The pen scribbled across the paper, blue ink making permanent notations down on the document. Occasionally it would pause, it’s wielder taking the time to read the next few sentences. The break would last only until a mistake was found, the pen moving once more to correct the errors on the page.
It was in this way that Allura reviewed the latest documents to be sent to her room, the princess figuring out just how much taxes to lay down on the people of Arus, allocating the money to be used to further advance their civilization, and offer aid to the children made homeless by the two year war with planet Doom. There was never enough money, the sad, simple fact was that far too many people suffered because of this war. Men went off to fight, many not returning leaving their wives widows and their children fatherless. Those that did return were usually injured in someway, unable to provide for their family any longer.
As princess of the planet, it was Allura’s duty to make sure all was provided for the tireless men and women who fought to defend her crown. It was not just the soldiers and their families who suffered, the men and women who remained behind to run farms, and make goods often found their livelihoods in danger. Ships from Doom regularly razed crop fields, setting months of hard work ablaze, their efforts reduced to ash in an instant.
Buildings were constantly being destroyed, leaving people homeless and seeking shelter at the castle and other government buildings. At times, the attacks were daily, lasting for hours and preventing the people from doing an honest day’s work. Allura knew she couldn’t expect them to make the money to pay the taxes, and so the castle coffers remained dangerously low, the treasury constantly being expanded to offer what aid it could by importing goods from other planets.
Allura frowned, trying to judge how much money they would need against how much they had readily available. The princess knew they could not rely on the support of their sister planet, Pollux for much longer. Occasionally aide came from the planets freed from Doom’s tyranny by Arus, but even those were limited in resources. The planets were too busy recovering from the ruination Doom had laid upon them, poor in money and in food.
She was still frowning, teeth chewing on her bottom lip, a bad habit she had developed in recent months. A tsking sound was heard, Allura not looking up as another stack of paperwork was set down next to her ledger on the desk. Paperwork was a never ending part of a royal princess’ life, indeed she found little time to escape it’s burden.
Again that tsking sound, the bearer of the pile of documents speaking out loud. “That’s a nasty habit. It’ll leave you with chapped lips.” Now Allura looked up, seeing a woman not much older than herself frowning at her. Her chestnut colored hair was wound in a tight bun, and she was dressed smartly in a navy blue business suit. Her hands were on her skirted hips, shaking her head back and forth. “See here….you’ve already split your lip..!”
Allura blinked, and realized it was true, tasting the metallic texture of her blood in her mouth. “I hadn’t noticed.” She said, touching her fingertip to her bleeding lip.
“You never do princess.” The woman said, sighing. “Here.” She handed her a handkerchief, Allura pressing it to her mouth.
“Thank you Miranda.” Allura said, seeing her secretary nod and step away from the desk. The woman began moving about the room, pausing to tidy up an already immaculately clean bedroom. Miranda fussed over pillows, fluffing them up and arranging them in a pattern that was pleasing to her eye only. “Has there been any word from Garrison?”
Miranda stiffened, back to Allura as she slowly shook her head no. “I see…” Allura said sadly. “Still no word on when a hearing date will be set…”
“It’s a damn shame they are taking so long!” Miranda exclaimed, her choice of words startling Allura. “Honestly, I think it has to do with Doom’s never ending pockets. They’re bribing judges, keeping this issue out of the courts.”
“I’m sure Garrison will find an honest judge soon enough.” Allura said, trying to be optimistic. “One that can’t be bought by stolen gold.”
“I don’t have much faith in that.” Miranda sighed. “Doom means to delay things until we have no choice but to honor the documents prince Lotor forced you to sign. Oh!” Miranda turned, eyes apologetic as she looked at Allura. “Forgive me…I know you don’t like to hear that name spoken out loud.”
“It’s all right Miranda.” Allura assured her. “It’s just a name…..I won’t let it have any power over me…” But inwardly she was frowning, memories coming unbidden as she thought of the prince of planet Doom. He was as handsome as he was cruel, a man who towered over even the tallest of humans. Exotic looks combined to make one appealing package of blue skin and snow white hair. His golden eyes seemed to haunt her dreams, Allura remembering how they had looked at her, with tenderness one minute, and cocky indifference the next.
She had a tumultuous relationship with the crown prince, knowing the man was obsessed with her. Allura did little to encourage that infatuation, trying everything in her power to discourage him. But nothing seemed to work, prince Lotor insisting he was in love with her.
“That’s a good attitude to have.” Miranda said approvingly. The secretary walked over to the large wall length window, seeing the magenta hue curtains were pulled back to let the sun shine in. The protective shielding was down, allowing an unobscured view of the lake and the woods that spread out in front of the castle. Miranda paused, looking not at the terrain, but up at the sky, a grimace on her face.
“Them again!” She exclaimed, voice disgusted. “How I long for at least one day to see the sky clear of those ships!”
“I hope that happens in our lifetime…” Allura said, but without much hope in her voice.
“You shouldn’t leave the shielding down…” Miranda commented, reaching for the control panel. “It’s dangerous with Doom ships so close by.”
“Leave it.” Ordered Allura, turning in her seat to glance out the window. Miranda’s brow drew together, the woman unable to disobey a direct order by her princess. She didn’t have to like it though.
“I don’t know how you can get any work done with all this ruckus.” Continued Miranda, stepping away from the window. The sounds of explosions could be heard, as well as laser fire being exchanged, photon bursts going off in mid air. It was almost like a fireworks display, with colorful lights made to dazzle the eyes. It was also a lot more lethal, any stray laser could kill a person instantly.
“I’ve grown used to it.” Allura said absentmindedly, returning her focus to her paperwork. But she didn’t read the document in front of her, thinking instead on the numerous ships that crowded the sky of planet Arus. It was not just several fleets of Doom that cast a dark blight on the planet, ships from Garrison were also stationed in Arus’ airspace. They had been deployed to keep Doom from setting foot on Arusian soil, a minor victory for the planet, as Garrison refused to acknowledge Doom’s ownership until a judge had properly reviewed the case.
Doom wasn’t taking this lying down, actively attacking Garrison ships. Arus was a buzz with the constant noise of the raging battle as it’s backdrop, the people learning to tune it out to some extent. Sometimes Allura went out to fight in the battle herself, flying blue lion, which was one-fifth of a whole set that formed the mighty defender of peace, Voltron.
But that was happening less and less often, Allura’s health faltering as she experienced frequent dizziness and fainting spells. She tried to hide those symptoms from the other pilots, tried to hide what was happening to her, but the people closest to her were growing suspicious. She was just grateful she hadn’t had too many bouts of nausea, managing to blame her other symptoms on a mysterious illness.
Loose fitting clothing was also helping to hide her growing stomach, Allura dressing in outfits that were far too baggy compared to her usual snug fitting attire. But already her belly was starting to expand, and she knew time was running out for her. She held back her sighs, not wanting to draw Miranda’s attention to her, Allura thinking back on what had happened three months ago.
She could still remember the anger she had felt, the horror to learn she had been drugged by Prince Lotor. The poison in her system had made her act in an unexpected way, Allura turning seductive and aggressive, willingly lying with her enemy. Even worse was it had happened more than once, when Allura became desperate to save Planet Arus from Doom’s invasion.
She had failed, being forced to sign a document that stated Arus was to be surrendered to Planet Doom, her family stripped of their political power. Lotor had even put in a provision stating Allura would no longer be ruler unless she married him. And marriage had been very much on the prince’s mind, the man almost succeeding in forcing her to go through with a sham of a ceremony. She had been rescued just in time, although only Allura and one other knew of just how far the prince had won when it came to the princess’ body.
And now he had another victory over her, Allura pregnant with his child. She was still struggling on how to tell her closest friends, wondering how the Voltron Force would take to the news that she was bearing their enemy’s child. Even worse she feared the look in their eyes, wondering if they would look at her in disgust or hatred
~I have to tell them though…~ Allura thought to herself, catching herself before she could start to chew on her lip again. ~Sooner or later they’ll be bound to find out…and it’ll be better if they hear it from me.~
“Miranda?” Allura said, coming to a decision. It wouldn’t be the first time she had decided to tell the Voltron Force what had happened, but perhaps this time she would have the nerve to carry though and reveal the truth of her situation. “Can you notify the boys to meet me in the Jonias conference room?”
Miranda didn’t have to ask who Allura meant when she said the boys. She merely nodded, face serious as she said, “Of course. When should they arrive?”
“As soon as possible if you please.” Allura said, realizing she would have to invite her nanny and Coran to this meeting as well.
“I’ll get right on it.” Miranda said, her heels muffled on the pink carpeting. She stepped towards the doorway, offering a slight bow to Allura before she walked out the bedroom.
The princess let out the sigh she had been holding, leaning back in her chair. Her hands went to her stomach, rubbing it in an effort to calm her nerves. “I hope this is the right thing to do…” Allura whispered.
The liquid bubbled, the contents in the pot being brought to a slow boil as wrinkled hands held a bowl over it. There was fine ground powder lining that bowl’s bottom, a dark charcoal color that gave no hint as to what the powder had previously been. Haggar looked consideringly at the powder, brow furrowed as she over turned it, careful to shake just a quarter of the powder into the pot.
It had an immediate reaction, a low explosion being set off, as a dark red cloud of smoke poured out of the pot. Haggar held her breath, trying not to choke on the smoke, relieved she hadn’t added any more powder than necessary.
She set the bowl down, intent on leaving the mixture to continue cooking. It would be some time before her latest potion was finished, the witch already turning her thoughts to the her spell book. She had a lot of free time these days, far away from Planet Doom and her laboratory. She missed her home, missed her equipment, the technology she mixed with ancient magics to be twice as deadly.
She had tried to recreate her laboratory as best she could here on the flag ship of the fiftieth fleet of Doom. She was fortunate that she had been given several chambers for her own personal use, stocking them with as many herbs and ingredients as she could afford to take with her. Hagger sighed, thinking of how her shelves back home were overstocked with items, the stock here not even one-tenth the size of the one back home.
It wasn’t just raw materials, she was limited in other ways, her selection of candidates to be turned into robeasts dwindling down until there was none left. Occasionally, the soldiers would bring her someone they captured down on the surface of Planet Arus, some poor innocent who she would force down her potions, changing his or her nature, perverting them into grotesque monsters that could then be changed into robeasts. But even that was a rare occurrence, with the obstacle Garrison’s fleet provided.
“I don’t see why I had to come along on this fool’s errand.” Haggar complained out loud. A questioning meow was her answer, her cat Coba lifting his head to peer at her curiously. She sighed, reaching to pet the blue furred back of her familiar, taking comfort in the softness of the creature’s fur. Inwardly she knew why, King Zarkon had insisted, wanting her to secretly supervise his son.
Zarkon’s last words to her echo in her mind, the man telling her to make sure his son’s infatuation with the princess of Arus didn’t cost them their victory this time around. Haggar snorted, a snide hint of bitter amusement in that sound. She knew there was little chance of controlling Lotor where Allura was involved, the prince was obsessed, even more so than usual.
“If only Zarkon would allow me to drug him…” Haggar muttered, Coba making trilling sounds at the witch moved towards a bookcase. She had many spells written down, and yet she still hadn’t come across one that would allow Lotor to be free of his deluded sense of love for the princess.
Her hands reached for a book, sliding a heavy tome that was bound in human skin, the flayed hide tanned and leathery. She nearly dropped the book on her toes when the door to her mini laboratory slammed open, a female’s high pitched shriek accompanying the bang.
Coba hissed, back bristling as his ears flattened at the sound of the wail, Haggar turning just in time to see a female slave stumble into the room. She was blue eyed and blonde, looking like so many of the female slaves Prince Lotor favored. She was dressed in the tiniest of silk scraps, purple and red colors inadequately covering her. The slave fell to her knees, loud sobbing accompanying her actions, her kohl lined eyes leaving black streaks down her cheeks.
Haggar was gearing up to demand the meaning of this intrusion, when the perpetrator of the slave’s arrival stepped into the room. Prince Lotor himself, clad in only a loose fitting black robe, his legs bare beneath the short hem. His hair was unruly, the man not having had time to groom it into order. His golden eyes flashed, incensed anger showing in them.
“Haggar!” His lips were curled into a scowl, Lotor looking as arrogant as he did angry. “What is the meaning of this?!” He gestured at the sobbing slave, the girl cringing as though she feared he would hit her.
“Pardon?” Haggar said, then asked. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that? Honestly prince Lotor, haven’t you learned by now not to barge in on me when I am working?!”
“Don’t try to play the innocent. I know you put this….this slave up to it!” Lotor waved his right hand about, slashing at the air with angry gestures.
“I really have no clue what you are referring to.” Haggar said calmly, setting her book back on it’s shelf. Coba was approaching the hysterical slave, hackles still raised as he padded forward on clawed feet.
“You sent this….this tart to seduce me!” Lotor clarified, and with a menacing look on his face, he stepped closer to Haggar. “Do not try to deny it. Your acting is not that good, and I already got the full story out of the girl.”
For one brief instant, Haggar glanced at the slave, her sobbing silenced in the face of her fear of the witch. Annoyance was in the witch’s eyes, but she turned back to Lotor with a schooled expression. “So what if I did? Why do you object to a little diversion? Or…” A crafty look now, a snide statement offered up to him. “Does she not look enough like the princess of Arus for you to perform?”
“Witch…” Lotor breathed out a hiss of air, both his hands clenching into fists. “You go too far.”
“Perhaps.” Haggar said, eyes not betraying her nervousness when Lotor grabbed hold of the collar of her robe, hauling her up so she stood before him on tip toe. The material was snug around her neck, making it difficult to breathe, Haggar hurrying out her next words. “But I merely was looking after your best interests your highness!”
“How?” demanded Lotor, not releasing his hold on her.
“I thought perhaps a good roll in the sack would help you get over Allura…” Haggar answered. “Or at the very least, get you out of the foul mood you’ve been in these past few months.”
“You thought wrong.” Lotor said, and shoved Haggar backwards. She slammed into the bookcase, the wood creaking as it threatened to topple over. Coba spun about, white eyes flashing as he realized his mistress was in danger. “Call off your familiar, or lose him for good.” Lotor threatened, Haggar hurrying to make a calming gesture to Coba.
“Really your highness….you’re overreacting…it’s just some sex…it might even help you forget her for the moment.” Haggar said, straightening up.
“Nothing can make me forget her.” Lotor retorted. “Or what she did to me.”
“My my…..that good in bed eh?” That earned her another sharp look, Haggar biting back nervous laughter.
“She betrayed me….” Lotor growled. “She made me promises….and then she broke each and every one of them.”
“Can’t say I blame her.” Haggar said, Lotor’s eyes narrowing in annoyance. “Come now, what did you expect? Everything she agreed to, she did so because you left her no other choice. It’s your own fault you were left jilted at the altar.”
“It’s a temporary setback…” Lotor said. “I will have planet Arus, and what’s more…I will take Allura for my bride, one way or another.”
“Yes, yes, I know.” Haggar interrupted, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. “She’ll marry you even if you have to kill everyone near and dear to her in the process.” A sigh then, Haggar continuing. “I suppose it’s progress. You’re not half as mad as you were three months ago.” Haggar often wondered what Lotor would have done to Allura if he had gotten his hands on her during that period of intense rage. Lotor was inventive under the best of circumstances, even more so when he was angry.
“I wonder if that’s a good thing.” Lotor said, and Haggar looked at him curiously. “The anger keeps me focused….determined more than ever to come out the victor in this war.”
“Well, that’s good.” Haggar replied, and Lotor gave a curt nod of his head.
“Indeed.” He made a move to turn, striding past the slave that had been sitting there quietly, silent tears streaming down her face.
“Oh Prince Lotor?” Haggar called after him, Lotor pausing. “What should I do with the slave?”
He turned, a cruel smile on his face. “It matters not to me. Turn her into a robeast for all I care.”
“Yes sire…” Haggar said, hearing the slave gasp and whimper. “An excellent idea indeed.” The witch looked down at the cowering girl, slowly revealing her fangs as she leered, knowing her eyes lacked any hint of mercy to them.