Pride 01

Majestic came to mind when one looked upon the room, it had a stately air to it, all hard wood floors and walls that were painted a brown so dark it was almost black. Those walls shone with a reflective sheen, reflecting the room’s surroundings on all sides. He liked the reflections for a different reasons, the walls a mirror that allowed him to peer over the shoulders of those who called upon him.

Not that they openly tried to hide many things from him, the gathered men and women careful to bring to the table only the knowledge with which they wanted him to possess. He’d often smirk in private, knowing he had spies to ferret out this council’s deepest and most personal secrets. Even now, he knew just who was in bed with whom, and who plotted to back stab and betray another, and just which of the women present here was harboring murderous thoughts in her heart.

Yes, there was little that stayed hidden from him, and he knew the council would quake with fear, each and every one of them, to know how informative his spies were. So he fed them parcels of tidbits, letting them ponder just how much he knew, sometimes giving them enough rope to hang themselves with. Right now he was considering the man to his right, the tall green scaled Drule who had dared to push a tall stack of paperwork before him.

This Drule was waiting impatiently for him to take more than a passing glance at the documents. But he barely looked, fixing his gold gaze elsewhere. Frowns met his eyes, the council displeased, their worry making them forget their place. He might ordinarily rage at that, but for once even he recognized the severity of the situation.

“King Zarkon…” The green scaled Drule was calling out his name, gaining his attention once more. He didn’t seem to realize how dangerous it was to be the sole focus of Zarkon’s attention, the King narrowing his eye at him. “Something must be done.”

Zakron fought to keep the scowl off his face, not liking anyone pointing out the obvious to him. He was well aware of the situation they had at hand, and the need to correct it before it grew even more out of control.

“Arus must be stopped.” Continued the Drule, and gave a wild gesture of his hand, fingers pointed at the tower of paper before Zarkon. “This is just a small taste of the damages that kingdom’s interference has cost us. The planets lost, wealth and slaves stolen from us!”

“This cannot be allowed to continue!” It was a woman who spoke, her scaly skin colored a sickening orange. Her head was nearly bald, save for the pony tail that sprouted out the very center of it, a darker orange descending well past her shoulder blades. “We cannot afford the losses we keep incurring at Arus’ hands.”

Zarkon said nothing to this, listening to the agreeing hum of the other members of his council. They were all enraged by Arus’ constant interference, maddened by the loss of power and money. Truth be known, so was Zarkon, the King hating that another planet could prove a match for Doom. At least when it came to fighting power, for he felt no one could be the equal of a Drule’s ruthlessness and thirst for conquest.

He held back his sighs as he listened to the orange scaled woman speak, the women detailing the most recent of Doom’s losses. What should have been a flawless victory had ended with Doom’s retreat, their tail between their legs as they ran from Arus’ assault. It was becoming a recurring problem, Arus appearing to deal out defeat after defeat to the Empire.

His beloved Doom was crumbling before his eyes, his fledging empire having it’s life snuffed out before it could properly take hold of other worlds. How many planets had they lost by now? At least fifteen, which was as shocking as it was insulting, Doom suffering for too many losses. They were wasting time, effort, and resources, and coming away with nothing. And all because of Arus, that upstart world ruled by a human King who thought himself better than the Drule.

It hadn’t always been like this. In the beginning, Doom had had it’s success, riches after riches landing in the Drules’ laps. Worlds fell under the might of the Doom Empire, whole kingdoms crushed, their people enslaved. Zarkon’s empire had begun what was meant to be a galaxy spanning domination, and no one seemed poised to stop them! No one that is, until they turned their attention to a seemingly back water planet named Arus.

That planet’s innocent image had proved deceptive, the world full of humans willing to fight. They might not have stood a chance against the fledging empire’s military might, but the humans had smarts on their side. Some of the most intelligent and capable men and women of the galaxy, the scientists developing a weapon, one who premiered it’s debut performance when Doom tried to lay waste to the capital kingdom of Arus.

Zarkon and his people had been amused when one lone defender appeared to fight the full force of Doom’s military. They had tens of thousands of ships in orbit around Arus, that number should have been enough to crush any piddling resistance of that world. They had expected ships, and gotten none, just one lone robot that towered taller than any building on Arus or Doom combined.

Immediately Doom’s armadas had set into motion a plan to bring down the robot, intending to disable it within minutes, then resume the attack on Arus’ capital. They had received the shock of their lives when the robot did not so much as falter, the creation commanding the elements, and unleashing devastating attacks. Lightening had crackled down from the sky, zapping the ships and shorting out their electrical wiring. Winds had buffeted the ships from all sides, knocking them off course. Water had doused them, rusting their metal hides and seeping into the computers. Fires had cause ships to explode, and jagged rock had torn open their sides.

All this, and then the robot formed a sword, using that blazing metal to cleave in half whole ships, the robot choreographing a deadly dance that kept it and it’s blade on constant move. The remains of Doom’s armada littered the space around the planet, so many lives killed, ships destroyed in an instant. Those lucky few that had been left to survive, and had quickly retreated to Doom, to tell their King and his council what they had witnessed with their own eyes.

Zarkon’s first reaction to news of this robot was to lust for it, the Drule King wanted such power for his own. He sent more ships, aided by his witches’ magic, all in an attempt to bring down the robot, and drag it back to Doom where his scientists could study it. Time and time again his forces failed, until the council appealed to him to see reason.

“The robot is simply indefeatable.” They cried out to him. “We must forget about it and Arus. We must accept this loss, and move on to richer worlds.”

Zarkon had been reluctant to agree, but in the end had conceded to their wisdom. With reluctance in his heart, he had abandoned the campaign against Arus, turning to it’s neighbors instead. One world fell, and then a second, and just as Doom was poised to take a third planet, Arus interfered. A call for help had been sent to that world, Arus sending ships and above all, that blasted robot of theirs.

It was another brutal massacre, Drules lives wasted in scant minutes. The wrecks of their ships still floated over that planet, they had been less than successful in retrieving the remains. Not with Arus running interference, lending ships to that world and to others nearby. Arus seemed determined to stop Doom from expanding it’s grasp in it’s part of the galaxy, the King mobilizing the planets, gaining ships and soldiers from each world. Even without Voltron, the combined might of those seven planets might have been enough to hold Doom at bay, with the robot they were nearly invincible.

Zarkon was forced to concede defeat to Arus time and time again, the King trying to cut his losses and move on to a different part of the Denubian Galaxy. After all, it was a vast galaxy, wit hundreds of thousands of planets spread through out space. What did it matter if he let Arus and it’s neighbors remain free for just a little while longer?

He soon got the answer to that question, Arus bringing it’s robot and military to clash with Doom on the opposite side of the galaxy. By this time Zarkon had amassed more wealth, his military expanded to offer up a good fight against Arus and it’s robot. Sometimes they managed to even win, procuring a new planet, with it’s riches and ships, and slaves to fly them, and thus the empire expanded even more.

It became a daily clash with Arus, Doom fighting with them for every world they would try to gain. With their expanding military, it wasn’t always a guaranteed win for Arus, even with it’s robot, and Doom sometimes spread it’s army thin, by focusing on several worlds at once. Arus couldn’t be everywhere, couldn’t protect everyone, and thus little by little Doom gained some more ground. But for every planet they won, they seemed to lose two more, Arus tenacious as a dog with a bone. It was beyond ridiculous, this problematic war lasting for over two years now.

Arus’ rebellion against Doom gave the other planets hope, the world’s people thinking they could dare to fight back against the Drule. Sometimes they had their military waiting, and it was doubly hard for Doom to gain a victory when engaged with two forces at once. Their victory was never assured, but neither was Arus’, upon occasion Doom managed to force the Arusian ships into a retreat.

Both sides suffered extensive losses, bitter enemies that would not be content until one side was wiped out of the galaxy completely. So far neither had managed to destroy the other side completely, all of Denubian their battleground.

Zarkon did not know what motivated the Arusian King. He simply snorted at the idea that someone, even a human, could be so kind hearted as to want to help his fellow man out. He didn’t believe in peace, knowing only those lowborn peasants would wish for such an ideal. He’d much quicker believe the Arusian King wanted to gain control of the Denubian Galaxy, and was seeking to do so with the illusion of helping others. Let them join together to defeat the Drule, then find out they had signed their rights away to the Arusians.

If that was the Arusians’ true intent, then it was an admirable scheme. He might even respect the Arusian King for it, admiring his cunning and the way he was able to rally the people of the united worlds together. Might if not for the fact it was seriously interfering with the Empire’s way of doing things! No longer content to guard worlds that Doom had set their sights on, the Arusians were even making plays for already conquered worlds, trying to free those planets from the Empire. So far they had failed, not even one success to their name for it was a lot easier to guard a world than free a planet from tyranny.

Zarkon held in his sighs, tempted to lash out with his arm and topple the tower of paperwork. He did not need to look at those documents to guess what was written there. No doubt it was the latest reports from Budapeg, a world that was rich in minerals and bloated with free humans. Those minerals were worth a small fortune alone, and the humans would have made fine slaves to mine out those assets. Enough money would have been earned from the sale of those minerals to outfit over a dozen armadas, funding for several campaigns to new worlds that had not yet been touched by Doom’s influence.

He was not surprised to know Arus had once again interfered, though he had hoped, foolishly, that for once the robot wouldn’t show up to play savior to Budapeg’s people. He didn’t know what was the Arusians’ game, didn’t understand why they would do this. They never asked for compensation from the people they saved, and Zarkon sneered at the thought of someone doing something out of the goodness of their own heart.

The only thing they were accomplishing, other than keeping his empire from growing in size, was working Zarkon’s last nerve. His irritation left him in a foul mood, rendering the King dangerous to be around. But more than that he schemed, trying to think of a way to be rid of the threat of Arus and it’s robot. If he couldn’t claim the robot for himself, then he’d destroy it. It and the people who had created it.

Such a thought almost made him smile, Zarkon leaning back against the comfortable cushions of his chair. His council members noticed his relax state, frowns appearing on all but one’s face. Looks were exchanged, but no one dared ask the King if he had been paying attention.

“We have to do something about Arus!” repeated the orange scaled woman, face grimacing.

“No, what we need to do is destroy that robot defender of theirs.” Said another woman, hood thrown back to reveal her lovely face. She was colored a dark purple, her features all too human if not for the gold colored eyes, and ears that tapered to a point. “Do away with the robot, and Arus will fall!”

“And do you have a proposal on how we can accomplish such a feat Haggar?” demanded the green scaled man. She grimaced, and even that could not lessen her beauty, Haggar shaking her head no.

“But I’m sure if given enough time, I will stumble upon the answer!”

“We may not have the time to wait!” protested a different man, his red head ridges a stripe down the center of an otherwise bald head, “The more time passes, the more powerful Arus becomes….and Doom weakens for every successful attack that kingdom launches!”

“Then what do you suggest we do?” Zarkon demanded, and every eye turned towards the green scaled council member. It appeared they had been waiting for his question, the Drule exhaling a deep breath before speaking.

“I’ve given the matter some thought.”

“Have you now?” Zarkon demanded with an arch of one thin eyebrow.

“They’ve left us with no other choice…” continued the green scaled councilman. “We have to put aside our differences…”

“And do what?” Zarkon questioned sharply.

“Form an alliance with Arus.”

Zarkon paused, as though giving the idea the thought it deserved. The council members were looking at him hopefully, it was clear they had all discussed this matter privately. It annoyed him to think they would go behind his back like this, even as he laughed at the thought of an alliance with Arus. “Ally ourselves with the Arusians? Are you mad?”

The council man did not deflate, pushing forward determinedly with his idea. “If we can forge an alliance with Arus, there’d be no one left to stop us. No one to get in our way!”

“And just why would Arus agree to this?” demanded Zarkon, and before anyone could answer he was continuing. “They clearly hate us. They interfere with us every step of the way!”

“But why do they do that?” questioned the orange scaled woman. “What motivates them to not only protect their world, but come to the aid of others? What reason could there be if not that they secretly hunger for the chance to rule over this galaxy.”

“They can’t be doing this out of the goodness of their own heart!” added the Drule with the red head ridges. “No one is THAT nice.”

“They clearly must hunger for power…a power they mean to take from Doom! But if we can turn that ambition aside, if we can get them to see the benefits of an alliance….think of how unstoppable Arus and Doom would be together!”

Zarkon frowned, not liking the thought of sharing power with anyone. His council members read the look on his face, they were exchanging looks, the green scaled Drule speaking. “It would put an end to the attacks, the needless fighting. We’d be bale to continue unimpeded with our assault on the worlds that make up the Denubian Galaxy…”

“If we ally with the Arusians, we’d get access to that robot of theirs!” added the man with the red head ridges. He was clearly try to appeal to Zarkon’s desire for the
robot, but the King was not so easily swayed. Not until Haggar rose from her seat, the beauty smiling as she spoke.

“I think this proposal has some merits…”

“Oh you do, do you?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “Mawoga is on the right track, though I believe he needs to change the focus of his plan. We should ally with Arus….lull them into a false comfort.” She grinned, revealing her two pointed fangs, teeth gleaming pearl white. “You see your highness, I propose we merely lie about becoming their friends. We get close to them, we learn their secrets. We discover their weakness and ways to exploit them. And then…” She raised her hand, making a fist as she smiled. “We crush them.” She chuckled them, her amusement apparent in her face. “As our allies they’d be force to reveal the secrets of that robot of theirs….we’d know just how to strike to put an end to it and them!”

“Not a bad idea…” Zarkon mused, gazing thoughtfully at Haggar. “But how will we convince them of our sincerity?”

“We’ll have to make some sacrifice.” Haggar quickly answered. “Send them gifts of gold and slaves….things to sweeten the pot.”

“They should be paying homage to us.” Grumbled the orange scaled woman.

“Now, now Lashina….” chided Haggar. “We have to play the humbled ones if we are going to succeed with our deception.” She smiled at Zarkon, a crafty look in her eyes. “I understand the Arusian rulers have a young daughter. She would be perfect for our purposes.”

“Oh?”

“I think an old fashioned alliance is best.” Continued Haggar. “We’ll propose to unite our two kingdoms through marriage. I believe your son is of a marriageable age is he not?”

“Lotor?” Zarkon frowned then, thinking of his son. The boy had just turned 17, and wasn’t even old enough to have a harem of his own. Not that the prince did not pester his father daily for such a privilege to be granted to him, the boy already lusting after women, leaving the King half frazzled in his attempts to control Lotor’s libido. He had already caught the boy fooling around with some of the servants, the prince beyond stealing just kisses as he made his desires known.

“It won’t be any trouble to command your son to marry the princess.” Haggar added. “And this needn’t be a long term sentence. He can divorce the girl just as soon as Arus has fallen, and she will be good practice for him in preparation for his true wife.”

“At the very least it might calm down some of his urges.” Zarkon mused, thinking once Lotor got laid on a frequent basis he might be able to concentrate on something other than sex. His son was far too consumed with women and the pleasure their flesh could offer him, the boy neglecting his studies and weapon’s training.

“So we are agreed then?” prodded Haggar, looking around the table at each member of the council. They were all nodding, in agreement for once that Arus must be stopped. This farce of a marriage seemed just the ticket to that world’s downfall, Zarkon already sitting back to think on just what sort of tribute he would sent to the Arusian King. It wouldn’t do to send too much wealth, he wasn’t about to bankrupt his own personal fortune in trying to lull the Arusians into a false sense of security. Nor would it do to skimp on the riches, Zarkon trying to settle on the perfect balance to properly dazzle the Arusian and give off the appearance that the Doom Empire had been humbled by their defeats.

He was too busy thinking about the finer details of this scheme for Zarkon to even give one-second of consideration to his son. Neither did the council members, Haggar and the others seeing Lotor as just a tool to be used. No one thought to ask the boy what he would want, and no one gave even an ounce of consideration to how this marriage might affect him.


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