Pause 02

Haggar was wrong. That was the thought that followed Lotor as he stalked back to his private rooms aboard the flag ship. It was a thought that was as angry as it was knowing, but Lotor took no pleasure from it. Just as he had taken no pleasure from the slave girl he had abandoned so cruelly inside the witch’s lair. The slave, another miscalculation on Haggar’s part, had been an unwanted surprise found in his bed.

There was a dozen reasons why he had not taken the girl, another half dozen that spurred his anger on. She had looked a little too much like Allura in the dim lighting of the room. It was a resemblance that had him reacting immediately, Lotor lunging forward to pin the frightened slave to his bed. In the muted light he had mistaken her hair to be the same brilliant gold of Allura’s, had seen her blue eyes colored with fear and had been reminded of the way the princess of Arus so often looked at him. But it was not Allura he held beneath him. The whimpers the slave girl had let out alerted him to the fact, her voice much deeper than Allura’s had ever been.

For one brief moment, before the slave had cried out, Lotor had thought Allura had found her way back to him. He hadn’t known the details of how such a miracle had occurred, hadn’t cared to find out. He had been too busy gloating inwardly, thinking his moment of revenge was at hand. Lotor scowled as he remembered the thoughts that had gone through his mind, words he had repeated a hundred, nay a thousand times over. Words that hissed of how Allura would pay for what she had done to him. How she would pay with everything she had to give. Only to find Lotor demanding more, the girl realizing her short lived freedom was at an end.

The realization that this was not Allura, soured his mood, ruined his triumph. He did not care that the slave had been sent by Haggar, in a misguided attempt to soothe his temper with a much needed release. Lotor didn’t want some strumpet or slave, didn’t want or need the sex they offered. It would have been meaningless, and it would serve no purpose other than to foul his mood even further. And all because they weren’t who he really wanted, and no matter how much they looked like Allura, they could never be her!

It was with that agonizing thought that he entered his private rooms, eyes falling on the bed with it’s rumpled sheets. His hands clenched into fists, Lotor’s jaw setting. He had the strongest urge to fall on the bed in a fit of anger, to tear it apart with his claws, cleave the mattress into two with his sword. But he restrained himself, knowing the rumor mongers did not need any new tantrums to fuel their talk.

And they had been talking. They had been talking for months, gossiping, outright laughing at him. And all because of Allura, because of the betrayal she had done to him. And it was a betrayal, of that he had no doubts. Lotor did not care that everything she had agreed to, the promises she had made, were all vows made under duress. To Lotor it did not matter how her given promise was obtained, just that he had had it.

And with that having, he had been happy. Or as happy as he could be given that Allura wasn’t completely won over to his point of view. But he had been full of confidence, sure that in time she would get over her own doubts and upset. That she would learn to be happy with him, without any need for Haggar’s potions. He had even dared to hope that she might learn to love him.

It burned, it chafed, this perceived abandonment of hers. It went beyond mere insult, Allura fleeing from him right at the moment they were to be wed. The fact that he had the documents that surrendered Arus unto Doom meant little in the long run. Arus meant little, so long as Allura continued to evade him! With a sneer and a growl, Lotor stalked over to the wall that doubled as a window when it’s covering was down. He lowered that covering now, needing to gaze out into the distance. The view the window offered him showed the sky around him crowded with ships. Both Doom and Garrison, the two sides fighting over Arus.

He ignored the ships and the volley of laser fire, eyes narrowing as he stared at a building in the distance. It was almost lost to the clutter in the sky, but he saw it all the same. The Castle of Lions. Allura’s home. His hand touched the thick glass, Lotor all but glaring at the castle. He wanted to tear it down, brick by brick. Tear it down until Allura had nowhere left to hide, nowhere left to go but towards him.

It was the same kind of impulse that had him barraging the terrain down below. The explosions of the ground couldn’t begin to soothe the anger within him, Lotor wanting Allura to hurt as much as he did. If he couldn’t have her, for now he’d settle with ruining the land and lives of her people. All in some crazed bid to make her regret leaving him.

Once again he reflected on how Haggar was wrong, the witch thinking his anger had calmed down from the fiery rages he had experienced months ago. She thought his anger lessened, his hurt healing. She didn’t know he had merely learned to control that anger, to channel it into new outlets as he rained devastation down on planet Arus. Lotor didn’t care if he spoiled the planet, ruined it for Doom’s use. He just wanted Allura to realize what she had done. Realize and regret it, and dare he hope, return to him.

His anger would lessen some if she came back willingly. He might even forgive her for all she had done, provided she groveled enough in apology. He liked the image that filled his head, Allura down on her knees, begging with tears in her eyes. Forgiveness wasn’t the only thing he’d make her beg for. He’d force her to see the error of her ways, make her beg for his affection, his love. Make her beg for the right to be his bride.

Lotor wished he could say he’d refuse her then. But he still wanted her. The broken promises and abandonment, the anger, it all just fueled what even Lotor realized was an obsession. He was like a little boy who had been denied a favorite toy. But unlike that little boy, he held the power to take what he wanted. And damn any who got in his way! Not even Allura would be able to stop him, not for long at any rate.

Lotor would smile when he would get his way. The victory over Allura would be extra sweet. It might even be the balm his anger needed to cool, though he didn’t see it happening instantaneously. Not until Allura paid him back for her defiance. And she had much to pay for here, the indignities done to him after Allura had left him jilted at the altar. The entirety of planet Doom had been watching, the nobles of his father’s court bearing witness to an all too public humiliation.

They laughed, openly and behind his back. His father ridiculed him, chiding Lotor for not having the strength to hold onto a woman. But more than that, Zarkon thought Lotor as weak willed and weak-minded as ever, for letting Allura escape. If his father had had his way, Allura would have died months ago. Zarkon didn’t understand why Lotor had allowed her to live after the treatment he had suffered at her hands.

It was just one more way they were different. His father didn’t understand love, even the twisted version Lotor now felt. But Zarkon could be made to understand payback, the King more amused than anything to watch Lotor lead one assault after another on planet Arus. It had been a long three months, his fleet battling Garrison’s day in and day out. Lotor refused to be driven off the planet, just as Garrison refused to acknowledge the documents that stated Arus was now a territory of the Doom Empire.

It was a stalemate, even with all their ships and robeasts. Reinforcements continued to arrive, ships from both sides of the battle lending back up to those present. Neither side had yet to be overwhelmed by the other, even with Doom’s superior numbers. It was those damn lions of Arus that made all the difference. The lions often joined Garrison in fighting against Doom. Sometimes even Allura’s blue lion was present for the fighting. But Lotor had not failed to notice she was making less and less appearances during the actual fighting. He wondered about that, wondered at her reasons for leaving others to defend her planet for her.

Sometimes Lotor thought it was fear of him that kept Allura out of the battles. He wondered if she worried about getting separated from her team mates, if she was scared of what would happen if that separation led to her capture. Lotor thought she had a right to that fear, especially when his anger made him so unpredictable towards how he would treat Allura. Sometimes he even worried himself, not wanting to hurt her but not trusting the anger’s control over him.

It might have helped if Allura had taken his calls. But the three months had passed with no words exchanged between them. The princess was dead set on ignoring him, her middle men refusing the calls before they even reached Allura. Lotor sneered, watching as a photon bomb exploded over one of the castle’s turrets. And all because he knew that as much as Allura wanted to ignore him, she couldn’t ignore what his fleet was doing to her home and her world.

But he wondered when it would all end. Was Allura really content to drag this out until there was nothing left of Arus? He didn’t think she was that big a fool. At some point she would have to acknowledge the papers she had signed and what they meant for her and her planet. Until then, Lotor would keep on attacking. Keep on paying off court officials to delay the hearing, work on bribing and threatening judges who might side favorably with Arus.

Lotor knew Allura’s only hope was in a fair trial. It was that hope that kept her fighting, the princess desperate to mount a case that Arus surrender wasn’t really binding. But it was all for nothing. Lotor would make sure the trial was anything but fair. And that was if the trial ever came to happen! If Doom had any say, it wouldn’t. They would continue to attack, continue to impress upon the princess the benefits of acknowledging the paper work she had signed.

Turning away from the window, Lotor was grim. If Allura had her way, she might carry on this farce for another six months, maybe even a year. She would continue to hold out for as long as possible. She wouldn’t be content until all hope of a last minute rescue was stamped out. Lotor didn’t want to wait even one more minute, let alone another six months. He wanted her now, wanted her with him, and wanted this whole debacle over and done with.

He stalked over to his desk, looking at the documents that lay scattered over it’s surface. There were reports on how the battle efforts were going, but Lotor had no interest in them right now. He could see with his own eyes they weren’t winning, still at that damn stalemate with garrison. Instead he looked for the papers documenting Arus’ resources. His expert analysts were crunching numbers, trying for estimates on how long Arus could last in it’s current state.

He didn’t like the numbers they gave him, Lotor deciding to start an even more aggressive attack. He’d start with the farms that lay scattered by the hundreds all over Arus’ surface. Those farms would be targeted, razed to the ground so that their crops were ruined. It would greatly damaged the planet’s food supply, and with Doom ships in the air, Arus would not be able to import supplies from other worlds.

Of course there was the trouble of Garrison. Those damn ships were occasionally sending care packages down to the surface, with food and medicine for the Arusians. But with the damage done to the farms, not even Garrison would be able to supply enough food for all of Allura’s people.

There were other things to target, other places to destroy. But Lotor would start with just the farms, sure the destruction of them would send a message to Allura. That message would be none too subtle in it’s demands, Lotor wanting Allura to surrender and come to him.

Nodding to himself, he had the window’s covering raised. It was time to stop lingering in thoughts, time to get dressed, and get busy. Moping about his bedroom accomplished nothing but allowed his anger to fester. And he had enough anger to last him a lifetime.

Dropping his robe on the floor, Lotor padded over to the closet. Row upon row of neatly pressed uniform greeted him. It wasn’t much of a choice, Lotor reaching for the nearest one, and quickly putting it on. He felt just a little more presentable once dressed, Lotor cringing as he remembered how just under an hour ago he had ran through the ship corridors like a mad man. A barely dressed bad man, all snarls and growls as he dragged the frightened witless slave girl to Haggar’s rooms.

Such behavior was surely an overreaction, Lotor could acknowledge that. But then, since Allura’s betrayal, his life had been a whole series of overreacting. Anything and anyone could set him off, and frequently did so. His whole crew was on edge, walking around him on tip toe. It didn’t stop them from gossiping though, Lotor scowling with the realization that this latest tantrum would surely reach his father and the noble’s ears.

One more embarrassment, in a wealth of them. Lotor secured his sword belt around his waist, grumbling all the while. He could almost scream in frustration from it all. Lotor knew he needed to end this, and end it now. Before anything else happened to cause him humiliation. As he walked out of his cabin, Lotor wondered if there was any way to get close to Allura. Not just close enough to look at her, he wanted to get his hands on her. To grab her and take her prisoner, take her back and force an end to the last three months of craziness.

Lotor knew he had to come up with a plan. But with Garrison in the sky, it seemed his options were limited. Lotor wondered what his father would think if he used the Empire’s resources and best minds to come up with a way for him to capture Allura. Most likely his father would be disgusted yet again. He’d see it as a waste, of time, of money, or valuable people. Zarkon wouldn’t understand that capturing Allura would put an end to the last of Arus’ resistance.

Many a soldier saw Lotor coming, and wisely got out of his way. He barely noticed the way they scurried to hide, Lotor turning over the problem of getting to Allura in his head. He’d still be thinking about it as he approached the ship’s bridge, an elevator dinging it’s arrival. Commander Cossack would step out of the elevator, and do a double take at the expression on Lotor’s face.

But with nowhere to run, the Commander would swallow down his panic, and speak. “Greetings, your highness.”

Lotor looked at him, and sighed. “I need help.”

Cossack was wary. “Help with what?”

“With getting Allura, what else?!” Lotor snarled, and Cossack took a step back into the elevator. “There has to be a way.” Lotor said, following Cossack into the elevator. The commander didn’t look thrilled to be trapped in such a small place with his prince. “But with Garrison running interference, we haven’t been able to set foot on Arus….”

“That is a problem.” Agreed the Commander.

“How do I capture her when I can’t even get close to her?!” Lotor continued, his voice sounding tormented.

“Well….landing on Arus is out of the question.” Cossack said as the elevator began to move. “So why don’t you lure her out to another planet? Somewhere that Garrison won’t be able to stop you from setting foot on.”

Lotor stared at him a moment, startled by the simplicity of the suggestion. It was a simplicity that had evaded him, an idea forming in his mind. “Cossack!”

“What?!” The commander backed into the wall, seeming frightened of the way the prince had said his name.

“That’s brilliant!” Lotor exclaimed. “That’s exactly what I’ll do!”

“Ah…good, good…..” Cossack was a bit uncertain though. “So what planet will we attack as part of this trap for Allura?”

“We’re not going to do any attacking.”

“We’re not?” Cossack was surprised and confused. “Then what are we going to do?”

“We’re going to court.” Lotor announced as the elevator door opened with a ding. “Arus is going to get it’s day before the judge…”

“What?” Cossack stared at him aghast. “Why would we let that happen?”

“Don’t you see Cossack?” Lotor demanded. “Allura will have to leave the castle of lions in order to make her case against us. And that is when I’ll grab her!” He was almost giddy with glee at the thought, thinking his ultimate triumph was almost here.

“It….it sounds risky…” Cossack began, but Lotor was waving him off.

“What’s life without a little risk?” Lotor wanted to know. “I just have to hammer out some details now. In the meantime I want you to get the word out. No one is to pay or kill off any more judges. You got that?”

“Er…yes sire.” Cossack sounded unhappy though. “Your father is not going to like this….”

“Let my old man be unhappy for a little while longer.” Scoffed Lotor. “In the end, it won’t matter what happens, so long as we get him Arus!”

“Right…” Cossack said, muttering something under his breath. “I hope this works.”

“Of course it will!” Lotor grinned, and stepped out of the elevator. A spring was in his step, Lotor feeling better than he had in the last three months. It was almost as if he already had Allura right where he wanted her. And he was determined to make sure nothing and no one, not even his father, could ruin this moment for him.

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