Pause 11

The court room was decidedly less crowded, the judge having cleared it of those who were nonessential to the case he was presiding over. That included the reporters, the large group of them waiting just outside the closed doors. They were clearly unhappy with being kicked out, but there was nothing they could do, their behavior had brought this banishment upon themselves.

The stands were nearly empty. Only a few people on each side of the court remained. That included Allura’s entourage, though Nanny and her assistant Miranda were decidedly absent. The two women had taken advantage of the brief break to excuse themselves, the pair heading off to the nearest restroom. They had yet to come back, a fact that had Allura worried. But she wasn’t given the chance to go looking for them, the judge deciding to continue the trial.

Currently witch Haggar had been called to the witness stand. She seemed very put out by the whole experience, a permanent scowl on her lips as she was questioned by Allura’s lawyers. Her cowl had been forced back so that her face could be seen. She was not allowed to hide her expressions in the shadow of her hood. This served to further agitate the witch, the woman’s expression had been practically murderous as she complied with the order.

“So…tell me about the potion.”

“Potion?” Haggar questioned Donovan sharply. “Which one?”

“How many have you got?” a puzzled Donovan asked.

“Making potions is a hobby of mine.” The witch admitted, voice turning prideful. “You could say I am as good at them as I am at crafting robeasts.”

“Duly noted. But tell me about the potion, the one you allegedly made for princess Allura.”

“Dearie me, did I make a potion for the pretty princess?” Haggar frowned. “I simply can’t remember.”

“Try harder.” Donovan urged. “This is the same alleged potion we’ve been talking about since the trial began. The one the pilot Pidge claims would have made Princess Allura have sex with your prince!”

“Ah, that potion.” Haggar tsked. “Magic can do many things, but do you really believe there is one that can force a person to love another?”

“The issue isn’t about Princess Allura loving Prince Lotor!” Donovan seemed exasperated. “It’s about whether or not you manufactured a potion that was akin to a date rape drug!”

“Please.” Haggar scoffed. “Have you seen Prince Lotor? He has no need of any such drug, women throw themselves at him.” She smirked then. “I dare say even the princess of Arus lost her head once alone with him.”

Allura couldn’t quite contain the mortified gasp that escaped her. She was doubly glad the reporters weren’t present to hear what Haggar had said.

Donovan touched his temples with his fingers, as though trying to ward off a headache. “Haggar….just answer the question. Did you or did you not make a potion for Prince Lotor to use on Princess Allura? A potion that would allow him to seduce her easily into his bed?”

“No, of course not. I’d be a rich witch if I could do that.”

“Haggar, you are sworn to tell the truth!” Reminded Donavan, and one of Lotor’s judges stood up.

“Objection! He is badgering the witness!”

“Sustained.” The judge said, and glanced at Donovan. “Be careful with those accusations, counselor.”

Donovan seemed to grind his teeth, especially when Haggar said the following. “I swore an oath to tell the truth. I do not take those things lightly.” She looked past Donovan to catch Allura’s glare. “If you slept with Prince Lotor, it’s because you wanted him.”

Allura couldn’t take it anymore, slapping her hands on the table as she lurched to her feet. “You’re lying!”

“Princess Allura!” Several people, including the judge and her lawyers shouted at once.

“You made that awful potion!” Allura continued, practically growling. “You made it so I would be amiable to Lotor’s advances. Made it so I wouldn’t fight him when he raped me!”

“Princess Allura! Control yourself!” shouted the judge as one of Allura’s lawyers tried to force her to sit back down. She remained standing, glaring at Haggar as though that would force the witch to admit the truth.

“The truth hurts, doesn’t it princess?” Haggar wanted to know, purposefully antagonizing Allura. The judge shouted at the witch to be quiet, then turned to glare at Allura who shrieked.”

“I hate you! You evil, evil bitch!”

“Counselor, get control of your client before I hold her in contempt!” The Judge roared. Allura was still standing, shaking from head to toe from how upset she was. Suddenly hands were on her shoulder, a male voice in her ear.

“Don’t let the witch get to you, princess.” Hunk advised her. He was trying to ease her back down to her seat, but Allura was still rigid in place. “You only play into their hands when you lose control like this…”

Allura let out deep breath, trying to regain her calm. It was difficult with Haggar still smirking at her, the witch’s eyes gleaming with amusement. Allura had to close her eyes to block out the sight of Haggar, the princess letting out a few more breaths before she nodded. “You’re right Hunk, you’re right. I’m sorry.” She slowly sat down, and looked at the judge. “Please excuse my outburst…”

“I won’t tolerate another.” Warned the judge. “I’m prepare to fine you a fee if you disrupt this case again, and a third offense will land you a night in the county’s jail.”

“I…I understand.” Allura’s voice was weak as she responded.

“If we’re done with the dramatics, can I step down?” Haggar wanted to know.

“Your move counselor.” The judge said.

“I move to dismiss Haggar as a witness and call castle guard Jensen to the stand.”

“Finally.” Haggar complained, shrugging off the bailiff’s attempt to help as she stepped down from the witness stand. Allura made sure not to look at the witch when Haggar walked past her table, the girl still feeling uneasy and upset. It was heightened by the rush of sickness that came on suddenly, her stomach upset. She feared it was morning sickness that was plaguing her, and wondered if the judge would allow her to leave for a quick bathroom break. Probably not, given how she had upset him with her earlier outburst.

The guard Jensen took his seat upon the witness stand, his expression nervous. Allura wondered what her lawyer intended to ask the guard. Donovan walked over to him after Jensen had been sworn in, and immediately began questioning him.

“You were part of the operation to rescue Princess Allura and the pilot Pidge, were you not?”

“Ye….yes…” stammered a nervous Jensen. “Yes I was. I was approached by the Captain of the Voltron Force himself.”

“And what were the requirements to take part in this mission?” asked Donovan.

“Mainly, anyone who could fit into the second dress could take part.” Jensen launched into an explanation. “The Drules were looking for a priest….in order to marry their prince to Princess Allura. Father Deacon was chosen from a nearby village….and we, that is Captain Keith and myself, would accompany him disguised as nuns.”

“And what did you see once you were brought onboard the Drule command ship?” Donovan wanted to know.

“Prince Lotor and Princess Allura, side by side. The prince had just given the princess flowers and was preparing to walk her down an aisle composed of Drule soldiers.”

“Did the princess seem happy about what was happening?” Jensen’s reaction was immediate, the man shaking his head no.

“No sir. The princess seemed sad, almost depressed. The sparkle in her eyes was gone, and she had to be urged by Lotor to approach Father Deacon.”

“Just what is the point of all this?” One of Lotor’s six lawyers demanded.

“I am merely trying to establish that the princess was reluctant about marrying Prince Lotor. It is my intent to make a case that he was forcing her down the aisle, just as surely as he had forced her to sign over control of planet Arus.”

“Objection! Counselor is trying to lead the witness and the jury into a belief of his.”

“Tread carefully Counselor.” Warned the judge.

“Noted.” Donovan replied. “Jensen, what happened during the ceremony?”

“There wasn’t much of a ceremony.”

“And why is that?” asked Donovan.

“Well…before Father Deacon could get out more than a few words, I let loose with a flash grenade. It blinded the gathered Drules, allowing Captain Keith the chance to pull the princess away from Prince Lotor.”

Allura could remember the relief and surprise she had felt when Keith had revealed himself to her. At that moment, her hope had not been restored, the princess telling Keith how he had been too late. The Captain hadn’t cared, adamant that his number one priority was rescuing her from Lotor. Allura had been grateful even as she felt shame to think she had given in to Lotor’s demands.

Jensen, under Donovan’s prodding, was relaying the scene that had happened onboard the command’s ship’s bridge. How they fought their way to freedom, taking Allura and the captive Pidge with them. She remembered that moment well, and the feelings associated with her rescue and escape in green lion. She had done some of her best flying ever, managing to evade the Drule ships until red lion and yellow lion had arrived as back up.

The courtroom doors opened, Allura hearing the reporters shouting questions. She turned in time to see a pale faced Miranda enter. The woman looked to be in a state of shock, walking almost in a daze. Nanny was nowhere to be seen, and Allura frowned as she met Miranda’s eyes. The woman did a subtle shake of her head no, but Allura couldn’t guess as to what that meant.

Allura turned her attention back to the front of the court. Jensen was still talking about the trip back to the castle, how Lotor’s ships had tried to shoot green lion down. As she listened, Miranda tapped her on the shoulder. “Princess…” Before Allura could turn to look at her, a note landed before her hands on the table. Curious, Allura pulled the note onto her lap, and began unfolding it.

She went as pale as Miranda when she read the words printed neatly on the paper. She must have made some sound, the lone female lawyer on her team leaned into Allura. “Problem princess?”

“N…no…” lied Allura, glad her shaking hands were hidden under the table. “It’s nothing. I’m fine.”

Her lawyer didn’t look reassured, but went back to paying attention to the exchange between Jensen and Donovan. Allura glanced down at the note again, as if hoping the words would have changed in the seconds she had looked away. But they had not, the threat there apparent. The Drules had taken Nanny prisoner, and were threatening to kill her unless Allura left the courtroom at the first available opportunity.

She bit her lip, and turned to look Lotor’s way. For once he was studiously ignoring her, his eyes intent on the witness stand. Allura couldn’t even muster up the energy to hate him in the moment, she was simply that frightened for Nanny.

Crumpling the note, and then pocketing it, Allura continued to chew at her lip. Her nauseous feeling increased, and the room seemed to spin about in an alarming fashion. For an instant Allura thought she might faint, and then wondered if she shouldn’t go along with that impulse. But fainting wouldn’t get her to Nanny any sooner, Allura practically vibrating in her seat as she waited for the judge to dismiss them all for a lunch break.

The lunch break couldn’t come fast enough for Allura, the princess being among the first to stand up. Hunk and Pidge were behind her, talking about where they should go for lunch. Hunk had spied a sidewalk cafe not too far from the courthouse, and thought the food he had seen looked promising. Pidge was arguing that they should order something to be brought to the courthouse.

“It’ll let us avoid the crowds and most of the reporters.” Pointed out the boy.

“Makes sense.” Hunk said. “Let’s ask the bailiff if he’s got the number for a good place that does take out.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Pidge smiled. “Princess, do you want anything in particular?”

“Hmm….what?” Allura feared her distraction was showing. “Just…just order me the house special.”

“Will do!” Pidge assured her. They walked over to talk with the bailiff, passing by Jensen who approached Allura.

“I’m so sorry, princess.” He began, though she couldn’t imagine for what. “I wish I could have been a bigger help…”

“Don’t worry.” Assured Donovan, clapping a friendly hand on Jensen’s back. “Your testimony was pretty incriminating as is.”

“You think so?” Jensen seemed to perk up at the lawyer’s nod.

“Of course you have to be prepared to be cross examined by the Drule lawyers.” Donovan sighed. “They won’t hesitate to twist around everything you said.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t let the princess and Arus down!” Jensen vowed, but Allura hardly heard him. She was gesturing for Miranda to approach her, the princess making excuses.

“I need to go freshen up.” Allura said.

“I’ll come with you.” Jensen began.

“No need. Miranda will be with me.” Allura quickly told him, conscious of that the note had ordered her to not share it’s contents with anyone. She figured Miranda was okay, since it was the woman who had given her the note. It was Miranda who would lead Allura to where the Drules were waiting.

“Are you sure about that?” Jensen asked. His eyes did a subtle shifting towards Lotor’s group. “I mean…”

“They wouldn’t dare try anything in a crowded courthouse.” Allura forced a laugh. “I’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.” Jensen still looked ready to protest, but then Hunk was asking him what he wanted for lunch. By the time he was done deciding, Allura and Miranda had already left the courtroom. They walked stiff legged past the crowd of reporters, the men and women shouting all manner of questions at the princess. She ignored them, staring straight ahead as she followed Miranda.

Once they were clear of the reporters, Allura turned to Miranda. “What happened?” She demanded, voice an urgent hiss. “Where’s Nanny?” Miranda had yet to regain the color to her face, cheeks so pale as she turned frightened eyes to the princess. Her lips opened and closed the woman stammering.

“I….they….that is.”

Allura fought the urge to reach out and shake the woman by her arms. “Calm down, and tell me what has happened!!”

Miranda swallowed, then licked her lips. “We were in the ladies restroom when they came in.”

“They who? The Drule?”

“No.” Miranda shook her head. “These were humans.” Allura stepped back, shocked. “Dressed as courthouse guards. There was no one else in the room with us…..they had sticks, ones that shoot out a low level of electricity. They used them on us before we could scream….”

“They tasered you!” gasped Allura, and Miranda nodded, miserable in her agreement.

“They slapped and kicked us when we were down. They LAUGHED while they did that.” Miranda shuddered. “Nanny was taken into a stall, her hands cuffed behind her. Her mouth was gagged. They told me to deliver the note to you, unless I wanted to watch Nanny die.” Miranda used the back of her hand to wipe at her wet eyes. “They said they would shove her face first into the toilet and hold her down until she drowned!”

“NO!” gasped Allura, voice coming out louder then she would have liked. Several people turned to look her way, but she ignored them.

“I had to do what they said…” Miranda continued in a hushed whisper. “I don’t want to deliver you into their hands, but how can I let Nanny die?”

“Whatever happens, it won’t be your fault.” Allura whispered back, her expression grim. “It will be Lotor’s.” She had no doubt these women were working for Prince Lotor. Her only question was how he had found courthouse guards willing to work for him.

“What will we do?” Miranda wanted to know. “They are set to kill Nanny if you don’t do as they say.”

“What can we do?” Allura asked, then sighed. “We’ve no choice but to obey.” Miranda gave her an unhappy look, needing Allura’s prodding to continue to the rest room. A courthouse guard was standing in front of it, directing women to the next nearest bathroom. An out of order sign had been placed on the door, but Allura knew there was nothing wrong with the bathroom.

“Good, you came.” The black haired woman said, a snide smile on her lips. “Get in there.” She added, pushing open the door. Allura was forced to duck under her arm to enter the room, Miranda following. There was a redhead inside, leaning against the sink. Her night stick was in hand, end crackling with bursts of electricity. Nanny was down on the floor, writhing in pain.

“Nanny!” Allura exclaimed, and tried to rush forward. Miranda grabbed her, the assistant far too aware of the pain that waited at the touch of the guards’ nightsticks. “What have you done to her?!”

“Bitch was trying to get away.” The red head said. “I gave her a little taste of pain as punishment.” She looked Allura over. “You know what will happen if you don’t do as we say?”

“I know you’ll kill her.” Allura retorted, her face angry.

“Don’t give me such a look princess.” Laughed the red head. “It’s just business, nothing personal.”

“Not to me.” Allura told her. “You made this personal the minute you threatened Nanny!”

“Ah well, I can live with a princess’ hatred.” The woman shrugged, then glanced past Allura at the black haired guard. “Watch that they don’t try anything funny. The princess and I are going to be busy for a minute.”

“Busy?” Allura asked, as the black haired woman began tying up Miranda with restraints. “Busy doing what?”

“Nothing too strenuous. Just got to change your appearance a bit to sneak you past all those reporters.” Explained the red-haired woman. She reached for a bag that lay just out of reach of Nanny. It contained several things, make up and an auburn colored wig chief among them.

“What are you planning?” Miranda demanded and was tasered as a reward for her question.

“Oh nothing much. Just going to hand deliver your princess to the prince of Doom.” Smiled the red head. “Now come here!” The woman ordered Allura. The princess felt she had no choice but to comply, though she did it grudgingly. The woman reached out to snag Allura by the chin, turning her face this way and that. A shrewd look was in her eyes, the woman hazarding a guess on what was needed to change Allura’s appearance.

Allura would find her long blond hair bunched up underneath a cap. The much shorter auburn wig was then placed onto her head. Brown contact lens were brought out, altering Allura’s eyes from their normally sparkling blue color. Even a pair of dentures was given to Allura, and once in place the teeth drastically altered the shape of the princess’ face.

Allura stared in the mirror, watching as the woman darkened her skin with some bronzer. It really was shocking, the transformation that took place. Allura looked like a completely different person, someone no one would ever expect of being the princess of Arus.

“Now what?” Allura demanded when the make over was finished with. “You can’t possibly think to get away with this! They’ll notice I’m missing!”

“Not our problem. We just have to deliver you to the designated area. Prince Lotor will take care of the rest.”

“How can you do this?” Allura asked. “How can you hand me over, knowing what is at stake? Arus will become part of the Doom Empire, Voltron will be used to increase their territory. No world will be safe, including yours!!”

It was like looking into a shark’s eyes, the red head so unfeeling. “We’ve turned our back on our home worlds long before you came into the picture princess.”

“Carla!” hissed the black haired woman. Clearly she felt the redhead had shared too much information.

“It’s the truth though.” Carla the redhead said. “What do we care about that dustball of a planet.”

“Now is not the time.” Cautioned the black haired one.

“You’re right….Let’s go.” Carla grabbed Allura by her arm, intent on dragging her out of the bathroom. The black haired guard seemed intent on remaining behind to guard over Nanny and Miranda.

“Wait!” Allura cried out, trying to drag her feet. “What about Nanny and Miranda?!”

“Relax….they’ll be fine so long as you behave. But if you don’t….” Carla didn’t need to finish her threat, Allura shuddering.

“I won’t cause you any problems.” Allura assured her. Her last sight of her friends was that of the other guard goading Miranda into one of the bathroom stalls. Presumedly Nanny would join her, the two being hidden from sight once the door was close. Nanny was still half out of it, her body seeming to shudder and shake from the electrical currents that had washed over her body. Miranda was openly crying, her eyes just as frightened now as they had been earlier. Allura prayed that there wouldn’t be anything else to add to the woman’s fright, even as she had the stray thought that she should be more worried for herself.

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