She stood before the window, Allura staring down at Arus. It was a land unchanged, looking no different since she had signed it over to Prince Lotor. She wondered if that would last, wondered what sort of effect Doom’s occupation would have on the terrain. Would they cut down the woods that surrounded her castle to make way for Drule settlements? Would the sky be blackened with thick smoke as they set up their power plants, would the sweet air reek of poison from the chemicals emitted from their war facilities?
She sighed, knowing these doubts and fears were nothing new. She had been second guessing herself ever since she had signed the documents, Allura unsure if she had done the right thing or not. Faintly, Allura could make out her reflection on the window pane, her eyes looking sad and desperate, her shoulders hunched in defeat. It had been a long time since she had felt this way, such hopelessness, a feeling she was unused to experiencing since the arrival of Keith and the boys.
The door to her prison opened, Allura turning, holding back a sigh as she acknowledge the return of Prince Lotor. He smiled to see her, his body relaxed and at ease. He had been that way since she had signed the document, as though he had not a care in the world. He walked towards her, and she could see his hair was damp, the man freshly showered in preparation for their upcoming nuptials.
“It’s time Allura.” Lotor said softly, stopping in front of her. Allura merely nodded, having seen the transport ship fly by her window, returning from the town closest to the castle of lions. She wondered if they had forced Father Deacon onboard the ship, Allura having mixed feelings about the elderly man performing the ceremony. Some part of her would take comfort to see a familiar face among strangers, but another part worried that the elderly priest would cause a scene, refusing to perform a ceremony when his princess was being forced to marry one of Arus’ greatest enemies.
“I’m just sorry I can’t give you a grand ceremony…..something worthy of you.” Continued Lotor, his gloved fingers tips brushing through her hair. She knew her blonde hair was unruly, Allura watching as Lotor focused on combing her hair into a semblance of order. “At the very least I wish I had had a dress prepared for you.”
“It’s fine.” She said at last. “Simple suits me.”
“Simple is never a word I would use for you Allura.” Lotor told her, still fussing over her hair. “Perhaps later, when things have calmed down, we can hold a renewal ceremony, this time complete with all the preparations.”
“If you like…” Allura said, giving an uncaring shrug of her shoulders. For a second Lotor frowned at her, pulling his fingers free of her hair. That displeased expression of his was replaced by his smile, Lotor offering his arm to her. Allura took hold of it, turning when Lotor did to walk side by side with him across the bedroom floor.
“The ceremony will be broadcast live to both Doom and Arus.” Lotor told her, Allura merely nodded her head. “It will also be made available on garrison’s private channel. All the important parties will bear witness to our joining together.”
“Of course.” Allura said, passing through the doorway of the bedroom. She knew Lotor would want no one to doubt the validity of their marriage, the prince quick to make sure it was done nice and legal, and that any who could contest it would bear witness to it first hand.
“I think traditional vows would be best.” Continued Lotor. “We haven’t the time to really write our own.”
Allura was only half paying attention to him, trying not to show her dejection at her upcoming nuptials. She kept her head held up high, boldly meeting the passing glances of the various Drules that hurried by. She wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of shying away from their eyes in embarrassment, wouldn’t let them see anything but the proud princess of Arus.
All too soon they reached the elevator that led up to the bridge, Allura feeling the flickers of nervousness in her stomach increase ten fold. She worried she’d be ill, thinking it would be bad form to faint at her own wedding ceremony. The elevator was swift, transporting them up one flight in no time at all, the doors opening with a hiss of sound. She took a good look at the bridge, seeing several soldiers standing about at attention, their blaster rifles slung on their hips as they turned to salute Lotor and Allura.
They made up two rows of guards, a small pathway she would have to walk down with Lotor at her side. At the end of the rows, Haggar stood off to the side, her gnarled wooden staff in hand. She was watching over the priest, Father Deacon looking sad and weary. He held a small leather bound bible before him, his hands trembling as he looked at the Drules.
To either side of the priest, stood two veiled nuns, large, beefy women clad in black. One kept dabbing a white handkerchief to her eyes, unable to hold back her tears of despair for Allura’s fate. Pidge was off to the side, still bound and gagged on the floor.
Allura was still looking around, when Lotor coughed to get her attention. She glanced at him, and saw a soldier at his side, holding a bouquet of colorful flowers in his hands.
“I had one of my men pick you some flowers while down on Arus.” explained Lotor, gesturing for Allura to take hold of the bouquet. She did so, recognizing the colorful bunch as wildflowers that grew all over planet Arus. Pinks and blues were mixed in with yellow and white flowers, their smell sweet but faded in potency compared to the perfumed flowers of a florist.
“Thank you…” whispered Allura, looking down at her bouquet.
“I did try my best to give you some normalcy of a proper wedding ceremony.” Lotor said, Allura merely nodding. “Are we ready to broadcast?” Lotor asked, his voice now loud and carrying on the bridge.
“Yes, prince Lotor.” A Drule called out an answer, sitting before a computer. “Doom is ready to receive the broadcast….and Arus and Garrison are also on the line.”
“Excellent.” Lotor smiled. “Begin the transmission.”
The large viewscreens lit up, Allura first seeing one of the conference rooms of Galaxy Garrison. Several of the heads of the department for peace sat around a long, dark brown table. Their expressions were grim, hands folded neatly together as they stared at a monitor of their own. One man, a General Tuso nodded in acknowledgment at Allura, the princess mirroring his gesture.
There was little time for words to be exchanged for Arus was the next to appear on the second view screen, the castle of lions command center a backdrop for Nanny and Coran. Lance, Hunk and Keith stood there, faces obscured by their pilot helmets, their fists clenched together to show their anger. Nanny was weeping, a handkerchief pressed to her face as she openly sobbed.
Coran’s mouth moved, the man’s expression urgent as he tried to speak to Allura. But no sound was forthcoming, and Lotor let out a chuckle. “I thought it best if we mute the transmission from Arus. No need to cause you undue stress with their pointless appeals for you not to go through with this marriage.”
Allura’s lips flattened into a thin line of disapproval, the princess giving Lotor an annoyed look. He ignored it, eyes looking to the third viewscreen. The throne room of Castle Doom came into view, various courtesans standing about before the dais on which King Zarkon sat. The picture zoomed in close on the King’s face, the twisted tyrant wearing a pleased leer as his eyes alighted on his son and future daughter in law.
“Father!” Lotor exclaimed, and with his hold on Allura’s arm, ushered them both into a low bow.
“Ah Lotor….I must congratulate you.” Zarkon said as Lotor allowed Allura to straighten once more. “This is quite a feat you’ve managed to pull off. Going from being the prisoner to taking over a planet. And with very little bloodshed this time around. You are to be commended.”
“Thank you father.” Lotor smiled, basking in his father’s praise. Allura said nothing, just stared straight ahead, trying to ignore the sight of King Zarkon’s ugly face.
“Princess Allura…this is a fine sight to see you brought down at last. Tell me….how does it feel to be the loser yet again?” Zarkon asked, tone mocking as he spoke to her. Lotor’s fingers tightened on her arm, a warning not to speak, Zarkon continuing. “Now Lotor, don’t stop the girl. Let her speak her true feelings.”
“Are you sure that’s wise?” Lotor asked alarmed.
“I can afford to be generous.” Zarkon said. “Fear not, this one time I won’t have your pretty little bride’s tongue cut out for speaking her true feelings.”
“I have nothing to say to you.” Allura said, choosing instead to focus her attention on the view screen that showed her friends and family on Arus.
“You disappoint me princess.” Zarkon sighed, leaning back in his throne. “Have reports been exaggerated about that….sharp tongue of yours? Or do you reserve such insults for my son alone?” He made a tsking sound at her silence, a clawed hand raising to wave negligently in the air. “Oh all right, carry on with your little ceremony. Though really Lotor, I don’t see why you go to all this trouble. I’m sure she can warm your bed just as easily as a slave then as your wife.”
“Father!” Lotor said, aghast. “Do not speak of Allura in such a way.” The princess herself knew her cheeks burned with embarrassment, hearing Haggar snicker at the King’s words.
“Eh…” Zarkon shrugged his shoulders, unconcerned with Lotor’s anger. “I suppose it’s time you stop making bastards and give me legal heirs. And she’s as good a woman as any for that job.” A crooked smile, flashing fangs at Allura. “That’s really all most women are good for, wouldn’t you agree princess?” And still Allura didn’t rise to the bait, leaving Zarkon disappointed once more.
A sound of a throat clearing interrupted the ensuing silence, Lotor nodding at Haggar. She smirked, and with a gesture from her, piped in music began playing, an organ and harp playing the beginning strands of the wedding march.
“Ready?” whispered Lotor to Allura, the girl only able to nod back in reply. He grinned, and began to move, Allura lagging behind him by a few steps. His hold on her arm led her down the pathway between the rows of guards, each Drule saluting as they passed by. Allura’s free hand kept a tight grip on her flowers, knuckles whitening from the force of her hold.
Father Deacon looked into her eyes, his own brown ones sad and resigned. “I’m sorry my child.” He said to her, voice carrying down the pathway to Allura. She fixed him with a watery smile, answering back.
“It’s not your fault.”
Lotor said nothing in response to their exchange, though his footsteps quickened, the man eager to get the ceremony started. The closer they got to the priest, the louder the one nun wailed, her hand reaching into her sleeve, looking for something. She found it just as they cleared past the last two soldiers, and with a yell that was all too masculine, threw a white object into the air.
Several things happened at once, Lotor and Haggar yelling, their surprise apparent as the object exploded in mid air. It set off a blinding flash of light, Allura seeing white dots as she closed her eyes. She barely had time to react, someone slammed into Lotor, the prince’s hand falling away from her arm. Allura turned in what she perceived to be Lotor’s direction, taking an unsteady step forward.
A hand landed on her waist, steadying her. “This way princess.” An all to familiar voice whispered in her ear, causing her to drop her flowers in shock.
“Keith?!” She hissed in disbelief, tone as quiet as she could make it.
“In the flesh.” He confirmed, already guiding her in a direction opposite Lotor’s.
“Wait…” Allura hesitated, pulling against his hold. “You’re too late…I already….already gave Arus to Lotor…!”
“We’ll worry about that later.” Keith said. “Right now we have to get you out of here!”
“But nothing!” He said in response to her protests. “I won’t let you marry that fiend against your will. Now come on!” She sputtered, trying to think up a protest, but her heart was racing, excited at the thought of getting away.
“Don’t forget Pidge!” She reminded him, hearing King Zarkon yelling in the background.
“I won’t…Jensen is already on it.” Keith said, naming one of the palace guards.
“What’s going on?!” demanded Zarkon. “Who’s attacking?!”
Allura cautiously opened her eyes, seeing her vision was starting to go back to normal. The Drules with their light sensitive eyes were having a harder time, panicked yells from the soldiers, their blasters drawn but unable to shoot as long as they couldn’t focus on a target. Keith was in front of her, still dressed in the outfit of a nun, and Father Deacon was walking as fast as he could manage, already rushing towards the bridge’s elevator.
Allura turned her head, and saw the other nun, Jensen in disguise, bent over Pidge, untying his legs. The boy’s hands were free, and he immediately wrenched down the gag, face excited at this turn of events. “Come on!: Jensen said, handing Pidge a laser rifle. The pilot grinned, and stood up, looking for Lotor. For one-second he seemed to consider shooting the prince in the back, Allura’s eyes wide with horror at the thought of Pidge doing such a thing.
“There’s no time!” Keith shouted, and the two men nodded, Pidge reluctantly lowering his weapon.
“Captain Keith?!” Shouted Lotor, already moving to draw his sword. “You dare come here?!”
“Shoot them! Shoot them all!” Zarkon screamed out a command, pounding his fist on the arm rest of his throne.
“Not the princess!” Lotor shouted, and Zarkon snarled.
“Forget about her! She’s lost to you!”
“Never!” Lotor retorted, and the words issued between royalty left the soldiers uncertain of what to do, buying the escaping five a few more seconds of time. It also gave the soldiers a chance to recover their eye sight, Lotor shouting out a command. “Set all weapons to stun. I want them captured alive!”
Laser fire began shooting about the ship, Allura and Keith reaching the elevator at the same time Pidge and Jensen did. Keith turned and started returning fire, shielding Allura with his body. Pidge crouched down low, aiming at the guard’s knees with his rifle, the laser blasts scoring direct hits and causing soldiers to go falling backwards with pained cries.
“Come on, come on!” Jensen said impatiently, banging his fist against the control panel for the elevator. It seemed like an eternity before the bell dinged, the doors swinging open.
“Move!” Keith ordered, and Allura practically fell into the elevator. Father Deacon was right behind her, the old man panting heavily. The three men continued to fire at Lotor and his soldiers, slowly backing their way into the elevator.
“Do something witch!” Lotor screamed, using his sword to deflect the laser bolts that came near him. His sword hummed and sizzled, flickering in power with each shot that landed against the blade. It left him little time to move forward, Lotor stuck in place defending against Keith’s blaster fire.
“I’m trying!” Haggar said, staff held up high over her head. It’s gnarled top glowed a sickening green color, the witch chanting something in a foreign language. But before she could unleash the spell, the elevator doors were closing, the sound of laser fire hitting the metal doors.
“Don’t relax just yet men…” Keith said, checking the charger on his blaster. “We still have to fight our way to green lion. Allura…you take care of Father Deacon.”
“All right…” Allura agreed, though privately she wished she had a weapon. She offered her arm to the elderly priest, smiling at him nervously. “I’m so sorry you had to get involved….”
“Nothing to apologize for my dear.” The priest said, patting her hand. “You didn’t ask for this situation to come about.”
“Okay….we’re here…everyone ready?” Pidge asked, holding the close doors button. At the nod of confirmation from his companions, Pidge released the button, allowing the doors to open. They breathed a sigh of relief to see no sign of Drule soldiers out in the corridor, Keith holding up a hand in a gesture to wait. He stepped out of the elevator first, cautiously scanning the hall.
Allura watched as Keith ran down towards the corner, careful as he eased his body around the bend, blaster ready to fire off a shot. Apparently there was no one there, for Keith suddenly waved at them to follow. “Let’s go, move move!”
Allura and Father Deacon hurried after Pidge and Jensen, the elevator doors closing behind them. They could hear the hum of it’s motors working, already returning to the bridge. Allura knew Lotor had to be going out of his mind with worry and rage, the prince sure to follow after them. She urged the priest to move faster, fearing his slow steps would give Lotor and his men the time to catch up with them.
The old man tried his best, at times running as they moved through the halls. Allura trusted Keith to know the way to the hanger, seeing him move with a purpose as he led them through the corridors. Occasionally they came across soldiers, Keith and the others quick to shoot them dead before they could get locked into a laser fight. It still took time, but eventually they reached the hanger, just as Allura heard Lotor’s shout from behind her.
“Don’t look back dear.” Advised Father Deacon, and now it was his turn to lead her, Allura having hesitated at the sound of Lotor’s voice.
“Don’t let them get away!” screamed Haggar, and now a green burst of energy flew towards them, igniting machinery to the left of them. They ignored the flames, running towards green lion. Allura was relieved to see it free of the metal restraints, it’s hatch open, a few of the ship’s mechanics loitering at the base of it’s feet. She didn’t know what they were doing to the lion, and frankly she didn’t care so long as the ship was capable of carrying them away.
“Why isn’t that lion restrained?!” demanded Lotor, turning to glare at Haggar. The witch paused in her chanting, a guilty look on her face.
“Er…I was having our technicians do an analysis on it…” She admitted, then hastily added. “You said green lion was to be left in my care!”
“And your desperate greed to know how the lions work may have just cost me everything!” Lotor shouted, lips curled in a sneer as he watched his men shooting at Allura and her rescuers. Once again Keith and Pidge held them off, while Allura and Jensen helped the priest make the climb towards the lion’s head. They disappeared inside the hatch, Lotor growing angrier by the second.
He screamed in wordless rage when the lion came to life, it’s yellow eyes glowing with power, it’s head tossing back a roar. Pidge and Keith were backed up against it’s side, shooting desperately, the return fire from Lotor’s men not allowing them a chance to board the lion. But Allura took care of that problem by lowering green lions’ head, it’s mouth opening in invitation for Keith and Pidge to climb onboard.
“Take all ships off stand by!” Lotor ordered, a soldier hurrying off to relay his commands. “I want that lion knocked out of commission!”
Green lion turned, it’s tail lashing about to knock over half a dozen soldiers, their rifles firing aimlessly at the ceiling. Haggar was still trying to shoot her green energy balls at the lion, the magic bouncing off the metal side harmlessly. Lotor watched as green lion ran towards the hanger, shoulder cannons appearing and firing blasts at the closed bay doors.
“Take cover!” One of the Drules shouted, and everyone went running, Haggar grabbing at Lotor’s arm to drag him back out into the safety of the corridor. They heard the explosion of the cannon fire hitting the door, several more shots being lobbed until the metal was destroyed. The wind howled, and green lion roared once more, back legs tensing a second before it jumped off the ship.
“Damn it!” Lotor screamed, slamming his fist into the wall. It left his fingers numb, but Lotor hardly noticed the pain, angered at the loss of Allura.
“Come sire….Let us return to the bridge.” Advised Haggar as alarms went off, the corridor flashing red lights that alerted them to the heavy damage done to the hanger area. “This is only a temporary setback…They won’t get very far…”
“For your sake I hope so witch!” Lotor snarled, turning sharply. He shoved soldiers out of his way, stalking back the way they had come. He was silent as he moved, his eyes furious, and his hand tight around the hilt of his sword. “I will get you back Allura….count on it!”