Baron Krieg and Duke Alistair were in the midst of a state of panic, clearly having worked themselves up before bursting into the bedroom. Even now, as Lotor gestured for silence, his eyes shooting them a warning look, they continued to vibrate with anxiety, Krieg going so far as to wring his hands together in a nervous gesture. Alistair was biting his lip, clearly going through great pains to restrain himself from speaking anymore.
Allura was only slightly better than them, showing wide blue eyes that could not hide the fear she felt. It was proof how rattled her encounter with Prince Tristan had left her, rendering a princess that was battle hardened into a nervous mess. And still Lotor admired her for her attempt at bravery, Allura managing to retain some manner of calmness aside from her panicked cry when she first learned news of Tristan’s intentions.
“Now…” Lotor began, giving a slight pat to the back of Allura’s hand as he fixed his eyes on the Baron’s face. “What is this about Allura being Prince Tristan’s fiancee?”
“That’s what they’re calling her on the news!” exclaimed Krieg, still doing that wringing motion with his hands. “They practically talk as though the princess is already married to him!”
“But she’s not.” Lotor was quick to point out, his lips quirking into a humorless smile. “And even if she were, there are ways to remedy that state.” Such as a quick but painful death, he thought to himself, liking the thought of killing Tristan himself.
“There’s so much information going out on the air waves…it’s hard to know what to believe, and we know the truth!” Alistair spoke, unable to keep his tongue still for longer than a few minutes. Lotor didn’t fault him for that, merely making an impatient gesture with his hand.
“I want to see these broadcasts for myself.”
“Of course.” A bob of the Baron’s head, Krieg hurrying over towards the bed stand where a rectangular shaped object lay. A few pressings of the buttons on it’s surface, and a whirring sound was heard, everyone turning to watch as a view screen was lowered down from the ceiling. Krieg fiddled around with more buttons, the screen filling with people, channel after channel of reporters, their expressions ranging from serious to excited as they talked on what they knew of the story they were reporting on.
Lotor snatched the control from Krieg’s hand, quickly punching in the numbers for one of the more reputable news channels in this area of the galaxy. It was one that broadcast to all nearby star systems, Lotor keeping his face calm so as not to show his disappointment that even they had picked up on the story.
“At this rate it won’t be long before it reaches back to Garrison!” exclaimed Alistair, and Lotor all but hissed at him to be quiet. The Duke looked confused until Lotor gave a meaningful jerk of his head towards Allura who was watching the news cast with a grim expression on her face. She appeared not to have heard the Duke’s words, or if she had, the meaning had not registered with her, and for that Lotor was grateful. Garrison was just one step away from Arus, and he did not want her getting excited over the thought of the Voltron force rescuing her. Lotor knew if they arrived, there’d be a good chance they’d snatch Allura away, not only from Tristan, but from Lotor himself! It was something he could not allow, the prince hoping he could get them off planet before that happened.
For now he focused his attention on the screen, arms crossing over his broad chest, as he listened to the reporter speak. She was a familiar face, with her rust red hair wound back in a bun so tight it pulled the skin of her face taut. She was all business, dressed in stark gray colors that did nothing for her complexion. Her expression was stoic, the woman deadly serious as she spoke about the crisis on planet Alazne.
Her voice was deep, holding no inflection as she spoke, not betraying her private thoughts on the situation that had happened. As she talked, the screen ran a continuous line of text below her, updating those who had just tuned in to what was going on, not just on Alazne but in the rest of the galaxy. Lotor barely paid attention to those words, only interesting in the present crisis he was involved in.
The reporter was soon replaced with a still picture of Allura, a shot of her in her pilot’s uniform, helmet tucked under her arm. Allura was smiling, caught in a moment of happiness as she looked somewhere beyond the camera’s lens. The reporter spoke, naming her as the princess of Arus, and recently betrothed to Prince Tristan. The words seem to stab arrows into Allura, the girl flinching back every time the reporter stressed that Allura was to be married to Tristan. It didn’t help things that it was having an effect on Lotor, agitation working it’s way through him as he fought back a growl.
“As you can see from these pictures, this is the carriage the kidnappers were rumored to use last night.” Still shots of Tristan’s private transport appeared on the screen, fuzzed around the edges from the speed in which the carriage had traveled. The driver was seen on top, his face one of terror as the masked Duke and Baron sat with him squished between them.
“Thank the dark Gods we kept our masks on!” Muttered the Baron. Lotor hissed at him to be silent, staring at the screen as the reporter continued to speak, identifying the carriage as belonging to Tristan. She stressed that the planetary police were still looking for it and the driver, stopping short of begging the viewers to contact them with any and all news they may have had in relation to the roads the carriage had traveled.
“Damn….we’ll be lucky if no one paid any attention to the carriage last night.” Lotor sighed, wondering if anyone had been up that late to catch sight of their flight from Tristan’s villa. “Where is the carriage now?”
“We’ve gone and dumped it in a lake some fifty miles from here.” The Baron smiled. “That should set them off on the wrong path, should they discover the remains. The horses have all been set free, as for the driver….”
“The driver?” Allura turned away from the screen to look at the Baron. “You didn’t hurt him did you?” Another warning look from Lotor, the prince interjecting his answer in smoothly.
“Of course not Allura. He’s merely….resting in the Baron’s dungeon.” Lotor didn’t bother to inform her that the Baron’s dungeon was really a locked wine cellar, nor did he share his private suspicions that the man was probably already dead. Either way, she seemed to accept his words, looking relieved.
“Eh look….they got a picture of you on the screen.” Lotor turned back to the view screen, and for a second his calm mask slipped, the prince scowling at the sight. It was not a flattering picture they chose of him, taken at a bad angle, and showing him covered in splatters of blood. The reporter began a prepared speech about him, stating his age of twenty-two, and talking about his long list of misdeeds. And there was many, enough to damn him over three times in the eyes of the people of Alazne, even before she began talking about him as a deranged stalker obsessed with the princess of Arus.
Of course, a picture of Prince Tristan soon replaced the one of Lotor, the reporter’s voice softening slightly as she began talking of the benevolent man, and his many accomplishments. His work with orphans, his donations to charity, his peace talks, all were mentioned, painting him a complete opposite of Prince Lotor. It was clear who the news favored as the champion in this story, Lotor hissing out a sigh as he wished he could prove to them just how bad a man Tristan was behind closed doors.
“The prince has yet to give a statement of his own to the press, declining all requests for an interview.” Said the reporter. “He’s currently focusing all his attentions on recovering his fiancee, but we have managed to secure an exclusive interview with someone that is close to both the prince and the princess.”
Lotor didn’t care about interviews with some fame seeking noble, already turning away from the view screen. The wheels of his mind were turning, Lotor already making plans on how to get off the planet when he heard Allura gasp, a shocked no escaping her. A glance at her face showed her looking pale, the girl stepping closer to the screen as she all but gaped at the person on it’s surface.
Lotor took a good look, seeing that nanny of hers, her brown hair curled in it’s familiar style, peeking out from beneath a hat pinned in place. She was dressed in a reddish brown traveler’s cloak, looking prim and proper as she clutched a large black purse in her hands. Her eyes were tired, thick smudges beneath them showing she had gone without sleep this past night.
“Nanny.” Allura said, a hand to her mouth as she stared. “I forgot all about her! She must be so worried about me!”
A name flashed under Nanny’s hands, her title as Allura’s nanny also being listed. The reporter turned to her, a welcoming smile on her face. “Gertrude, thank you for speaking with us.”
“Please, call me Nanny.” She answered, her voice holding the hint of restrained tears to it.
“Of course.” The reporter nodded her hand, and for a second she was silent, as though she was mentally reviewing what questions to ask Nanny. “I understand you traveled from Arus with the princess as her chaperone. It must be quite a shock to you, given what’s happened.”
“Yes.” Nanny nodded her head, taking a deep breath. “I…It’s all been so horrible!” Nanny exclaimed, bursting into fiery passion as she spoke. “To think that my poor baby has been kidnapped by that fiend Lotor! Who knows what he is doing to her at this very instant!” She suddenly reached for the microphone, yanking it from the startled reporter’s hands. “Please!” Nanny leaned forward, eyes urgent as she spoke. “I implore you. If you know anything, anything at all, please contact the palace! Allura must be returned!”
The reporter managed to wrest back control of the microphone, looking a bit frazzled in the process. “Yes, we shall all continue to pray for the princess’ safe return. Nanny…I understand that when Princess Allura arrived on Alazne, she was still single. How did this engagement come about?”
“It’s all been a bit of a whirl wind romance.” Nanny managed a watery smile. “I wasn’t present for the details of course but I understand they fell in love at his masquerade ball.” A glance at Allura’s face, showed Lotor how shocked she was by her nanny’s words, the princess shaking her head in denial. “His highness had just proposed they unite their hearts and their planets together, when that dastardly devil Lotor burst into the room. He gave Prince Tristan an awful beating, the prince is lucky to have escaped with his life!”
“No doubt he was injured in the process of trying to protect the princess.” Said the reporter, to which Nanny vigorously nodded her head.
“Oh yes. Prince Tristan would not have let Allura leave with Lotor, not while he was able to still draw breath! He fought valiantly but was no match for a Drule’s strength, not even a mongrel half breed like Prince Lotor.” Lotor growled at her insult, Allura touching his arm with a comforting caress of her own.
“She doesn’t know.” Allura said, trying to soothe him. “She thinks Tristan is a good man…She’d be horrified if she knew he got his injuries because you were protecting me from him.”
“I doubt your nanny would look favorable on me, no matter what I choose to do.” Grumbled Lotor. That seemed to put Allura at a loss for words, the princess sighing as she turned her attention back to the view screen.
“Prince Lotor is a monster! A terror! Who knows what he will do now that he knows my baby is in love with another man!” Nanny pulled out a handkerchief from her purse, dabbing at her eyes. “The tragedy of what he has done has colored what was supposed to be a joyous occasion. Tristan is besides himself with self hate, faulting himself for the loss of his fiancee. He’ll do anything, pay any amount to get her back.”
The woman continued to chatter on, alternatively crying and yelling, showing an extreme array of emotions as she talked about the three royals, and the scandal that followed Allura’s kidnapping from Tristan’s mansion. Lotor all but tuned her out, looking instead at the pale Allura, who trembled as her nanny talked about bringing her back to her fiancee.
“Will she believe you when you tell her the truth?” Lotor inquired, his voice drawing her attention away from the view screen.
“I don’t know. It’s as you said. Tristan has built up quite a reputation….and you…you…”
“I have not.” Lotor snorted, knowing his misdeeds were numerous. “If anything, your nanny is more apt to believe the roles reversed, with me being painted the rapist.”
“Yes.” Allura agreed, her voice faint.
“Prince Tristan has kindly offered to let me stay at his home while the search continues for Allura.” Came Nanny’s voice from the screen. “I am ever so indebted to him, and will do anything I can to help.”
“As should we all.” The reporter said, at which point Lotor turned off the view screen.
“Great, another problem.” The Duke said, sighing. “That makes how many now?”
“I’ve stopped keeping track.” Answered the Baron.
“Problem?” Allura asked, but the two Drules ignored her.
“The space ports have been put on lock down.” Continued the Duke, looking at Lotor. “Even if we could hire a ship, we wouldn’t be able to leave the planet now. Not to mention they’ve prohibited any and all Doom ships from landing planet side.”
“If I have to, I’ll have my fleet blast it’s way into the port.” Lotor said, unconcerned at the loss of life such an act would entail. “They won’t keep us here for long.”
“What is the problem with Nanny staying with Tristan?”
Again she was ignored, the men discussing the situation between them. “Perhaps you can contact the King.” Suggested Baron Krieg. “Surely if you petition for aid, he’d send help.”
Lotor let out a derisive snort, shaking his head as he eyed the Baron. The look he flashed him was not friendly, implying that Lotor thought the Baron was stupid. “My father has always been one to let me sink or swim. He’ll leave the details of how I get out of this mess to myself. However, contacting him is not an option at this point, even if he would help.”
“They’ll be monitoring the air waves fool!” Snapped Lotor, giving a disgusted curl of his lips. “As soon as we try to make any calls, they’ll work to track us down. And right now we don’t have a secure location, or a place to flee to should this one get compromised. A fact I want you to remedy immediately!”
“Yes, sir!” The Duke said, and Krieg nodded his head.
“It won’t be long before they come knocking on our doors. They are bound to start going through the guest list….”
“Excuse me, but will someone please explain to me what the Duke meant?” interrupted Allura.
“Paying visits to people’s homes and hotels. It won’t be long before they realized who the Drules that accompanied you were.” Continued Krieg, with a sigh.
“Lotor! What is it you’re not telling me?” Allura demanded, grabbing at his arm. She pressed against his side, staring up at him, her eyes narrowed into a glare. “Why are you all ignoring my questions?!”
“It’s nothing, really…” Lotor said, not wanting to tell her. She frowned, her fiongers digging into his arm, and even that action pained her, her bandaged fingers surely hurting.
“You know I’ll figure it out eventually!” Allura pointed out. “So just tell me already!”
“She’s right you know.” Krieg spoke up. “The princess is not stupid.”
“Of course she isn’t!” snapped Lotor, but still he hesitated. He knew with absolutely certainty what would happen once her eyes were opened to the full meaning of the Duke’s comment. Allura was still staring at him, and now her expression took on an imploring tone, blue eyes earnest as she gazed at him. Lotor let out a heavy sigh, choosing to be blunt about the news. “Tristan has just set himself up with the perfect hostage.”
“Hostage?” A frown then, Allura still not understanding.
“Your nanny.” Clarified Alistair. “She thinks the prince is doing her a kindness in allowing her to stay at his home. But in truth….it’s to keep a close eye on her. To use her against you.”
There was no helping it now, Lotor holding back a sigh as he went to explain in a way Allura could not misunderstand. “”He’ll threaten her, torture her if need be, maybe even kill her. All to get you to return to him. And that foolish woman is walking into his trap completely unaware!” He watched the comprehension dawn in Allura’s eyes, the girl letting go of his arm to take a horrified step back.
“No!” Anguish was in her tone, her hand raised to her lips as she shook her head in disbelief. “Oh Gods, no…I can’t let that happen….” Almost as though she wasn’t thinking straight, she moved towards the door, poised to flee.
“Allura!” Lotor snatched at her arm, keeping her from going any further. “Where do you think you are going?!”
“I have to go back, don’t you understand?!” She whirled around to face him, eyes flashing with misery. “I can’t just sit back and let Nanny be alone with that monster. Not when I can save her.”
“It’s what he wants princess!” exclaimed Krieg.
“Yeah, don’t give in to him. Don’t play right into his hands.” Added Alistair.
“I won’t let you do this.” Lotor said, tightening his fingers on her arm.
“You can’t stop me!” Allura all but shouted, temper flaring at his smirk.
“Oh can’t I?” Lotor pulled her to him, watching impassively as she struggled and hit against his chest. “Think Allura. You’re on a strange planet, with no weapons, no Voltron Force, no lions. You don’t even know which direction the town is in, let alone how to get to the Tristan’s villa. You don’t even have proper clothing to leave this room. And you think you’re going to fight your way past me, past the Baron and the Duke, all the servants, and the guards on your own?!”
Her eyes narrowed further, but she stayed her fists, just glaring at him. “I know you’re not that foolish, not that deluded to think you can do this by yourself.”
“Then HELP me!” She shouted. “Help me to save Nanny.”
“Right now it’s all I can do to evade the police and Tristan’s men while stuck on this miserable planet.” Lotor snorted. “Do you really expect me to divert resources to save a woman, a woman I may add who hates my guts and would be happy to see me skewered on Tristan’s sword?!”
“It’s the right thing to do!” Allura retorted angrily. “You can try to keep me here, but I’ll escape. I’ll go back and save Nanny, give myself to Tristan if that’s what it takes to spare her from any torment.”
“It’s what he’s counting on you to do!” roared Lotor, wanting nothing more than to shake some sense into her. “Don’t you see? He let her do that interview in the hopes you would see it. That you would see and come running back to him, you’re about to play right into his hands and give him everything!”
For a second it looked like she was going to argue with him, and then she did something he had not been expecting. Allura burst into tears, lips quivering as she let out heart felt sobs. Lotor blinked, letting go of her, watching as she covered her face with her hands. “I hate you!” It was soft, spoken like a whisper, but he heard it all the same.
“Truly I hate you!” Allura repeated, her shoulders shaking with her grief. “That woman is like a mother to me, she raised me in place of my dead parents…I can’t bear the thought of her torment!”
Lotor couldn’t imagine being that devoted to a servant, having never known the love of one, not even those who had raised him in the place of his dead mother. It left him staring, unsure of what to say or do, and from the looks his friends were exchanging, they were just as at a loss as him.
“Um…I uh…think I better go check on the guards.” Krieg began, backing towards the door.
“Yeah, and I uh…need to go check on the dresses….” Alistair said, also hurrying out of the room. Lotor did not watch them go, instead glaring at Allura with a smoldering intensity. She hmphed at him, turning her back towards him even as she continued to sniffle loudly.
“Cowards, the lot of them.” Muttered Lotor angrily. “The sight of a weeping woman is enough to make them turn tail and run….” Allura said nothing to this, still rubbing at her eyes with the back of her hands. He sighed and approached her, his footsteps giving away his movement.
“Don’t touch me!” Allura snapped, not bothering to look at him as he hovered his hands over the top of her shoulders.
“Allura….” Lotor sighed and dropped his hands, but did not move away from her. He stared at the back of her, seeing how her shoulders shook with the effort to suppress her sobs. “Please….cease this crying. It accomplishes nothing.” Except to tear at his heart.
“Do you think I WANT to cry?!” She demanded, voice catching on a sob. “But when I think of what Tristan could do to Nanny….and how you won’t let me go to her rescue….they just won’t stop.”
“Allura, self sacrifice is a noble but ultimately futile thing.” Lotor said. “I’m sure your nanny would not want you to submit to rape on her behalf.” She was silent at that, Lotor risking a half smile. “You know I am right. Just as you would do anything for that woman, she too would do anything for you.”
“If you understand that much…” began Allura, turning to look at him. “Then why can’t you understand why I must do this?”
“Oh I understand.” Lotor said grimly. “I just don’t like it. Your devotion is a thing to be respected, but I won’t allow you to do anything stupid or put yourself in harm’s risk.”
“You’re taking away my choices again!” Allura snapped, her glare heating up further. “I will not sit back and be dictated too!” Choices, again that word, Lotor reminded of how she felt she never had control of her own life, her own decisions. It pained him to even think he was being the same as her care givers, and yet he was sure that in this instant he was right, knowing better than Allura what the best course of action was for her.
His silence bothered her, her tears drying for the moment as she took on a desperate look. “Lotor please….I’ll do anything you want.” A shaky sigh from her, Allura licking her lips before she continued. “I’ll….I’ll marry you, I’ll have sex with you, anything, just so long as you let me go get Nanny.”
His heart leapt at her words, but outwards Lotor was composed. It wasn’t the heart felt acceptance of his proposals to her, but it was an act of submission that she would agree to be his. And all to save the life of one insignificant woman. “All right….I’ll hold you to that.” Her face suddenly lit up, Allura looking relieved.
“You mean it? You’ll let me go to her?”
“No, but I will work to steal her away from Tristan.” Lotor said. He chuckled, which made Allura frown. “You might say I am an old hand at kidnapping women. It shouldn’t be too hard to send someone in to take her from the mansion.”
“You don’t know Nanny.” Allura sighed. “She won’t go willingly with whoever you send to fetch her. And it sounds like Tristan will have plenty of guards around his home.”
“Ah but they’ve never come up against a determined Drule.” Lotor smirked. “You’ll see Allura. I’ll get your nanny back for you.”
“Thank you…” She said solemnly, relief in her eyes. “How will you do this?”
Lotor grinned, and took hold of her hands, his eyes twinkling with mirth. “You just worry about how you are going to break it to Nanny that you are marrying me.” She blanched at his words, Lotor fighting back his laughter for he knew just how stubborn and single minded the woman was when it came to Drules. He knew it was an unenviable task he had just given Allura, one that was almost as problematic as the one he currently had. His mind was already working, trying to think out all angles as he wondered just how he was going to pull of the feat of rescuing Nanny from Prince Tristan…..