Pride 14

The ruins of the castle of lions was behind him, the building in shambles. A segment of floor had collapsed on the highest level, bringing down with it the eastern tower. The tower to the West still remained standing, though it’s white marble walls were charred, blotchy black stains marking where it had been pummeled with lasers. All the windows had been blown out, the glass shattered and lying on the lawn. No one would be sweeping the glass up, or attempting to repair the castle. It would remain like this, a ruined reminder of Arus’ glory days.

It was only the second day since Arus had fallen, but the paradise it had once been seemed a far distant memory. His men had taken the time to take down the castle’s banners, the royal family crest being replaced with Zarkon’s, the flags changed to that of Doom’s. Lotor had nodded in approval when he saw what they had done. It was just one more step towards demoralizing the population, and he knew it would be a devastating sight not just to the Arusians but to the rest of the galaxy to see Doom’s colors on the castle of lions.

They would see that soon, Lotor watching as Drules ran about the grounds, getting things ready for the upcoming broadcast. Large speakers had been brought in, all to better amplify his voice. Cameras were positioned all over the field, ready to capture the castle and the scene before it from all angles. And a platform had been built, the small stage positioned on the lowered drawbridge.

There was wooden x-shaped crosses on the stage, manacles open as they waited for bodies to be strapped to them. Lotor planned to have the corpses of the fallen Alfor, along with several lesser nobles mounted onto the crosses. Alfor’s would take center point on the stage, his body perfectly preserved by the chemicals they had filled him with. Alfor would be the star of the broadcast, the leader of the Galaxy Alliance dead for all to see.

They hadn’t yet brought out the bodies, but Lotor wasn’t concerned. He was currently going over a checklist, the soldier next to him, rattling off things that needed the prince’s approval. Another soldier approached him, stopping a respectful distance away as he waited for Lotor’s acknowledgment. Lotor waited a moment, before arching an eyebrow at the new soldier.

“Prince Lotor, the captured slaves are ready and waiting to be positioned.”

“Let them keep waiting.” Lotor said, ignoring the pull on the chain he had wrapped around his left hand. “I want the bodies put out on stage before the slaves are brought out. It will be all the more satisfying a reaction to capture on film when they see their rulers already on display.”

“Yes, sire.” The soldier saluted Lotor, then hurried away.

“Now where were we?” Lotor asked, even as the chain was pulled tighter.

“Lights.” Said the soldier. “We’ve run several strings of them over the draw bridge, and have brought in several large spot lights to shine on the stage.”

“Good, good.” Lotor nodded, the chain rattling wildly. “What about the mic checks? I want sound quality to be as good as the visuals.”

“We’ve put an amplified boost to your microphones” answered the Drule. “We’ll be able to hear a pin drop. Your words will not go unheard.”

“They better not.” warned Lotor. “I will not suffer any setbacks to this broadcast.”

“Er yes…” The Drule seemed nervous, and glanced not at Lotor, but at something behind him. The chain rattled even more, but Lotor studiously ignored it. “And we have our techs in place to implement the jamming signals. The broadcast will play out through the Denubian Galaxy, overriding the regular programming of each and every planet.”

“Perfect.” Lotor smiled then. The Drules had perfected the art of cutting into another’s signal, but this would be the first time they sent out a broadcast on a galactic scale. They wanted it to go out live, and Lotor knew his father would be watching from the home world.

“Sire, if everything meets your approval, we can start the broadcasting in the next ten minutes….”

“Yes, do that.” Lotor said. “Have them hurry and mount the bodies. And make sure the remaining members of Arus’ royalty are present. I’m sure it’ll be a suitable horrific sight, to see all those women and children enslaved.”

“Monster!” A voice snapped from behind him, the bowing soldier seeming to twitch in surprise at the insult. Lotor gave him a dismissive wave, and finally responded to the chain by jerking on it. A cry of pain was heard, someone being forced forward by the chain’s pull. He didn’t turn to look at that someone, knowing it was the collared Allura.

“Think of it Allura. The spectacle! It might even make the slaves cry.” Lotor smirked.

“Just what are you planning?!” She demanded when she recovered from the jerk on her leash. That length of chain Lotor held had it’s end fastened to Allura’s collar, the girl effectively leashed to him. He had spent much of the day dragging her along with him, confidant she wouldn’t be able to wander off now. Except for the chain he held, he had proceeded to ignore her, going about his business though he had been sure to conduct it in basic so she could understand just what was about to happen.

“You’re a smart girl, aren’t you Allura?” Lotor asked, making sure to keep her well away from the stage. “Surely you’ve figured it out by now…”

“Yes, but…whose bodies are you planning to display?”

He tsked then, wondering how she could have missed the obvious. “Why Allura, I would think you’d know. Several key members of the ruling class, including your beloved father.”

“Father?! NO!” Allura cried out, her voice so shrill several Drules looked their way. “Hasn’t he suffered enough at your hands?! Let him be at peace in death!”

“I doubt he could find peace after the way he died. And that’s not counting what happened to his planet, his people, and his daughter!” Lotor retorted, and began walking towards the castle drawbridge. Soldiers were on it, some standing on the platform, laboring with the bodies that were being secured to the crosses. Allura stumbled along behind him, her hands gripping the chain as though that could stop it’s pull on her neck.

“Leave my father alone you fiend!” Allura managed to shout at him, and he laughed.

“You’re fortunate my father isn’t here.” Lotor said in a conversational tone. “Now he’s the REAL monster. You don’t even want to imagine the kind of things he would do to defile your dear father’s body.”

“Somehow that doesn’t make me feel better.” He heard her mutter. A pause, and then curiosity got the better of her. “Why would you hold back where he wouldn’t?”

“I’m more of a religious man than my father.” He was serious, even as she snorted. “I’ve got respect for the dead, to a point. Though it won’t stop me from inviting the whole galaxy to view Alfor’s body.” He turned to look at her then, seeing she was red faced with anger. “You see Allura, they need to see for themselves what happens to those who go against the Doom Empire…”

“I think they already know.” Allura pointed out, but Lotor shook his head no.

“No, the price Alfor paid for his defiance must be shown. His manipulations and thievery, his interference, his refusal to ally himself with our Empire…No one can be allowed to get away with so much….It’s not enough to topple his planet, we want his legacy destroyed.”

“The Galaxy Alliance.” She breathed out. “You want to bring it down…” He nodded, but Allura laughed. “You won’t succeed. Even with my father gone, there are others to lead.”

“None with even half the strength of character and determination Alfor possessed. And that’s not taken into account the destruction of Voltron.”

“Voltron….” A shake of her head, Allura letting go of the chain to brush back her bangs. “How did you do it?! How did you succeed in bringing down our defender?!”

“A little luck and a lot of magic.” Was all he would say about that. Truth be known he didn’t know if it was even possible for the spell to be recreated, Lotor remember the price Haggar had paid. Not only Hagger, her coven of witches and warlocks still in comas from the backlash of power they had suffered through. “As smart as every one thought your father to be, he did make at least one stupid mistake.”

“And that is what?” Allura’s voice was frosty in that moment.

“He never tried to replicate Voltron.” Lotor told her. “Or maybe he was just selfish.”

“Selfish?! My father was anything but!” Allura protested, her jaw having dropped open.

“Oh really? Then how else can you explain why he hoarded Voltron’s secrets.” Lotor waved at her with the chain. “We’ve been through your castle’s secrets. There’s been no record of him letting slip even one tiny tidbit of information where Voltron is concerned. If he really wanted the Galaxy Alliance to flourish, why did he make it so dependent on Arus’ defender? If the Alliance had had several Voltrons at their beck and call, I doubt the Doom Empire would still be standing!”

She seemed to have no answer to that, Allura looking away. He drew her attention back to him with his next words. “I’ve deployed salvage crews in search of the pieces of Voltron. Even if its broken to the point it’s unfixable, we may still have a use for it.”

“Use?” Her questioning look didn’t last long, Allura gasping. “You hope to recreate Voltron! Don’t you?!” He did not deny it, smiling happily. “You can’t!”

“Words won’t be enough to stop us.” Lotor said, and turned away from her. They had reached the stage, and already the bodies of Arus’ dead royalty were mounted on the crosses. He heard Allura let out a dismayed cry, and then she was trying to rush past him.

“Father!” She got a few feet forward, and then the chain ran it’s length, abruptly stopping her.

“That’s good Allura.” Lotor said approvingly. “Save that heart felt distress for the broadcast.” He pulled her to him, and glanced around. Someone had thought to start
recording their approach to the stage, Allura’s cries captured for all to see.

“Prince Lotor, we’re ready to begin.” He nodded, and dragged Allura to the back of the stage. Steps were built into the platform, and he climbed those now, pulling Allura along with him. The cameras were being worked, and slaves were being brought out. A large grouping of the slaves his commanding officers had claimed for themselves, along with the surviving members of the royal family.

Lotor saw several blonde women that bore resemblance to Allura, including that cousin of hers, Romelle. She was standing next to a boy who couldn’t be much older than fourteen. His hair was a shocking orange color, all curly like an afro. Romelle had her hands on his shoulders, alternately drawing comfort from the boy, and offering support to him.

He heard Allura whispering names behind him. “Romelle….Bandor….Aunt Orla!” He was not surprised that she began to cry, sniffling and sobbing her relief that some of her family had survived the massacre.

The lights had not yet flooded the stage, Lotor walking to the podium that stood situated just before Alfor’s body. Before the drawbridge, the other group of slaves were standing, frightened and milling uncertainly. When the lights flashed on, a collective gasp rose from the crowd, horror at the heart of it. They saw the bodies, and with it, any hope they had at being saved surely fled them.

Lotor fought not to grin, his hands gripping the sides of the podium as he waited for the cue to begin speaking. A Drule technician counted out the seconds, than gave the signal to begin speaking.

“I give you greetings, both to the home world of the Doom Empire, and to the rest of the Denubian Galaxy.” Flashes of light were going off all around him, Drules photographing the moment for prosperity. “Please, do not attempt to adjust your view screens. We have taken control of the air waves to give you this important message.” He paused a beat, all to draw out the suspense. “Arus, long a thorn in the Empire’s side, heart of the Alliance, and home to it’s leader…” Another pause, the cameras panning back to take in the castle with it’s Doom colors and banners.

“Has at long last fallen!” A cheer erupted from the gathered Drules, and the Arusian slaves began bemoaning their fates.

“Silence!” screamed a guard, cracking a lazon whip over the heads of the nearest slaves. Many were immediately cowed, though a few whimpers were still heard.

“I come to you live, from the ruins of the castle of lions.” Continued Lotor. This broadcast wasn’t just being aired throughout the galaxy, but also at various spots on the planet Arus. The Drules wanted the Arusians to know what had happened to Alfor and the other members of the ruling class. To know there was no help coming for them, no hope left of a resistance.

“You can rest assured that the many villages and cities of Arus lie in a similar state of shambles.” Lotor told them, more cheering from the Drules. “There is no way left for the people of this planet to run to, to hide. We have captured every point of civilization, the people processed and enslaved.” The camera pulled back to show the crowd of slaves, and then zoomed in on the group of former royalty. The women and children were all weeping, clinging to each other.

“But more than that, we have taken your leaders.” Lotor said with supreme satisfaction. “Some will live on as slaves of Doom. But others…” His eyes flashed with dark emotion, the camera zooming in on the bodies on the platform. “Were not so fortunate.”

He let the reality sit in, hysterical sobbing erupting from Allura’s enslaved family. The slaves in front of the draw bridge were no better, hoarse cries of Alfor’s name being heard.

“As you can now see. There is no one left to lead you.” Lotor was confidant then. “And should one of you pests have the balls big enough to step into the role vacated by Alfor, a similar fate will befall you!” A smirk then, Lotor jerking on the chain to cause Allura to come forward and fall on her knees. Her name was whispered through the crowd, her eyes angry and wet with unshed tears.

“Your men slain, you wives and daughters enslaved! It won’t just stop with Arus! This will be repeated again and again, we will allow no one to make a mockery of us! Arus had it’s chance to ally with us, and spit in our face. This planet will pay the price for it’s King’s foolishness!”

Lotor pounded a fist on the podium. “Your King has spoken! The great and glorious Zarkon has decreed that Arus will be no more! It shall be mined of all it’s resources, stripped of all its wealth. And when we have choked out every bit of life from this planet, we will leave it. A timeless memorial to show the folly of going against Doom!”

The Drules were cheering again, giving a rousing round of applause. Some even hoot and hollered, waving their swords in the air. Lotor waited for them to calm, looking dead center in the camera. “Try and prepare all you like. Doom is coming, and Doom will not be stopped.” At those words the broadcast was ended, the camera zooming in one last time on Alfor’s body. They did a close up of his face, expression permanently sad and contorted with pain.

Once the recordings were done with, the commanding officers came to collect their slaves. The Arusians were not yet broken, at least not all of them, several fighting to stay with the others. Including Romelle, clinging to the boy as Lotor’s commanding General tried to pry her away. The boy was crying, looking even younger than fourteen as his face turned red, and tears leaked down his cheeks.

“Sister!” He was screaming, hands curled into fists on her shirt. Lotor idly wondered why she wasn’t in a slave’s outfit, watching as Sabbath and the other commander worked to pull the two apart. “NO! Let me go!”

“Bandor!” Romelle cried out, and then screamed when her brother’s owner cuffed him upside the head. The boy’s grip loosened enough to pry him off the woman, and he was dragged away. Romelle stared after him, and them crumpled, ending up her knees. Sabbath placed his hands on her shoulders, surely to restrain her from charging after her brother.

“How cruel…” Allura was whispering. He turned and saw she had witnessed the scene between sister and brother. She glared when she realized Lotor was looking down at her, Allura rising to her feet. She looked very much like she wanted to slap him, and knowing Allura’s suicidal state of mind, she might very well risk the punishment to do just that. “You’re all monsters!” He jerked on her chain, knocking her off balance to distract her from striking him. “Each and every one of you!”

“This is nothing.” Lotor told her dispassionately. “This is business, this is war.” She looked at him as though uncomprehending, Lotor sighing. “A message had to be sent out. The rest of the galaxy couldn’t go on fighting us.”

“You underestimate the Alliance and the humans. We’ll keep on fighting.” Allura told him. “if anything, this will only make us more determined to be rid of you Drules!”

“It’ll make for interesting times if the galaxy does fight the empire.” Lotor acknowledge, then nodded at the approaching soldier. “What is it?”

“Sire….It’s Commander Cossack….he’s regained consciousness!”

Lotor immediately forgot about his conversation with Allura, gesturing for another solider to approach him. “Here.” He said gruffly, handing Allura’s chain to him. “Take her back to my private cabin.”

“Yes, sire.” He didn’t need to make sure the soldier would behave himself with Allura, Lotor trusting his emblem to keep her safe.
“Let’s go.” He said to the first soldier. The soldier immediately fell into step with Lotor, the prince interrogating him about any and all details of Cossack’s awakening. But the man did not know much, having been dispatched the minute Cossack had opened his eyes. With disgust, Lotor sent the Drule off, and hurried the rest of the way onto the ship that served as the main medical facility for his armada.

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