Pause 25

There was a war room onboard Lotor’s command ship, a large cabin full of maps and models of worlds. Those models had holograms around them, moving pictures of various ships that fought each other in numerous scenarios for control of the world the model represented. The computers stayed busy, trying out every imaginable scenario, discarding the ones that would spell out defeat for the Drules. At any one time, there was over twenty battles being played out over a model of Arus, with mini holograms of robeasts and Voltron also fighting it out for the planet.

Lotor barely paid attention to the holograms, though he did cast a glance at the map that took up space on the room’s largest table. The map showed the landscape of Arus, focusing on the area around the castle of lions. Garrison ships were placed on the map, as were ships that represented Doom. Currently there was so many ships, he couldn’t really see much of the map, the Drule Fleet forming a barricade made out of their ships. Somewhere beneath that barricade were the lions, or at least that is what Lotor hoped.

It had been a full day now since they lost contact with their people on planet Arus. A full day since Garrison had started a jamming frequency. Lotor had no way of knowing what was happening now on planet Arus, but he hoped the barricade remained an effective tool against the lions. But this not knowing for sure had him unsettled, Lotor restless and taking to pacing the corridors of his ship.

Eventually he had wandered into the war room, finding it empty of the usual amount of tacticians and commanding officers. It wasn’t a surprise, they had little to do since this ship and it’s escort, were not actively taking part in any battles. And if Lotor had his way, they would remain free of the fighting, the ship arriving on planet Doom soon enough.

He took his eyes off the map, to glance to the wall length windows that were situated to the left of him. He saw nothing but the brilliant white lights of hyperspace. Even the two ships that escorted the command ship, were lost to that sea of stars. They didn’t register even as dark blurs, though Lotor knew they were out there. They had after all made the jump to hyper speed at the same exact instant the command ship had.

That had been a little over two hours ago, the ships speeding home to planet Doom. His unease still remained, his instincts screaming at him to be wary. It was that same gut feeling that had had Lotor ordering them into hyperspace, even with the distance to Doom exceeding that of what was a safe amount of them to travel. Hyperspace, for all it’s quick and easy means of getting from point a to point b, wasn’t designed for long jaunts of travel. He was risking a lot to get home faster, the engines in danger of overheating. But what else could he do? They had been delayed from Doom for too long.

It wasn’t the only delay. Lotor knew his father was angry, the Drule full of questions and demanding answers. Lotor had not had the displeasure of dealing with King Zarkon himself, instead outsourcing the problem to witch Haggar. He didn’t know what Haggar had told Zarkon, and frankly didn’t care so long as she avoided the whole paternity problem Allura had given them. He even put up with Haggar’s constant bitching, the witch overly annoyed with having to deflect Zarkon’s anger and suspicions.

Now there was no more need to lie to his father. Lotor could tell him everything, without fear of an unpleasant repercussion falling onto Allura. And yet he had still delayed, putting it off for as long as he could. It was as though a part of him wasn’t ready to share his good fortune with Zarkon. A part of him worried the Drule would try to take control of the child, that Zarkon would set out to groom his grandchild into the spitting image of himself. It was something Lotor did not want, the prince feeling if the son was to take after anyone, it would be of himself and not of the King.

Of course, with all his worries, he still couldn’t put off the telling for much longer. Zarkon would not appreciate the reveal of Allura’s condition being dumped on him at the last second. He would want to be prepared, and would want to learn of the news in private so as to better school his reactions from the court. Haggar agreed with this, the witch dropping none too subtle hints at what Lotor must do.

Knowing they would soon arrive at Doom forced his hand, Lotor expelling an exaggerated breath. He picked up the remote that had laid discarded at the edge of the table, and began keying in a sequence. The view screen hung off center as it lowered down from the ceiling. Already Lotor was dismissing the pre recorded battle footage of the lions, instead triggering it’s communication functions.

He would be put through to Zarkon’s private office, the King appearing a few minutes later. Zarkon almost appeared out of breath, as though he had come running the moment he had been informed his son was finally calling. Lotor wondered at the probability of such an act, thinking the King’s impatience might have warranted such a reaction. Especially when Lotor had kept him in the dark for so long.

“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Zarkon demanded as way of greeting. Lotor did not so much as blink, offering a hello to his father. It was a hello the King ignored, Zarkon scowling as he glared at his son. “You’ve been all but missing for days, and have had Haggar give me the run around as to what you were doing! Why have you not returned to Doom, now that you have that insipid little princess in your possession?!”

“There was a matter I had to attend to.” Lotor answered, simple enough.

“A matter? What could be more important than bringing Allura to Doom?” Zarkon raised a scaly black eyebrow. “Do you realize you’ve jeopardized everything with your actions?! Bad enough you let this case get to court all in an attempt to get your hands on Allura, but then once you do kidnap her, you choose to go gallivanting about the galaxy!”

“I had my reasons.” Lotor interjected into King Zarkon’s tirade. His father wasn’t through ranting, smoothly assimilating Lotor’s words and tossing them back at the prince.

“They better be damn good reasons or else I may just have your head on a silver platter, along with that girl’s!”

Lotor fought not to bristle in response to that threat, knowing Zarkon would only seize upon any reaction as a sign of weakness. He bit back the urge to growl about how Zarkon would not be laying so much as a claw on Allura. Instead he projected a calmness he did not feel as he broke the news to his father. “Allura is pregnant.”

For one brief moment silence, Zarkon’s expression priceless. And then the king hiss out a strangled word. “Yours?”

“Of course.” Lotor retorted, a flash of annoyance surging through him. Why did everyone reacted to the news with that question? As if Allura, a princess who practically prided herself on her virtue, would actually sleep around.

“You have proof of this?” Already Zarkon’s eyes were narrowing, his look turning shrewd.

Lotor nodded. “I’ll forward you the results of the paternity test I had conducted on planet Sarook. I’m sure you will want your own doctors to go over the test, if only to make sure this child’s paternity is legitimately mine.” The last was almost bitter, Lotor wishing his father had been the kind of man to accept at face value what was told to him.

Zarkon was nodding slowly. “If this is true, you realize what it means.” Lotor kept his expression bland, knowing Zarkon didn’t give a damn if he married Allura.

“Yes, of course I do. Arus will be ours, unquestionably.”

“We’ve won.” A genuine smile crossed Zarkon’s lips, his fangs being revealed. The King seemed to relax, leaning back in his seat as he gazed at Lotor. He practically reeked of triumph. “Garrison and the Alliance won’t be able to lift a finger to stop us…through your child, we’ll be able to lay claim on Arus. There’s nothing the courts can do to stop us. We’ll finally have that planet, and with it, Voltron!”

“Yes, father. It’s what we’ve been wanting for years now.” Lotor agreed. “We can finally put an end to the war, and get to work on crushing those who ally against us.”

“Exactly.” Zarkon hissed in satisfaction. His eyes gleamed, and he seemed full of renewed vigor. “It’ll be a busy time for us, even more so than usual. There’s plans that must be put into motion.” Zarkon stroked a claw over his chin. “We’ll have to get that princess of yours declared incompetent.”

Lotor blinked, startled emotion taking hold of him. “Incompetent?! What for?!”

Zarkon gave him a patronizing look. “Think with your head Lotor, and not with your lusts! Princess Allura must be declared incompetent. It will leave all decisions for your child in OUR hands. And with it, Arus. With Allura declared unfit, she won’t be able to play regent to her child’s holdings. Someone will have to rule Arus until the child comes of age…of course that someone will be me.” Another sharp toothed smile. “We get control of Arus through her child, and we reap the rewards. We get Voltron, and anything else of worth that pitiful backwater planet has!”

“I made an agreement with Allura that Arus wouldn’t suffer under our rule!” Lotor growled, hardly pleased with the way Zarkon was talking. “Her people are to be treated fairly, her planet to retain some of it’s worth. As for Allura herself…”
“Yes, yes. You want to marry her.” Zarkon was dismissive. “I’m sure that can be arranged, if only to silence your whining.” Lotor scowled, but Zarkon wasn’t done. “As for the agreement you made with Allura, it was null and voided the instant she refused to uphold the documents she signed.” Zarkon smirked. “She’ll be lucky if Arus isn’t burnt to the ground!”

“Father!”

“Careful Lotor. You sound as though you object. You haven’t been letting that girl’s attitudes rub off on you, have you?” Zarkon wanted to know. Lotor glared and shook his head no. “You know Arus must be made an example of. That world and it’s people have defied Doom for too many years. When we crush it, we destroy many world’s hope of resistance.”

“I realize that but…”

“But what?” Zarkon demanded. “Do you have a fondness for that world because it’s your beloved Allura’s planet?” He snorted. “Do you think to win her by extending a kindness to it’s people? HA! She’ll never love you. It’s time you accept that, and take what you can from her.”

“But I don’t want to just use her!” protested Lotor.

“You’ll have to all the same. Love is not for the likes of us. It only leads to madness and misery.” Zarkon replied. The look in his eyes were strange, and for an odd instant Lotor thought his father might be remembering Adaline. The second passed, Zarkon shrugging off whatever memory had plagued him. “Do what you have to, to minimize the problems she will cause. Use the child she carries, and I’m sure Allura will do anything to remain a part of it’s life.”

“I’m not going to cut Allura out of my son’s life!” Lotor snarled. Zarkon barely took notice, leaning forward in his seat. A pleased look was on his face, the King all but grinning.

“A son? She carries a son for you?” Dully, Lotor nodded. “Even better.” An appraising look was given Lotor. “You’ve done well Lotor. This almost makes up for your bungling of the last two years.”

“Almost?” Lotor questioned sharply.

Again that dismissive attitude from Zarkon. “I still think you turn stupid where Allura is concerned. There’s a great many times where you cost us victory because of this obsession with her. This one time, that obsession has gained us the advantage. I will not have you squander it.” A gaze of hard steel was cast Lotor’s way. “Bring them home son. The legacy of our family line, the future of the Doom Empire depends on it!”

Lotor was unhappy, and didn’t try to hide it. “We’re on our way now. It shouldn’t be more than another two hours before we arrive over Doom.”

“Enough time to speak with our lawyers.” Zarkon said approvingly.

“I don’t think you should try to get Allura declared incompetent…” Lotor began, and Zarkon growled.

“If you let your lust for her blind you to what must be done, I will take the child from the both of you! Do you want that?!”

“NO!” Lotor let out his own threatening growl. “You must know…I won’t stand for anyone trying to take my child from me! Not even you father!”

“Remember that anger as you deal with Allura!” Zarkon retorted. “Don’t delude yourself into thinking she would ever willingly let you be a part of your son’s life!” He tried not to flinch, Zarkon hitting on the truth of Allura’s feelings where Lotor and their son were concerned. “And for God’s sake, don’t let her trick you into letting her go!”

“I won’t, I can promise you that much. I will never, ever let Allura be free of me.” Zarkon hardly looked reassured, but he nodded his head in agreement. “I will…” His words were cut off mid sentence, the ship rocking violently. Lotor staggered forward, nearly falling on top of the table as he tried to get his balance. He heard Zarkon shout, but the words were drowned out by the sounds that followed, a loud alarm going off.

“What the hell is going on?!” Lotor snarled, and snatched at the view screen’s remote. Zarkon was shouting things, but the screen was flickering. It reminded him of what happened when a jamming signal was activated, and it was with dread in his heart that Lotor tried to contact the bridge of the command ship. The screen split in half, Cossack’s side flickering just as badly as Zarkon’s. Whatever was causing the disturbance on the airwaves, it was powerful.

“Cossack! Report!” Lotor demanded, words precise and to the point.

Cossack began talking, but static was hissing over his words. Lotor caught the gist of it, trying to read the commander’s lips. “Pulse beam came out of nowhere!” Cossack began. “Knocked us of course and out of hyperspace…”

“WHAT?!” growled Lotor, and glanced to the window to the left of him. He could see the white light of hyperspace, but it was dimming. They were indeed slowing down, and on the verge of being spit out of hyperspace. Already he could make out the shadows of the ships that escorted them, and it would be a small miracle if they did not crash into each other upon their forced exit.

“Trying to stabilize the engines…” continued Cossack. “It…it doesn’t look good…”

“I’m coming to the bridge.” Decided Lotor, and shut down the view screen. His father had already fled, no doubt running off to harass someone into doing something about the malfunctioning communication grid.

“Hurry.” Cossack said simply, and Lotor nodded. The ship was continuing it’s slow spiral out of hyperspace, and even that speed was too fast. Lotor was thrown violently into a wall, the prince gripping the railing there to steady himself. His earlier anxiety had intensified, alarm bells going off in his mind as to who could have been responsible for the pulse beam attack.

It wasn’t loss on Lotor that the jamming signal that had interfered with communications here, might be the same signal Garrison was using on Arus. But would Garrison be fool enough to shoot a pulse beam into hyperspace, and risk killing everyone, included princess Allura? Grimly, he thought that yes they would. Garrison could be pretty ruthless, and they would be desperate to keep Arus and Voltron out of the Drule’s hands. They might very well attempt an attack that could result in Allura’s death if it meant the ensured safety of the rest of the galaxy.

It just made Lotor that more determined to get Allura safely secured on planet Doom. Garrison would never be able to touch her then. He continued to hold onto the rail, pulling himself alongside it as he made his way to the room’s exit. The ship continued to shake, leaving Lotor to feel ill. That sick feeling only increased when they were abruptly dumped back into regular space. He could see planet Doom in the distance, but Lotor felt no joy or relief. And all because over thirty Garrison war ships stood between them and Doom. Scowling, Lotor prayed that his father had understood the situation well enough to send reinforcements. And all because without them, they stood very little chance of winning this day.


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