked the spear out of the water, and turned towards Keith.
Cursing up a storm, Keith lurched out of the water, scrambling onto the river bank.
“Thought this would make you feel more at ease!” The prince shouted, smirking gleefully.
“GAH!” Keith attempted to crawl away, as once again the spear was hurled straight at him.
White as a sheet, Keith stared at the spear that was planted firmly in the ground–right between his legs, a mere centimeter away from his crotch. He became aware of Lotor’s laughter, and his face burnt red with shame.
“LOTOR! YOU’LL PAY!” He leaped to his feet, yanking the spear out of the ground.
“Such a jumpy, DELICATE thing you are!” The clone’s eyes danced in amusement. “How did you ever get to be Arus’ so called greatest warrior?”
“YARGH!!” He was almost beyond speech, so full of fury at the moment. Keith ran at Lotor, swinging the spear around to chop off his grinning head.
Lotor neatly avoided it, still laughing all the while. “I see the playing field has not been evened out with the allowance of your having a weapon.”
“SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” Turning, Keith struck again, and again, never coming anywhere close to harming the clone.
The clone was having an increasingly hard time holding in his amusement at the pilot’s feeble attempts at murder. “THIS is what has been giving Doom such a hard time?!”
“That’s right!” hissed Keith, thinking the clone was talking to him. “Allow me to introduce you to one of ’em!” He brought up his fist, intending to give Lotor a hard right in the nose.
Lotor caught him by the wrist, easily stopping him. Growling, Keith’s left hand brought up the spear, and Lotor yanked it out of his grip.
“ARGH!!” Keith tried to hit him with his now empty left hand. In reply, Lotor applied pressure to the right, the bones making creaking noises, as they slowly began to snap. “As I had been saying…” The clone smirked, as he wrenched out another scream from Keith with a small squeeze.
The young captain was weak with pain, his eyes tearing, as his legs gave out, unable to support him. But he did not fall. Instead, Lotor held him up, using the hand he was ruining to keep him aloft. It was all Keith could do to remain conscious, the pain was unbearable. He had never been truly tortured before, and clearly did not have what it took to last long, if he was having such an extreme reaction to a broken wrist. Indeed his whole right arm screamed in protest, and he blindly reached out with his left hand, alternating between trying to claw Lotor’s arms, and push the demonic prince away.
As for the prince, it seemed he was no longer aware of the young man, the squeezes he gave him, a mere after thought. Even his eyes were distant, staring off into the beyond, while he muttered to himself. “How has this youth been responsible for holding back our advance?” demanded the clone.
“He hasn’t. Not without help.” replied Lotor. “He’s always in that suit of armor of his, the lion mecha. He rarely fights without it, and when he does, he doesn’t rely on his own strength, but on guns.”
“Doesn’t take much skill to pull a trigger.” The clone sounded disgusted.
“Exactly what I was thinking!” grinned Lotor. “So be done with it, and finish him. But be sure he’s dead. That’s been my mistake in previous dealings. I left him to bleed to death, and always some interfering twit came along to his rescue.”
“Bah! Killing is too good for the likes of this space trash!” sniffed the clone. “He should be allowed to live…suffer by living through the humiliation of his defeat.”
“That’s how I used to think, and it’s bought me nothing but trouble.” Lotor sighed, knowing how true his words were. “Just kill him.”
“I will not dirt my hands with this…this spineless little mouse’s blood!” He tossed Keith from him, the space explorer sailing through the air, to crash back first into some large rocks. “I think I will go after a more favorable, more worthy opponent.”
“It’s not your job to THINK!!” shouted Lotor. “Hagger! DO something!”
“I…I don’t know what to do!” She cried, dismayed at this turn of events.
“Listen you sub par waste of excrement DNA cells!” hissed Lotor. “I MADE you!”
“Uh actually…” Hagger’s timid protests were cut off by a murderous glare from her evil liege.
“Without me, you’re nothing!” Lotor continued. “Now you go and finish off that broken doll of a man, just like you killed those two insignificant soldiers, or I will have my robeast come back and stomp you to death!”
“NO!!” growled the clone. “You don’t tell me what to do–NOT ANYMORE!! I’m stronger than you, faster, smarter, Mother Hagger has ensured that I would become your better!”
“Everything you are, is because of me!” shouted Lotor, his face twisted into a mask of pure fury. “Without my memories, my experiences, the knowledge gained throughout years of living, you wouldn’t even know how to pick your blasted nose!”
“And I thank you for that Lotor!” The clone admitted. “But I do not owe you anything! I’ve surpassed my teacher, and now…it is my turn to shine! Come after me, and I will KILL YOU!!”