Except for the hum of the ship’s powerful engines, and the click clack of fingers flying over a keyboard, the bridge of the Doom ship was quiet. Occasionally someone would issue a deep sigh of boredom, or a nervous cough but then silence would resume. Hagger didn’t blame them for their discontentment, even she was beginning to yearn for something to happen. That was the bad thing about having a seemingly impossible to beat robeast…it left the crew onboard the ship with little to do, except watch and wait.
And the waiting had long since grown past tedious. The witch was beginning to tire of watching her latest creation walk towards the Castle of Lions at what seemed a snail’s pace. She yearned for some sort of diversion, something to do, or someone to gloat over. She looked over at Lotor, who sat slumped in his command chair, his feet propped up on the control panel before him. His eyes were clouded with anger, his lower lip jutting out in a pout, fingering a dagger as he stared at an empty spot on the wall.
Sullen and rude, even more so than usual, the Prince refused to talk about exactly what had happened when he had confronted the clone. Or for that matter, what form of rejection his latest encounter with Allura had taken.
“Prince Lotor…Hagger…” A technician said, the sudden sound of his voice startling the witch. She glanced at Lotor, who gave no sign of having heard anything, now prying the blade underneath his nails. She shook her head in annoyance, looked at the waiting technician, and snapped, “WELL?!”
“There’s something coming up on radar…”
“Impossible.” Hagger said, her tone dismissive. “With the field set up by the Robeast, nothing can take flight save us. Nor can any weapons be fired to harm it or us.”
“I didn’t say it was a ship.” The man said reproachfully, his unsaid words implying she should have waited for him to have finished. “It is someone or something approaching on foot…”
“We have confirmation that it is indeed several people.” Another man called out.
“It’s probably the foot party we sent out to kill the clone.” Hagger said. “Can we get a visual up on screen?”
The technician nodded, having already turned back to his keyboard. “They will be in camera range in several seconds…” In one corner of the view screen, a small box opened up, the image that of the forest that lined part of the ravine. Right now, they could not see the two figures making their way through the dense foliage,only two blurs of yellow and red–body heat signatures picked up via the infra red sensor’s of the cameras.
“It appears there are only two figures…” Hagger pointed out. “I thought we sent out more men than that.”
“Perhaps they split into parties.” Was the suggestion offered up. “Or perhaps the clone killed some of them off…”
“Just so long as they killed him before returning!” Lotor snarled, the mention of the clone being enough to grabbed hold of his attention. “If not, I will be most creative in punishing them for their failure.”
“Would you settle for them bringing back the clone alive?” asked Hagger, as the two men emerged from the forest, technicians immediately magnifying the image to one hundred times it’s size. They could see but only one Drule soldier, rifle drawn, it’s nozzle in the back of the shirtless clone. The clone, hands cuffed behind his back, walked slowly, head turning every so often to glare angrily at the soldier.
“No…” hissed Lotor, leaping to his feet. “He still lives…”
“A condition that is easily remedied.” Hagger assured him. “Prepare to let them on board…”
“No, kill him now!” snapped Lotor. “Fire the ship’s weapons, and obliterate him! I command you!”
“Wait!” cried out Hagger, and the crew hesitated, glancing back and forth between their prince and the witch.
“What is it, old woman?!” Lotor demanded, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “I thought you wanted him dead.”
“Indeed I do, young sire. However, do remember that I wish to examine the body. If you were to unleash the weapons of this ship on that being, I fear there would not be enough left for me to experiment on.” She explained.
“Hmph. I don’t see why you need to study such an inferior thing.” Lotor grumbled.
“It is that very inferiority that arouses my curiosity” replied Hagger. “I want to know what went wrong with it…why it would not follow orders…”
“I don’t care about any of that. I want to kill him, and kill him now!” shouted Lotor, fingers curling into fists.
“Please Prince Lotor…” Hagger said beseechingly. “Allow me this small favor…you can always kill him once he’s on board…it will be so much more satisfying if you were to personally sink your blade into heart, rather than zap him with a laser…”
“Ah, old woman, you do know how to appeal to my baser instincts…” He smirked. “Very well…I grant permission. But…” Lotor said warningly. “No one gets to kill him but me!”
“Yes Prince Lotor.” Hagger smiled, though to those watching it looked more like a grimace. “Establish contact.”
“Right away ma’am.” One of the technicians set out to work, keying in the various beeps and boops of the Drule’s version of Morse Code. The signal was picked up by the transmitter of the soldier on the ground, and in return, the soldier punched in the correct sequence.
“We have confirmation of identity.” The technician said, satisfied with the response. “Shall I proceed to bring them on board?”
“Yes, yes, yes.” Hagger said impatiently. Lotor nodded, staring intently at the figures on the view screen. A low humming filled the room, as a golden light was sent out, encasing the captive and his guard in a thick beam. The light flickered, and then shone brighter, and the two disappeared, only to reappear on board the ship. The Drule soldier stepped back, dizzy from the unsettling process of transmutation.
“Uh…” The soldier hastily offered up a salute. “Prince Lotor, sir! I have returned with…with the traitor…”
“Yes, I can see that…” His golden eyes were filled with glee, as he gestured the guard towards him with two fingers. “Bring him here.”
“Get a move on…” The soldier said, voice sounding gruff and hoarse. “NOW!!” He barked angrily, prodded Lotor forward with his gun.
“You’ll pay…” The captive Lotor hissed, and his eyes narrowed into a glare. The men nearest to them quickly looked away, trying to repress the shiver of fear that ran down their spine. “All of you…”
“Yeah yeah…quit stalling!” The soldier shoved him forward, and slowly they made their way towards the command dais. Lotor, arms crossed over his chest, was watching with a gloating smile, while Hagger stood a few inches behind him, gripping her staff with one hand.
“My liege…” The soldier said, upon reaching the top step. “Hagger…”
“You’re a little short for a Doom soldier…” Hagger said, staring suspiciously at the small man, the top of his head not quite reaching the shoulders of his captive. “What’s your name…?” She said trying to catch a glimpse of his face. The soldier kept his head bowed–be it respect, or something else, she could not know for sure. What she did know though, was that the visor of his helmet was down, covering his eyes, and leaving the lower half of his face in shadows. “Your name boy!” She barked again. “Who are you?!
“What does it matter, so long as this little one caught us our prey…” The Prince said, putting a temporary end to this exchange. Eyes locked on his clone, Lotor strode forward, closing the small gap between them.. “Well…” There was a smirk on his lips, as he looked over his mirror image. “I see we meet again. And this time you won’t survive the encounter.”
The captive Lotor’s eyes were filled with utter contempt for the man before him. “You speak so boldly now, when before you behaved as a coward would.” He calmly said in reply to the other’s threat. “I take it you no longer feel like running from me, now that you have others around for protection?”
The other Lotor let out a sharp intake of breath, sounding very much like a hissing snake. “You dare mock me?!” His golden eyes narrowed, and he roughly gripped his twin by the chin, bruising the skin beneath his fingers with the force of his grip. “Here? Now? When I can easily snuff out your life with a mere twist of your neck?”
“You can do that, yes…” He agreed. “However, I will still have the satisfaction of knowing you couldn’t beat me in a fair fight.”
“Pah!” He released his grip, shoving his clone away from him. “You seek to goad me into doing something foolish…” He smirked. “I will not be freeing you from your constraints for one last duel. You die now…” He held up the dagger, it’s curved metal blade glinting as it reflected the over head lights. “And as you take your last breath…” His voice lowered to a whisper. “I have the satisfaction of knowing while I couldn’t have her, neither will you!” The arm holding the dagger, suddenly came down in a stabbing motion, and he dimly registered a female gasping in horror.
“You know…” The shirtless Lotor said, muscles straining as he broke free of his cuffs. “You talk too much!” He caught hold of the hand that held the dagger in a two fisted grip, struggling to keep the blade from driving into his skin.
“I’m surprised you had the strength to get free!” cried the other Lotor, free hand grabbing at some of his opponent’s silky hair. “You there! Don’t just stand there, do something!” He yelled at the guard who had escorted Lotor onto the ship. He then heard Hagger shriek, “You fool, you’ll hit them both!” Sparing a glance at the short soldier, he was chagrined to see him aiming the rifle at both of them.
“Hagger, stop him!” He commanded, the two Lotor’s never ceasing in their struggle for even one-second. Hagger let loose with an energy blast from her staff, forcing the soldier to dodge, just as he pulled the trigger. Neither laser nor magic hit their intended target, Hagger’s voice screaming curses in the back ground, while the soldier dropped the rifle, it’s nuzzle melted by Hagger’s spell.
“Idiot…” He muttered, still trying to drive the point of the dagger into Lotor’s chest. “First he doesn’t make sure your cuffs are secure…” He was gratified to see the metal pierce Lotor’s flesh. “And then he almost shoots me! It’s a wonder he even managed to capture you at all…” His eyes widened as he came to a realization. “Unless you wanted to get caught…”
“You get points for trying…” Lotor gritted his teeth, pushing the dagger away from him, a thin trickle of blood oozing down his chest. “But you still haven’t been able to figure it out entirely…”
“You had help?!” He said accusingly, stumbling upon another piece of the puzzle.
“Of the very best kind!” Lotor then brought up his knee, and slammed it between the other Lotor’s legs. The Drule let out a loud moan of pain, the force behind the stabbing dagger losing some of it strength. Lotor managed to shove his look alike away, although the hand gripping the dagger did not drop it. Before he could even think of his next move, a powerful blast of energy hit him in the back.
“On your knees!” cackled Hagger, staff pointed at him. His body was enveloped by misty white energy, and against his wishes, he felt his knees start to bend. “Prince Lotor, shall I kill him for you?!”
“Hagger you idiot!” muttered the magiked Lotor. “I’m the real Lotor!”
“Leave him alone!” A very female voice cried. The short soldier ran forward, and swung the ruined rifle at Hagger’s head. It connected, and only because of Hagger’s magically amplified stamina, did the witch not fall unconscious. “YOU!!” The witch bellowed, turning to glare hatefully at the soldier. “I should have known!” The helmet dropped to the floor, revealing the face that had driven many a male mad with desire, including a certain prince.
“Should have known what, old witch?” demanded Allura, holding the rifle like it was club.
“When you refused to give your name!” hissed the witch. “Any other Drule would have been eager to claim fame and recognition for the capture…but not a spy like you!” Her free hand suddenly swiped out at Allura, fingernails just missing the princess’ face. “And it’s your fault the clone went berserk, ISN’T it?!”
“I think he was crazy long before I ever came on the scene…” Allura said, backing nervously away from Hagger.
“You charmed him with your feminine wiles!” continued Hagger, hatred in her eyes. “Corrupted him like you did the prince…that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? You thought to use my creation against us!”
“Hagger, you are twisting everything about! And that isn’t the clone, but the real Lotor!” Allura shouted at the incensed witch.
While the two women argued, another fight was occurring on the dais. With Hagger distracted, her spell on Lotor had faded away, and he immediately charged toward the clone. “That was a dirty trick!” The clone said, his privates still aching.
“You’re one to talk after all you’ve done!” retorted the shirtless Lotor, eyeing the dagger his clone held. There was no hesitation on the clone’s part, he pressed forward with his advantage. “Yah!” He threw a punch with one hand, the other hoping to get the dagger into the side of Lotor’s neck. The prince didn’t fall for the trap, instead of dodging into the path of the blade, he turned slightly, allowing the punch to land against a shoulder. His shoulder protesting against the pain, he stepped on the clone’s foot, and completed the turn, hand reaching for the one that held the dagger. He clamped his fingers around the clone’s wrist, giving a vicious wrench of the arm, as he twisted it behind the clone’s back.
Growling angrily, the clone tried to reach behind him with his free hand, trying to slap Lotor senseless. It was then that the angry Hagger managed to knock Allura down, the princess roughly hitting the floor, the result of a stun spell. “Hagger stop!!” Lotor commanded.
“Lotor, what…” Hagger whirled around, bringing her staff to aim at the two Lotor’s. “Let him go!” She snapped, seeing the shirtless Lotor holding onto the fully clothed clone. “Or else SHE dies…!”
“Don’t be an idiot witch!” snapped Lotor, straining to keep his hostage under control. “If you kill Allura, I will kill you!”
“…” She kept her staff focused at the two Lotor’s, still hesitating. “If you kill Zarkon’s son, my life won’t be worth anything!”
“You dimwitted old woman, if you kill him, you will be killing Zarkon’s only heir!” Allura cried out, unable to move, trying to fight the strong feelings of lethargy the spell had forced on her.
“Don’t listen to them!” shouted the captive clone. “They would say anything to save themselves!”
“Hagger, surely you have a way of telling the two apart?” Allura’s eyelids fluttered rapidly, the princess managing to give a slight shake of her head. “Some scientific means in case of a mix up?”
“…” Hagger was silent, appearing to consider the young woman’s words.
“I’m the real Lotor!” shouted the clone, and with a sudden burst of adrenaline, he managed to free himself from Lotor’s grip. The dagger dropped to the floor.”I’ll be the only Lotor that matters once you’re dead!” He turned around, and grabbed hold of Lotor’s arms, dragging him to the edge of the dais.
“What are you doing asshole?!” demanded Lotor, trying to pull free. “We’re not high enough to do any fatal damage!”
“Lotor!” Allura cried out, her voice stronger now. “Why isn’t anyone doing anything?!”
“They’re not fools.” Hagger said, eyes fixed on the struggling Lotor’s. “They know who ever survives will be by all rights the new Crown Prince of Doom…it would be suicide to offer help to one who might prove to be the loser…”
“But..that’s…horrible…” Allura murmured, recalling Lotor’s words of how he feared his father might look to replace him with the clone.
“No, it’s natural selection.” retorted Hagger grimly. She knew that if the clone was the victor, all would agree to never speak of what had happened this day–and to those who would not, she would take care of them personally. Few if any would ever risk allowing Zarkon to learn that his son had died while they stood idly by. She didn’t even want to think about what Zarkon would do if he found out it was a creation of hers that prove the instrument of Lotor’s demise.
The clone let out a low chuckle of laughter, eyeing the floor just a few feet down from where they stood. “NO!” Lotor cried out, seeing his cursed twin’s intent. “Yes…” whispered the clone in reply to Lotor’s horror. He then shoved Lotor forward, and one of the prince’s feet touched air, his arms flailing for something to grab onto. The clone let out a gasp, as Lotor’s fingers found purchase around his wrists.
“You’ll drag us both to our death!!” He screamed, trying to keep from being pulled forward. “LET GO OF ME!!”
“Not until I’m dead!” shouted Lotor, trying to simultaneously stay on the dais, and knock his clone off. The clone’s eyes were wide with panic, as one foot left the safety of solid ground. “I…” He let out a scream as Lotor gave one last heave, and shoved him off the dais, the clone thinking too late to grab hold of the prince.
Down he tumbled, slamming into the ship’s back up power auxiliary. The casing around the large motor splintered and cracked, sparks shooting up, electrical currents coursing throughout the clone’s body. But he was beyond feeling that, focused instead on the dull ache in his back, the blood pooling out and down from his wound…over the metal stake he had imbedded himself on–the same fate he had planned for Lotor.
It wasn’t really a stake, but the rounded top of one of several inoperative pistons, it’s edge being blunt enough to have kept from going through the clone’s body. The clone stared at Lotor with unfocused eyes, his vision blurring and dimming, and with one last gasp of pain fell silent.
Lotor stared down at his own face, watching as it’s eyes closed in death, it’s body stiffening. First thought to be settling into rigor mortis, it turned out it was dissolving…turning back into the bubbles it had started out as…He stared in grim fascination, watching as clone turned into a liquid mess, no trace of him remaining except for a bloody uniform.
The real Prince of Doom was the one to break the deathly quietness that had fallen over everyone on board the bridge. “Now do you believe I am the real Lotor, old witch?” He said this ironically, placing his hands on his hips, and arching an eyebrow.
“Oh Prince Lotor…forgive me…” Hagger said, slowly walking towards him. Allura breathed a sigh of relief, having recovered enough to push herself up to a sitting position, while Hagger babbled on, trying to excuse what she had done. “I..it…it is not hard to see why I did what I did…he was just so convincing…although I guess I should have been surprised when he said he didn’t care if I killed the princess…” Hagger gasped. “The princess!” She whirled around, and aimed her staff at Allura. “Don’t move dearie! You’re Prince Lotor’s prisoner now!”
“Hagger…as always, you have got your facts wrong. I am…” Allura trailed off from her explanation when amused laughter from Lotor was heard. “That’s right Allura…you’re MY prisoner now.” He tossed back his head, the laughter emerging from his lips full of pleasure, with a slight mocking quality to it. Hagger joined in, letting out a few nervous titters at first, before giving full reign to gleeful cackles. Allura’s lips parted, her mouth hanging open in shock, the betrayal she felt showing in her blue eyes.