Effects 09

She had sprung into action the instant Lotor locked the door behind him, Allura sliding off the mattress, bed sheet tied securely around her body. It’s end dragged across the carpet, Allura padding barefoot about the room, gathering up her clothes off the floor. Clutching the bundle to her, she moved around the room, eyes intent on a door off to the side.

She had a pretty good idea it would lead to a bathroom, and indeed she was proven right, Allura finding a modest size chamber with built in shower and toilet off in the corners. Part of her knew she should be looking for a way to escape, but hopelessness at her situation kept her from trying. Instead she gave in to another urge, the desire to wash her body strong and overwhelming.

With a sigh Allura set down her clothing on the toilet’s seat, her feet shuffling across the tile as she moved about, looking for soap and a towel. She found them and more underneath the sink’s cabinets, Allura removing the necessary items for her shower. Setting them inside the glass square, she then set about to undoing the knots of the bed sheet, letting the material slide down her body and onto the floor.

She stepped inside the shower, closing the glass door behind her, Allura’s hands reaching for the faucet. She turned the handles, letting the shower head blast her with ice cold water that had her shriek and shiver, Allura hastily adjusting the water’s temperature. For one brief instant she just stood under the running water, listening to the roar of the pipes as it pelted her.

Her hair hung heavy down her back, dripping wet, and slicked over her eyes. Allura kept them closed, her face turned upwards as water rained down on her cheeks, mingling with the tears that were starting down her face. It was an effort to remain standing, she wanted to curl into a ball and just sit on the floor, let the water wash over her, drown her in it’s warm embrace.

But she didn’t have time to feel sorry for herself, Allura knew that, settling for sniffling quietly for a few seconds more. When she opened her eyes, they were determined, shining with the strength she had cultivated in herself ever since her parents had died. She would not let this defeat her, would not let Lotor and his potion bring her down so easily.

With a shake of her head, she began soaping up the towel into a fine, white lather. She glided it across her arms, leaving soap bubbles on her skin as she rubbed the towel vigorously on her flesh. It was as though she was attacking her body in the attempt to clean it, Allura desperate to wash away the pervading sense of dirtiness she felt. Allura cleaned everywhere, not missing a spot, bending down to clean even her toes. And all the while the water poured down on her, until she was practically wrinkling in the shower.

Only then did Allura cease her washing, quick to rinse off the soap, and shut off the shower. She wrenched open the fogged up door, stepping out onto the cold tile, a shiver going down her spine. Retrieving towels, she quickly dried off and got dressed, feeling only marginally better to be garb in her pilot’s uniform once more.

Upon exiting the bathroom she headed straight for the door Lotor had used. It was locked so tightly, that not even pulling on the handle could rattle it in it’s place. It made her mad, Allura kicking the door with her foot. She held back a cry of pain as she stubbed her toe, limping backwards to eye the metal angrily. The keypad with it’s numerical codes blinked red lights at her, Allura frowning. She knew that Pidge would be able to hack the codes needed to get the door open, but she herself had little hope of managing such a feat. Allura wouldn’t even know where to begin, and with an angry snort she turned away from the door.

That put her facing the wide window, Allura staring wistfully at her home, the castle of lions looking small from this height. It was still surrounded by Doom ships, but at least no fire was being exchanged. She knew that could change in an instant, and she despaired at the thought of how Arus was going to come away the victor on this day.

She was always thinking of her planet, worrying for it’s safety and future, and now she wondered what else she would have to do to ensure it’s continued well being. She repressed shudders, wishing her mind wasn’t so inventive in coming up with unwanted scenarios. Especially when the stark reality of the situation was staring her in the face. Doom was winning, she might very well have to give in to all of Lotor’s demands.

She didn’t want to have to get married simply to save her people. Allura wanted to marry for love, and love alone. Perhaps a foolish wish for one in her position, but she had always refused all marriage proposals her advisor had sent her way, wanting a good match not just for her planet but for herself. Now Allura might have to settle for something that at least afforded her planet some freedoms, the princess sighing as she moved towards the computer console.

The documents of surrender were still up on the monitor, green writing across a black background. Allura stared at the words, chewing on her bottom lip in a nervous gesture as she considered the document. She stepped closer to the monitor, absentmindedly sitting down on the chair before it, her hand reaching for the keyboard. Fingers hovered frozen over the board, Allura intent on reading the document thoroughly.

Occasionally the tap of her fingers could be heard, Allura urging the document to scroll downwards to new lines of text. She frowned as she read, itching to make changes here and there to the document laid out before her.

It wasn’t quite as bad as she feared. Yes, Arus would be under Doom’s control, but her people were supposedly to live much as they had before. Allura kept scanning the document, trying to find hidden words for slavery, sure there was some kind of loophole that would force ruination down on the people of Arus. So far she could find none, but she did notice that Arus and her people would be taxed heavily by Doom. They would have to work extra hard in the mines and on the fields to make the goods necessary to earn money to pay the new taxation Doom would force upon them.

At the very least she should be grateful that there was no mention of her people being shipped off to other planets, Allura knowing that the Doom Empire had need of workers to toil on Doom’s land. However her people would be forced to work with dangerous chemical weapons, making bombs and missiles, war crafts for Doom to attack other planets. That was something Allura never wanted her people to have to do, to aid another in their subjugation of another planet.

Even Voltron was mentioned in the documents, being noted as property of Doom, and henceforth to be used as an emissary of war. Her father’s invention would be stained with the blood of innocents if she signed this document, Allura glaring at the screen. It worried her that the Voltron pilots weren’t mentioned in this document, Allura wondering what sort of fate Lotor intended for them, fearing it must be bad if he sought to hide it from her.

There would also be a change not only to the power structure on Arus, but with those who were placed in charge of the various kingdoms. Various members of her remaining family such as her Aunt Orla, would be political prisoners in their own homes. Stripped of all their power, as Drules were placed in command of the many kingdoms on Arus. Allura herself would retain no power so long as she remained unwed. Only through her marriage to Prince Lotor could she hope to retain her title as princess and future queen. That really had her seeing red, Allura sure she would be ruler in name only.

She soon reached the end of the document, seeing Prince Lotor’s signature already in place. All that was required was for Allura to add her own name to the document, a space made right next to Lotor’s messy scrawl. Allura stared at the screen, teeth gnashing her bottom lip, her hands remaining in place as she refused to acknowledge the electronic pen that would transfer her signature onto the document.

She was tempted to hit the button marked delete, a thought that almost made her smile. But she knew it would be a futile gesture, sure Lotor had backed up copies of this document. Allura very much wanted to slam her fists onto the keyboard, but she feared accidentally triggering something in the computer. Instead she let out a small cry of frustration, almost missing the sound of the door unlocking.

It opened with a hiss of air, Allura not turning to see who was entering the room. Her suspicions figured it would be Prince Lotor, and indeed they were confirmed when he spoke out loud, voice calm and not betraying any of the emotions he had shown her earlier.

“Ah…are you ready to sign over Arus to me?” Lotor asked, his question making her clench her fists together angrily. He must have noticed her gesture, continuing to speak to her. “It’s just…seeing you there, looking over the document….I had hoped you’d come to see reason in this matter.”

“Reason?!” Now she turned to look at him, eyes wide with anger. “You think it’s a reasonable request to ask me to turn over my planet to you and your father?!”

“Not to my father…” Lotor corrected her. “He’ll have little if anything to do with the ruling and overseeing of Arus’ affairs.”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better about the situation!” Allura snapped. “Lotor….surely you must realize I can never agree to this….To allow my people to play any part in the conquest of others….to let my father’s invention be used as a weapon of war….it is unthinkable!”

“It is inevitable Allura.” Lotor said, walking towards her. She quickly stood, chair being pushed back as she hurried not to be trapped before the computer console. “Arus will succumb to Doom one way or another. It can be a peaceful invasion, the war ended with our signatures….or it can be done by force…it’s really up to you.” She said nothing, just glared at him, her distaste for his choices showing in her eyes.

“Of course…I can only put off things for so long.” He continued, joining her by the window. He made no move to touch her, holding his hands behind his back as he gazed out on the land below them. “My father will grow impatient with my lack of action…Haggar has been keeping him abreast of the situation, he’ll want to know why Arus’ fleeting resistance hasn’t been obliterated already.”

“I will not be moved to sign those documents, even with the threat of King Zarkon hanging over my head.” Allura retorted.

“It will be most unfortunate for your people if you don’t sign.” Lotor told her, Allura staring at his profile. “My father will not be half as lenient as I am in regard to the care and safety of the people of Arus.”

“I know that…” She admitted, shoulders shaking as she shuddered. Allura knew what sort of hardships and perversions Zarkon would put on her people, their lives would be a living nightmare if King Zarkon had his way. “But what else can I do?”

“Please Allura…” Now he turned to her, his eyes softening slightly. “Sign the documents…Save your people a lot of trouble.”

“What of the Voltron force?” Allura asked instead, for now trying to evade the subject of the legal documents. “I noticed their fate wasn’t outlined in the papers. What do you intend to do to Keith and the others? Kill them?”

“That’s up to you…” Lotor told her.

“What do you mean?” Allura questioned, then followed up with an answer of her own. “Are they to be hostages to my good behavior….like Pidge is?”

“If you like.” Lotor gave a graceful shrug of his shoulders. “Or we can always send them back to garrison. They needn’t be a concern.” She was quiet, so he continued, Lotor still speaking in that calm, unaffected manner. “But if you need them near in order to convince yourself that you had no choice in the matter….well that can be arranged.”

“What do you mean?!” She demanded angrily.

“I think you’d like to play the martyr in this.” Lotor answered. “You can’t admit that this would be the right thing to do, you need to comfort yourself with the idea that you were forced. That you had no choice. If the lives of your fellow pilots were in danger….well…would anyone blame you for signing over Arus to save them?”

“No…” She shook her head, closing her eyes. “Don’t….leave them out of this!”

“I am trying to be fair here Allura….trying to help you help Arus. But you’re making it so difficult!” Lotor exclaimed. “We have you and one of the lions onboard this ship, the castle is surrounded by my fleet. They dare not launch the lions, and they most definitely can not form Voltron. There is no other way to come out of this, I offer you the best deal possible….sign the documents….and…”

“And?”

“And be my bride…” Lotor said, a hand reaching forward. He gently cupped her right cheek, caressing her with his fingertips. Allura tried not to be repulsed by his touch, her eyes fixed staring into his.

“Why even ask me…?” Allura questioned, searching his eyes for a sign. “Why not just use your potion to force everything out of me? My planet, and my consent….? Why bother with any of this? Just take what you want and be done with it!”

“Because the potion can’t give me what I want!” Lotor exclaimed passionately, closing the distance between them. Allura backed up with a gasp, her body pressed against the window pane as he towered over her. “Allura….I don’t just want your body….I want your heart…”

“My heart?” She echoed, seeing him nod.

“Yes! I want you to feel the same way I feel about you!” Lotor bent down, his forehead pressed to hers, golden eyes staring with determination into hers. He grasped her right hand, bringing it to his bare chest, placing it over where his heart would be. “To feel the love, to feel the sincerity of my emotions…the depth of them and my desire for you…Allura, I worship you and the ground you walk on. If I could have you return those feelings, even just a little….I would be a changed man…”

“Would you really?” Allura asked, not fighting to get her hand back.

“Yes!”

“I…just don’t know…” She looked away from him, hearing him sigh. “It’s not that easy to change…and the things you have done….I find it hard to forgive…” He let go of her hand, and took a step back from her.

“In an hour an official from Arus will be brought aboard this ship.” Lotor announced, voice again cold and lacking any hint of caring. “We will be married, for better or for worse. You have until then to come to a decision over Arus’ fate…”

“There you go again, deciding everything for me!” Allura cried out, angry. “You say one thing, and do another! How am I to know what you really mean?!”

“I can only hope my future actions will be enough to convince you that I love you.” Lotor answered, hand reaching into his pocket. “Do you see this Allura?” He withdrew a small vial of purple liquid, the mixture reflecting the sunlight on it’s surface. “Haggar gave it to me just before I left her. It’s the potion unchanged….She urged me to give it to you, to force you to surrender Arus over to us….but I’ve decided against it…I want this to be your decision, not some symptom of a drug induced mind.”

“And yet you didn’t destroy it…” Allura pointed out, staring at the vial. “You could give into the temptation to use it at any time….!”

“Then let me prove to you I won’t.” WIth that Lotor tossed the vial down onto the floor, his foot coming down to smash down on the remaining shards. A puddle of purple dampened the carpet fibers, leaving a permanent stain of what he had just done. “Allura, I mean what I say…it’s up to you now. No tricks, no threats against the little pilot, no potions or force. Do the right thing for Arus…and for us…”

She was staring at him, seeing Lotor turn from her. “Wait!” She nerved herself to touch him, her hand grabbing his upper arm. “If…If I do this…” She was licking her lips nervously as he turned to look at her. “I want a change made to the document…”

“Allura no…” He began, but she interrupted him.

“I want it down in writing that the Voltron Force won’t suffer for Doom’s occupation of Arus.” She told him. “I want assurance that Keith and the others will live and be safe and healthy.”

“Very well…that much I can do…” She let go of him with a sigh, seeing Lotor walk over to the computer console. He sat down before the monitor, and began typing in the changes to the document. Allura stood behind him, watching the writing on the screen carefully. She spoke out loud to supply him with the full names and titles of the four male members of the Voltron Force, leaving nothing to chance where they were concerned.

“There.” Lotor said, leaning back in his seat, his head turned to look at her. “It’s done. Now will you sign?”

“I….I…” Allura was still hesitating, offering one last look out the window at her castle. It was beautiful with it’s white stone, and gleaming gold turrets. It’s banners were unfurled, waving in the slight breeze of the day. She knew it wouldn’t look so clean and whole if the fleet unleashed it’s full power against it, knew the sky would go from a pale blue color to being lit up with the glow of fire and smoke as ships did battle with the castle. The terrain down below would be set ablaze from the embers of misguided missiles, and once again her people would come under attack by laser fire.

“Allura?” She barely heard Lotor, she was still comparing the ugly future that awaited her people and the safe one she could provide by signing over her planet to the prince. She didn’t even resist when Lotor put the pen in her hand, the man guiding Allura over to the electronic reader. She blinked, seeing her hand tremble as she began to write out her signature, a tear escaping her eye as she handed over Arus’ future safety to Lotor.


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