Mask 14

He had never been more grateful to see the Duke and Drake’s concerned faces than he was now, Lotor breathing a sigh of relief as he passed Nanny to them. The two men worked together, to help pull the bound woman through the hole in the iron fence, the woman grumbling all the while. Lotor waited until she was free of it, and then he too crawled forward, glad to be getting off of the villa’s grounds.

“Do we replace the bars?” Alistair asked, the duke looking at the hole in the fence.

“No time.” Decided Lotor, grabbing him by the arm. “They’ve released blood hounds to track us. Every second we waste brings them closer to us.” He was already dragging the Duke to the cruiser, Devana, Drake and Nanny already seated inside. Devana was next to Nanny, showing surprising concern as she fussed over the woman’s left foot.

“I don’t think it’s broken.” Devana announced as Lotor and Alistair took their seats. The Duke barely had time to slam shut the door, Drake already flooring the engines, the cruiser lurching forward. “I’m no doctor, but it feels more like a sprain. Painful but manageable.”

“Good.” Lotor said, but his eyes were on the road, watching the bars of the fence speed by. He barely paid attention to what Devana was doing, too on edge for any sign of pursuit.

“We made it!” The Duke exclaimed, Alistair excited and relieved. “We actually made it!”

“We’re not out of the woods yet.” Drake reminded him. “They’ll be watching the main roads, especially once they surmise we’ve left the property.”

Devana had straightened, reaching behind Nanny’s back to undo her manacles. They clicked off with a clank, Devana catching them in her hands. The instant Nanny’s hands were free, she tore at the gag, a loud angry bellow issuing out of her. “YOU!”

Lotor turned to look, just in time to see Nanny lurch unsteadily from her seat. Devana made a grab for her, but the woman was surprisingly fast, her movements powered by anger. Seeming to ignore the pain in her foot, Nanny lunged in Lotor’s direction, all but falling on him shouting angry accusations.

“What have you done to the princess?!” Nanny demanded, her hands curled into fists as Lotor reached to steady her. It was a mistake, the instant he touched her, the woman began pummeling her fists into his chest, the blows holding enough force to cause him discomfort. “Where are you keeping her?! You better not have laid one finger on her, you, you monster!”

“Stop that!” Lotor snapped, and grabbed at her wrists, holding her hands back. And still she tried to hit him, violent tremors going through her at the force she exerted to get free.

“Calm down….” Devana added. “You’re safe now.”

“Safe? SAFE!” Nanny let out a hissing sound, some kind of sarcastic, strained laughter that was at war with the tears on her face. “Humans are never safe with Drules!
You kill and you rape, you steal and enslave! I’m no safer than a mouse in a room full of cats!” He opened his mouth, ready to let out an angry retort, but Nanny wasn’t finished. “And my poor, sweet princess was with you for days! DAYS! Who knows what kind of debauched tortures you inflicted on her!”

“I can assure you Allura has not been harmed, nor has she….” Again Nanny cut him off with a scream, her struggles becoming more vigorous.

“Allura?! How dare you assume that intimacy! You’ve no right to address her by name. That’s Princess Allura to you!”

He was beginning to wonder what happened to the woman who had been to scared to do more than whimper and squeal, Lotor casting an eye about for the gag. “You’ll find…” Lotor began, voice a rough growl as he turned his attention back to Nanny. “That ALLURA and I are far closer than you like. Things have changed Nanny…my addressing her such is the least of your concerns.”

Nanny gaped at him for an instant, enough time for Lotor to hope he had rendered her speechless. No such luck, the woman letting out a growl of her own, a surprising imitation of his own. “Just what does that MEAN?! What have you done….what awful, horrible thing could….”

“Heads up!” Drake called out, Lotor grateful for the interruption. “We’ve got company!”

Lotor looked away from Nanny, realizing that during her screaming match with him, they had left the secret road and driven onto the main highway. Lights followed them, a cruiser bearing the Alazne royal family crest giving chase, accompanied by several hover bikes. “Damn!” Lotor swore, and Nanny laughed.

“You won’t get away with this. Prince Tristan’s men will catch you, and then Allura will be safe.”

“Allura’s troubles will only worsen if that scum Tristan gets a hand on her.” Lotor said absentmindedly, hearing Nanny gasp.

“Scum?! How dare you! Tristan is ten times the man you’ll ever be! He is good and kind, and does wonderful work to help the people, why are you laughing!? It’s true!”

“I’ll leave Allura to fill you in on the truth of Tristan’s real character.” Lotor said, and shoved her unapologetic to the floor. “Watch her.” He ordered Alistair, turning to the window to roll it down. Blaster fire whizzed by his face, the cruiser and hover bikes opening fire. Lotor picked up the Duke’s laser rifle, balancing it on the window’s edge, as he began to return fire.

Devana had slipped to the front of the cruiser, taking a seat next to the driving Drake, her hands busy as she activated the cruiser’s onboard weaponry. The pursuing vehicles were about to get a shock, their cruiser illegal equipped with enough firepower to start a small war.

The air around them was charged with laser fire, Lotor waiting impatiently for Devana to join him in attacking their pursuers. A hover bike drew near, the soldier riding on it glaring at Lotor. Laser bolts continued to fire at the cruiser, the prince realizing they were trying to take out their wheels. He swore, realizing the metal shielding of the cruiser did not extend to the large wheels, and frantically began shooting at the soldier.

“What’s the hold up!?” Lotor demanded, vaguely aware of Nanny struggling with the Duke. She was snarling out insults about his parents, damning him for his role in Lotor’s schemes.

“Getting the weapons online is just taking a little longer than expected…” Devana said, fingers pushing various buttons. “It’ll be working any second…”

“It better!” Lotor snapped. “Else we’re easy prey for these fools!” To his satisfaction one of his shots took out the nearest hover bike, the soldier going flying as his ride flipped over. The ensuing explosion was a sight to behold, the pursing cruiser driving through the smoke and fire as the hover bikes veered around the wreckage.

“Don’t panic!” Drake advised, concentrating on the road ahead. Lotor grumbled, but focused on the next hover bike, hitting key points over and over again. Suddenly a loud hum was heard, lights flickering all over their cruiser, both inside and out.

“It’s on!” Devana announced, and Lotor saw segments of the metal on the outside of the cruiser open, various weaponry emerging and firing in an instant. Ion cannons and pulse beams joined the fray, the lasers seeming like static electricity in comparison to the powerful weapons Devana was controlling. Still Lotor continued to fire the rifle, wanting to do his part to help defend their lives.

The last two hover bikes were easily taken out, exploding beneath the drivers. He couldn’t even hear their screams over the explosions, Lotor almost wincing at their violent deaths. Almost but not quite, the prince relieved they only had the cruiser to deal with.

“Shit!” Drake swore, drawing Lotor’s attention to the front of their vehicle. “They set up a blockade up the road!”

“What do we do?” worried Alistair, and Lotor snapped out an answer.

“Drive through it off course!”

“Are you sure?!” Drake said in disbelief.

“It’s that or get caught!” Lotor retorted, and Drake sighed.

“Somehow I knew you’d say that…” He muttered, and the cruiser began to move faster, baring down on the road block. Devana began concentrating on shooting at the cruisers that made up the blockade, and soon explosions filled the air.

“Get in!” She screamed, and Lotor pulled back from the window. But he didn’t have time to close it, feeling the heat of the fires burn close to his face, the thick black smoke pouring into the cruiser as they drove through the wreckage. Everyone began coughing, choking on the smoke, Lotor hearing Drake swear up a storm in between hacking his lungs out.

Laser fire came from behind them, reminding Lotor they weren’t in the clear. They still had one more pursuer to deal with. “Devana!” He shouted, and he heard her answering cry.

“I’m on it!”

She renewed her assault, the cruiser seeming to rattle and shake with the force of all those weapons going off at once. Lotor was on the edge of his seat, staring back at the pursuing vehicle. He didn’t sag with relief until it exploded, a stray wheel rolling past his side of their cruiser.

“Get off the main road…” He heard Devana tell Drake. “They’ll be watching it too closely…”

“Right…” Drake drove until he found one of the highway’s off shoots, the cruiser speeding down it’s pavement. Trees lined either side, but at the speed they were traveling, they all melded into one big dark blur.

“Is..” Nanny’s voice, for once soft and nervous. “Is it over with?” She seemed shaken by the explosions, face pale, eyes wide. She had a right to be, those attackers had been shooting to kill, intent on destroying the cruiser and the people inside.

“Looks that way.” Came Duke Alistair’s answer.

“Looks can be deceiving…” Lotor murmured, keeping an anxious eye on their rear. Mercifully, the road remain clear of all other vehicles, both in back and in front. They continued their flight, Drake taking several more turns onto different roads in a paranoid attempt to avoid detection. The further they got from the villa and the main road, the more run down the roads became until finally they were driving into the slums of a nearby city.

Soon after they pulled up before their hideout, Alistair voicing his relief. “We made it! We really made it!”

“Yes.” Lotor agreed, a smile on his face. “Yes we did.”

“And none of us died!” The Duke added, and Drake laughed.

“I’ll drink to that!”

“Now that sounds like a good idea.” Replied the Duke, hurrying to open the door. Nanny got her first look at their surroundings, her expression wrinkling in distaste. Lotor leaned over her, fighting his amusement as he issued a warning.

“I’d think twice about trying to flee in this part of the city.” He smirked as Nanny looked at him, an angry glower on her face. “The people who live here aren’t too kind to women…even ones with as sour a disposition as yours.”

“At least you finally found a place that suits you Lotor.” He growled at her lack of respect, tempted to slap her across the face. But he held back the impulse, not knowing if Allura was watching from inside the hideout.

“This is where we part.” Devana announced, Lotor turning to look at her in surprise.

“You’re not coming with us?”

“Hey our job is done.” Drake pointed out. “You hired us to get you in and out of Tristan’s villa with the target….not to hang around until you get off the planet.”

“Then this is good-bye.” Lotor held out his hand, and for a second the two just stared at him. Then Devana smiled, and reached out to clasp it, shaking his hand. “You did fine work you two. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

“No, you couldn’t have.” Drake agreed, taking his turn at shaking the prince’s hand. “Tell the Baron we’ll be in touch for the rest of our payment.”

“Will do.” Lotor said, pushing Nanny out of the cruiser. She sputtered angrily at his hard shove, but Lotor ignored her to close the cruiser’s door. Duke Alistair actually gave a salute to the pair inside, Lotor watching as the vehicle drove off at no less a sedate speed than before.

“I think…I’m actually going to miss them.” Alistair said.

“It’s better this way.” Lotor said, walking towards the hideout’s door. He kept a hard grip on Nanny’s right arm, the woman limping bravely behind him. “We’re less likely to get caught if they’re out on the roads in that vehicle.”

“Still…” The Duke sighed wistfully. ‘I’m going to miss having Devana to look at. She was one fine piece of Drule.”

Lotor chuckled, nodding his agreement. “That she was.”

The door to the hideout was opening, the familiar face of Baron Krieg smiling a welcome at them. Lotor pushed Nanny through the doorway, the woman stumbling inside. She righted herself just in time to hear Allura’s voice, the princess letting out a glad exclamation.

“Nanny you’re safe!”

“Princess! My baby!” Nanny limped towards the approaching Allura, the two flinging their arms around each other. Allura’s eyes were sparkling, Lotor realizing she was on the verge of tears. Nanny didn’t even try to hold back, all but blubbering her relief at being reunited with the princess.

“Let me look at you…” Nanny tearfully pulled back from the embrace, casting a critical eye on Allura. Lotor could see the disapproval in her eyes at the way the princess was dressed, the girl still clad in a maid’s outfit. He thought that would be all the fault the woman would find, but her sharp eyes missed nothing, Nanny suddenly easing back Allura’s hair from her face to stare at the faint shadow of a bruise.

“ACK!” She exclaimed, her voice growing angry. “That brute beat you!”

“Nanny no!” Allura gasped in protest, Lotor choosing the moment to angrily slam the door shut. Both women jumped, but Nanny didn’t lose the fire in her eyes, turning to glare at Lotor.

“Nanny, it wasn’t Lotor who gave me this bruise!” Allura said, grabbing at the woman. “Nanny, look at me!” The woman reluctantly turned, her eyes staring at the bruise. “It was Tristan!”

“Prince Tristan?! Don’t make me laugh!” scoffed Nanny. “His highness is a wonderful man, kind and caring, the kind who wouldn’t lift an angry hand to anyone, let alone his beloved fiancee.”

“I am NOT his fiancee!” Allura exclaimed, a hint of anger in her voice. “And you’re wrong about him. He’s not any of that. Oh you can’t begin to imagine the things I have to tell you…Of Tristan’s dastardly deeds, and his plans for galaxy wide conquest.”

“I don’t believe it.” Nanny said, shaking her head. “Prince Tristan would never turn an eye towards hurting others, let alone think of conquering the galaxy!”

“It’s true!” Allura insisted, but Nanny talked over her.

“You’ve been through an awful lot, and I’ve no doubt that Drule has poisoned your mind to the real heroes. But don’t worry…Nanny is here…Nanny will protect you.” Allura looked helplessly over Nanny’s shoulder at Lotor, seeming to plead with Lotor to somehow force the woman to realize the truth. Lotor could only shrug, knowing anything he had to say the woman would refuse to listen. That or she’d misinterpret everything, twisting it around to support her beliefs.

“Ah…but first…” Nanny looked embarrassed. “I need to use the facilities. Then you can tell me what’s happened with you.” A furious look from her had Lotor fighting back a glower, Allura nodding in understand.

“Of course….the bathroom is next to the kitchen….” She watched as Nanny began limping in the direction Allura had pointed, the girl hesitating a moment. “Nanny? Do you need my help?”

“No, no…I’ll be fine.” The woman assured her with a brave smile. “An injured foot won’t hold me down for long….not even being thrown from a second floor window could stop me from returning to your side!”

“A window?” A puzzled Allura murmured, turning to look at Lotor. “Just what on earth happened?”

He hesitated, uncomfortable and wondering how Allura would take the news that he had thrown her beloved Nanny out of a window. The Duke and Baron read his discomfort, Alistair making an announcement. “I think I will go and grab a snack. All the excitement of tonight has me working up an appetite.”

“I think I’ll go with you.” added the Baron, and the two men hurried out of the room, leaving Lotor and Allura alone. He sighed, and lifted a hand to his head, pulling off the cap that had hid his hair.

“It’s a long story…” Lotor finally said, Allura fixing patient eyes at him. He sighed again, the words tumbling out of him hesitantly. “Things didn’t go exactly as planned….We got to Nanny just fine, but it was during our escape that we ran into Tristan’s guards. We had a stand off…but our route was blocked….We ran into one of the spare bedrooms, and barricaded the door.”

Allura seemed to be hanging on his every word, waiting to hear how they resolved the many problems they had faced. “There was a window…it was our only way out…” He braced himself for the worse, blurting out what he had done. “I grabbed Nanny and threw her out the window.”

Allura blinked, seeming slow to register what he had just said. “You…you threw Nanny…out…out of a window?”

“It wasn’t a very high window!” He snapped back defensively. “We were only on the second floor! And there was bushes Allura! It broke her fall!” A stunned silence followed, Lotor relieved Allura wasn’t admonishing him or worse, shouting. “It was the only way…but we made it, and got out of there safely…more or less.”

“More or less?” Allura looked like she was wondering what else could have happened.

“We were followed…there was several shoot outs on the road.” Lotor growled then, a frown on his face. “They didn’t seem to care that we had taken Nanny hostage…Allura, they were shooting to kill.” She gasped at that, hands flying to her mouth. “It’s strange but….”

“But what….” She prodded, and he shook his head.

“No matter….” He didn’t want to worry her, but he had a bad feeling. A feeling that had started when he noticed how easy it had been to get inside the villa, how few guards there had been in the sections of the house they had needed to go to. He had been told he should just accept it as a good thing, but Lotor couldn’t seem to leave it alone. Even the abduction of Nanny had been without much difficulty, Nanny coming along a little too willingly.

Lotor supposed he could write that off as the woman’s desire to reunite with her charge, but a niggling doubt continued to pick at his suspicions. It was exasperated when Nanny came limping back into the room, a hateful look directed at him. Allura looked like she still wanted to know what Lotor had been about to say, but she turned to smile reassuringly at Nanny.

“I’ll leave you alone.” Lotor announced, walking to enter the next room. “I’m sure you have plenty to say to each other.”

“You’re not going to stand guard over us?” demanded Nanny, and Lotor shook his head.

“No, there’s no point. It’s not safe outside, and Allura’s given me her promise that she won’t leave.” He heard Nanny gasp at that, an outraged sound that he didn’t turn at. He left the room, hearing Nanny softly berating Allura for making such a promise, and that made him smile, the prince wondering what Nanny’s reaction would be upon learning just how much Allura had promised to give him.

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