In the distant future, in a galaxy not far removed from our own, there exists a legend. A tale of an awesome power forged by human hands…a robot made to convey a message of hope, and deliver peace to all people, both good and bad…The robot had grown to be a force reckoned with…it’s name known by all…it’s pilots loved by some, fear by others…
But it was some time before it attained this power…back in the beginning it was merely created to keep a struggling planet freed from oppression. And even then, it was barely all it’s creator could do to keep the balance from tipping into evil’s favor.
And so in desperation, the ruler of the war torn planet issued a challenge to a merciless tyrant. To meet on the battlefield, face to face, with only their blades and the sky above them to witness their duel…
It was fitting that it was a dark and stormy night. The inky black sky made it a suitably creepy atmosphere. The rumbling of the heavens almost draining out the angry words, and cling clang of swords coming together.
The two duelists, both men just past their prime, but still in excellent fighting condition, kept at it for hours. If any had been there to bear witness, they would have seen a deadly dance of intricate moves that could have made a choreographer green with envy.
It reached it’s climax when the man with the heavier build mis-stepped, his opponent’s blade coming perilously close to slicing off his pointed ear. He tried to compensate, bringing the blade towards his enemy’s belly, but his sword was easily parried. The leaner man pressed the advantage, sword rebounding from the block, to twist and return, the flat of the blade slamming hard into the hand that held a sword of it’s own. The grip loosened, but he did not drop his weapon. Not until his legs were kicked out from under him.
Hitting the ground hard, the sword landed next to him, his opponent’s foot coming down on the hilt, holding it there. With a triumphant cry, the victor’s blade was down, slashing open a shirt, another slash drawing blood.
“Do you surrender?!” He demanded, sword poised over the man’s heart.
Lightening flashed, for one moment making the man on the ground’s face clear…He wasn’t human after all, but that of some hybrid species…his skin a blend of dark blue and purple hues…Feline eyes slitted as they glared up at the man before him, a snarl on his lips…But he would not answer…
“I said, do you surrender?!” demanded the man, sword point pressed warningly against the skin of his chest, prepared to seek out a heart to carve into bits.
“…YES!!” The alien finally hissed out. “Yes damn you! I surrender!”
“Then leave here as per the terms of our agreement.” The man said, dropping his sword. But he did not re-sheate it. He wasn’t that trusting of this alien man who had been threatening his kingdom for months now. The alien slowly got to his feet, the two men never taking their eyes off each other.
“I wouldn’t have been so merciful in your place.”
“You think I don’t know that?” The human gave a hoarse sounding chuckle. “I know the type of man you are, all too well. Nothing more than a murderer with money and power, willing to step on all who get in your way.”
“Then kill me.” The alien said. “If you have the stomach for it, you weak little rat!”
“No…It is not my way…I won’t lower myself to your level.” His head bowed as he said this, and the alien moved, intent on grabbing up a rock, knocking him off his feet, and reclaiming his sword. “I wouldn’t!”
With a strangle gasp, the alien froze, the sword dangerously closed to slicing open his throat. “You see…I am not adverse to murder if it’s in self defense.” Angry hissing sounds were the only words he got back in reply. “Now go before I decide your life’s blood on my hands is not that big a price to pay for giving the rest of the galaxy a chance for peace.”
The alien slowly backed away, and when he got a safe distance away, he paused. There was still words to be said. “You’re a fool!” He said, intent on denouncing him, even in the face of his recent loss. “This won’t be the last you hear of me!” A fist was raised, shaken menacingly in the human’s direction. “I’ll make you and your people pay! The indignities I shall force on your wife and unborn brat will pale in comparison to the embarrassment you have forced on me today! Mark my words, all will suffer for this!”
The human refused to be goaded into a reply, and the alien was forced to content himself with having the last reply. Cape swishing in his wake, he strode purposefully away, disappearing into the woods, off in search of his steed. Already he had plans forming…plans of revenge…plans that were in total disregard of the rules of the duel he had just lost. Rules he had sworn to uphold no matter the outcome. No, he could not wait to get back to his ship, and show he was bound by nothing and no one.
The human male stood in that clearing for a while. When at last he was sure that his alien opponent was gone, he risked turning his back. It was time to head back to the castle. His ears picked up the sound of hoof beats pounding hard into the ground. Was that his horse, somehow freed of it’s tether? Or something more sinister? The sound grew louder as the horse approached. His blade flashed in the darkness, ready for who may be riding it.
“Hold!” Came a familiar voice, and he sagged with relief. He was spent after hours of dueling with the alien. He feared he would be no match for a fresh, well rested fighter. “Hold…” The man urged again, slowing the horse to a trot before him.
“Good friend, what brings you here?” He suddenly felt a flash of fear. “Is it…”
“Yes my liege. The Queen…” The horse stopped, and the man jumped down from it’s back.
“Her time has come…” whispered the King, feeling a twinge of pain. He was to be there! “But it’s sooner than we thought…”
“Ah but Erene says these things keep their own schedule.” A fond chuckle accompanied these words.
“She is giving birth as we speak.” The king said slowly, need to say it out loud. Perhaps he had misunderstood.
“That’s right.” The man rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Mercy me…you would think after two previous labors, you would be more coherant in this sort of situation.”
“Both my sons died during the delivery…” The King said it almost as a whisper.
“Oh my…how heartless of me…I fear all the excitement has made me careless with my words. Forgive me your highness.” The man begged.
“Of course I do…” The King said dully. “But my wife…I must…”
“Yes you must go to her.” He was already guiding the King’s hands towards the saddle pommel. “Take my horse, I’ll walk back…”
“Yes…” But shell-shocked and worry made him clumsy, and he only managed to get halfway into the saddle, sliding back to the ground. “Help me…” He saw the dagger too late. It was already descending on him, he who was unprepared for a betrayal by this magnitude. The force used was powerful, the finely sharpened blade easily sliding into him, passing through the bones of his rib cage, to puncture a lung. He dimly registered that it hurt more going out than in, as he slumped knee first on the ground.
“Why…” He said, blood already coming up his throat, splattering out with his words. “I trusted you…”
“And I thank you for that friend.” The man had a handkerchief out and was rubbing the blood off the murder weapon. “It made it so much easier to do this.”
“What…what do you hope to accomplish…” He asked, falling forward.
He chuckled. “To gain the crown of course!” With one last thunder of protest, the sky opened up, a drenching rain pouring down on the pair, instantly soaking the two.
Wild laughter. “But I already have!” His sword was in the traitor’s hand, as he approached the fallen King. Lightening flashed again, showing the deathly pale King’s face at last, shoulder length brown hair, a mustache and neatly trimmed beard, eyes wide with horror as the sword was brought down over his neck.
Letting out one final scream, one to rival that of the thunder, the Queen pushed with all her might, a baby falling free of her, falling into a fretting woman’s hands.
“She’s beautiful your ladyship.” cooed the servant. “She has your coloring.”
“Why can’t I hear her crying?” demanded the Queen half hysterically. “A baby is supposed to be crying!” She knew all too well what it meant when a baby just born was silent…
“Calm down!” snapped a woman with curled brown hair. She was not much older than the Queen. She glared at the servant holding the silent baby. “Some apprentice you are! Forgetting your lessons!” She pulled the baby from her hands, and slapped it hard across it’s bottom.
The baby’s eyes flew open, revealing a beautiful shade of blue, and her reddened face scrunched up, her fists clenching as she prepared to protest this treatment. The screams filled the Castle Nursery, having an immediately calming effect on the Queen.
“Give her to me.” She begged, arms reaching out longingly.
“Just a second…” The brown haired woman cleaned the child off, wrapping it in a blanket. “Here you go luv…”
“Oh…” The Queen breathed out, eyes wide with awe. “She’s beautiful!”
“Aye, she is.” The woman nodded. “Look…” She gently fingered the fuzz of the baby’s head. “She’s going to have your blonde hair.”
The Queen smiled at this. “I can’t wait for Alfor to see her!” Her eyes darkened. “He’s not back yet, is he?”
“You know I wouldn’t keep that from you.”
“Yes Erene.” The Queen agreed. “I can trust you to be honest with me.” She sighed, leaning her head back against the pillows. “I suppose no news is good news…”
“You shouldn’t be thinking about that right now…” Erene said. “Not when you need to be resting.”
“I don’t think I can rest.”
“Nonsense. I’ll fix you up something that will put you right to sleep.” Erene moved away from the bed, and with an angry glare, and sharp words, she sent her dimwitted assistant fleeing from the room. “Have you given any thought of what to name her?” She asked, pouring water in a cup.
“Yes…Alfor and I decided weeks in advance…” The Queen smiled, stroking her child’s face.
“Oh?” With a furtive glance to make sure she was not being spied on, she slipped a small vial out of her sleeve. She broke it open, dumping the clear powder into the glass.
“Yes…we decided to call her Allura…”
“How nice.” She stirred a finger in the cup, making sure the powder dissolved. “It’s a good name. Fitting for a beautiful woman.”
“And my daughter will be the most beautiful of all.” The Queen said dreamily. She accepted the cup without question, and gulped down the water. Erene reached to take the child away.
“No don’t!” cried the Queen. “Please? Only until I fall asleep…?”
“…Very well.” agreed Erene. “You may keep her until you fall asleep.” She stepped away from the bed. “I’ll be outside in case you need me.” She paused only long enough to dim the lights, thinking this small mercy was acceptable. Afterall…once the poison took affect, the child would never be held by either of her real parents ever again…