She kept waiting to wake up, wishing fervently that what was happening to her and the planet would prove to be nothing more than a dream. Some horrible nightmare that might leave her disturbed for a few days, but soon be forgotten. But no matter how hard Romelle tried to wake, things kept happening, many of them unpleasant. Things she thought her mind would be incapable of imagining on it’s own, Romelle knowing she would never have thought of the things the Drule Prince had said and done just a short half an hour ago.
She shivered, but it was not a coldness of the body that made her react so. Her very soul was freezing, Romelle remembering the sights of the Drule’s victory broadcast. Of seeing her uncle’s lifeless body mounted on a cross, his face frozen in grief, stricken with the pain he had been feeling the moment he had died. They had done something to the body, she had been close enough to smell the overwhelming stench of chemicals rising from his flesh.
As horrific as it had been to see Uncle Alfor’s body, there had been another that had nearly brought her to her knees in grief and denial. Her beloved father, a once strong King in his own right, now nothing more than a degraded corpse hanging listlessly for the Drules’ amusement. Somehow she had managed not to scream at the sight, her voice refusing to work properly. Others in her group had not been so composed, voices screaming out as they recognize king and family members.
Romelle had still been staring at the stage, when someone flung themselves against her. She had barely reacted, not even when a familiar voice had called out her name. Little Bandor, her brother, had needed her comfort, but she had been unable to give it to him. Too lost in her own grief and horror, and fighting back her tears. Numb, she had still embraced him, hugging him for what might be the last time.
It was like that, that they had watched the cruel prince of the sadistic Drules make his grand speech. It had been a dramatic one, with all the right pauses to let the horror of their new reality sink in. The planet was conquered, the people enslaved, the royal houses in shambles. The prince had stolen all hope from the people, letting them know their degradation had only just begun.
With the castle of lions in shambles, it wasn’t hard to believe the rest of the planet didn’t fare similar. What chance did the cities have when even the castle, the ruling center point of their civilization had fallen? And what hope did the rest of the Galaxy have without Arus around to run interference with Doom? Would the Galaxy Alliance even concern themselves with trying to liberate Arus, or would they be too busy trying to save their own hides?
It depressed her to think like this, but then the whole situation was without much cheer. Her one silver lining, slim though it was, was that Bandor was still alive. And even that joy was marred by the knowledge that he was as much slave as she. And she had born personal witness to the cruelty of her brother’s master, Romelle watching in dismayed horror as the Drule had viciously punched Bandor upside the head when the boy had refused to be parted from his sister. Such a cruel and senseless act had torn a scream from Romelle, but she had retained enough sense to let go of her brother. All to avoid the boy getting punched again.
Her last sight of Bandor had been of him in the Drule’s grip, the boy looking over his shoulder, crying for her. Romelle had gone limp then, falling to her knees. She hadn’t even flinched when hands touched her shoulders, Romelle prepared for the worse. She didn’t get it though, that strange Drule of hers, Sabbath, oddly offering comfort to her through his touch. She didn’t want his kindness though, didn’t think it right when her family members were clearly suffering.
Aunt Orla had been present, the still proud woman covered in noticeable bruises. Dark circles had been under her eyes, hinting at the sleep she had forgone. Allura was also near, Romelle horrified to see her collared and leash, the prince dragging her about like an animal. Allura fought him every step of the way, glaring with a defiance that had gotten other slaves beat.
These all too brief glimpses into the lives of her family didn’t reassure her. If anything they made Romelle feel worse to have the better situation. It left her subdued, Romelle lapsing into silence after all she had born witness to. Romelle knew she was worrying Sabbath with her maintained quiet, but she couldn’t bring herself to speak to him. Not even to ask where they were going.
He had a firm grip on her hand, leading her through the ship’s corridors. Romelle trailed behind him as far as she could, expression tortured. For a time she kept her gaze up right, and it was then that she noticed the looks some of the Drules sent her way. They could be best described as lustful, covetous and envious, and even a few women had openly desired her.
It raised the hair on her arms, Romelle wanting to scream in hysterics. Instead she cast her gaze downwards, concentrating on her bare feet to avoid seeing any more of those stares. It didn’t stop her from feeling though, Romelle continuing to relive the past hour in her mind. She had all kinds of worries and fears, and there was one person she had not seen amidst the captured slaves. Nor had he been among the dead bodies, her elder brother Avok missing, his fate unknown. But hope didn’t bloom in her heart, the Drules had been quick to squelch such a feeling. And so Romelle despaired, assuming Avok was as dead as their uncle and father was.
She truly must be in shock, the tears would not come, Romelle numb even as the pain magnified ten fold with her thoughts. Not even the thought that the broadcast was probably the last time, the only time she would see most of her family could move her to cry. There was only one other time she had felt like this, so dead to her emotions. And that had been when her mother had died, nearly ten years passing since sickness had felled her.
Now she was glad her mother was dead, for it meant the woman was free of the horrors the rest of Arus was suffering through. Her mother, always a frail woman, would have perished from the first rough blow of a cruel Drule master. And if she didn’t expire from the beatings, something would have died in her to see her children dead or enslaved.
As it stood now, Romelle couldn’t help but think the truly lucky ones on Arus, were those who had died during the invasion. For they were free, their souls ascending to the heavens, never to know the cruelty of the Drules firsthand. And though Sabbath had yet to do anything outwardly cruel to Romelle, she felt the misery of the situation. Guilt harboring within her at having a master that might not beat or rape her. A master who had been kind, feeding her, clothing her, even comforting her when she had suffered terrible nightmares.
She lifted her gaze, to study the back of Sabbath, noting the many thin braids he wore his shoulder length hair in. His hair was raven colored, as black as a crow’s feathers. The ends were tied off with color beads, bright magenta and jade stones. His skin was a powder blue shade, the black of his form fitting leather complementing it nicely. His arms were muscled, and she knew under his vest he had washboard abs, all because of his penchant for going around her in nothing but a towel.
She couldn’t remember ever seeing him smile, at best he had managed a worried frown. His eyes, golden in color, were always serious, especially when they were intent on her. As far as monsters went, he was handsome, almost to the point of being pretty. He looked nothing like the Drules that had tried to rape her, those men having held a more reptilian appearance.
She shivered and tried to stop from remembering about her near gang rape, reminding herself that she had been saved. By Sabbath no less, the man protecting her not once, but twice. Three times if she counted his attempts at soothing her nightmares by holding her all night long. She had mixed feelings about being embraced by him, Romelle leery of any chance for an encounter to turn lewd. But she had needed comfort at that moment, and he had been willing and capable enough to give it to her.
~Traitor!!~ hissed a voice in her head, Romelle flinching as though slapped. She knew that was what she was, for taking his offered comfort. She should be slapping and fighting him, biting and hissing, trying to gouge out his eyes. Anything but walking docilely behind him, like a half tamed feral. And yet she was also a coward, for fear kept her from acting out, especially without suitable provocation. Romelle was frightened that if she gave Sabbath too hard a time, he would give up on her, hand her over to some other Drule. And then where would she be but suffering at the hands of someone who was not so nice, not so kind.
That made her tremble, Sabbath turning to glance her way. He had felt the shudder that went through her, her hand shaking in his. Romelle averted her eyes, not wanting to explain, even if her silence was frustrating to him.
Eventually they arrived at the destination Sabbath had intended for them, the Drule ushering her into a room. She didn’t look up right away, hearing a woman’s voice call out a greeting to Sabbath in Drule. Sabbath surely returned the greeting, tugging on Romelle’s hand to present her before the woman. Painted claws reached for her chin, fingers gripping her firmly as her face was lifted up.
“Oh very nice.” Praised the woman, Romelle blinking in surprise at her. The woman was a lavender colored Drule, with more rings piercing her flesh than she had hair! It went beyond the typical human ear piercing, her nose, lips, even her eyebrows pierced. What hair she had was pulled back in a short ponytail in the center of her near bald head. She was dressed in silver, which matched her piercings, and a million bracelets jangled on her wrists.
The Drule female was appraising, using her grip on Romelle’s chin to force her to turn her face to the side. “I have a lovely blue that would suit her just fine. Really make those eyes of her sparkle.”
Sabbath didn’t say anything, having wandered over to the walls, looking at something. It was when the clawed grip released Romelle’s chin, that she turned to look his way. There was swatches of fabric on the wall, different colors, some bold, some subdued. Her brow furrowed, not realizing what this room was for, or who this woman was until a measuring tape was brought forth.
Romelle blinked in surprise, the woman was winding the tape tight across her breast in order to measure her bust. Similar was done to her waist and hips, the woman muttering numbers to herself. Sabbath appeared not to be paying attention, more focused on the fabrics, than what was going on with Romelle. And then even the woman lost interest in her, stepping away to go rummaging through chests, and a large walk in closet.
Romelle’s gaze followed the woman briefly, and then she was resuming her study of the room. Rolls of fabric were present, almost as tall as Romelle! They lay on their sides, or were propped up like small columns, and some were unraveled partly. Scissors, needles, even a sewing machine were on one table, some bit of fabric laid out and waiting to be mended.
And in one corner a floor length mirror that was angled to give a person three distinct reflections. Romelle was close enough to the mirror to catch herself in one of it’s sides, and started in shock at how pale she looked. It was as if her ordeal had leeched out all the color in her skin, leaving her pale and listless. Her eyes which normally sparkled with happiness were sad, the palest of shadows beneath them. But the thing that upset her most of all was the collar around her neck, the mirror offering Romelle her first sight off that offending collar.
Her hands immediately flew up to touch it, fingers scrabbling frantically at the slippery pearl surface. She was desperate to get it off, pulling at it, trying to get enough space to get her fingers between the collar and her throat. Romelle didn’t even realize she was making noise, the girl having a panic attack as her eyes grew wet, and her breathing became erratic.
And then Sabbath was before her, grabbing her wrists, forcing her hands away from the hated collar. “No!” Romelle cried out, her tears falling.
“You’ll hurt yourself.” Sabbath told her, and she all but snarled at him.
“Leave me be!” But he wouldn’t oblige her, Sabbath transferring his grip so both wrists were held by his much larger hand. The other touched her hair, petting her in an attempt to calm her. He continued to talk to her, tone soothing. It reminded her of when she had been on the table, the collar maker welded the collar shut around her neck. Back then Sabbath had talked to her through out the entire process, though she wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone what he said. She had been too upset, too far gone to make sense of his words.
But his tone had reassured her, enough that she had stopped screaming. And it continued to reassure her now, Romelle calming, sagging into him. He didn’t step away, continuing to pet her hair and talk in that low, soothing cadence.
“It’s almost over Romelle.” Sabbath was saying. “We’ll just get you some clothes, and then we’ll return to the cabin.” She couldn’t help but sniffle, knowing his words were not correct. It would NEVER be over, not so long as she wore the collar that marked her as a slave.
“Yes. You’d like that wouldn’t you?” Sabbath asked, and she nodded. Romelle knew she couldn’t walk around indefinitely in just his shirt, comfortable though the silk was. “We’ll get you dressed, fed, and then you can rest.”
She was letting him lull her with those words, Romelle nodding again. The female Drule emerged from the closet, several things draped over her arms, all blue. She looked quizzically at Sabbath and Romelle, noting their nearness. “Problem?” She asked, and Sabbath immediately stiffened.
“None.” He said, letting go of Romelle, and retreating to the nearest wall.
“Right.” She sounded doubtful, but left it at that. “Well, let’s get you changed.” The Drule said, reaching for the buttons on Romelle’s shirt. She immediately shied away from the claws, casting a paranoid look in Sabbath’s direction.
“Oh, it’s nothing your master hasn’t seen before, I’m sure.” tsked the lavender colored female, an annoyed expression on her face. Romelle immediately blushed as the shirt was opened, revealing her naked body. Sabbath had seen her, but this was different, no torn dress offering a flimsy excuse at modesty.
The shirt was tossed to the floor, the seamstress all brusk and business like. “Now…will you be wanting undergarments with this?” A smirk then, the woman shaking out some sort of blue scarf. “Or do you prefer easy access?” Romelle’s mouth dropped open at that, she started to sputter indignantly.
“Undergarments please.” Sabbath said, his voice sounding strained. She refused to look his way so long as she was naked, Romelle sure her blush was coloring her from head to toe.
The woman clucked her tongue. “If you say so….” She began winding what Romelle had thought was scarfs around her breasts, the fabric feeling like the softest of silks. It fit snug across her breasts, and left her midriff bare. Another, wider bit of fabric was wound around her lower half, forming a wrap around skirt. The woman stepped back critically, looking her over.
“Well, Sabbath….what do you think?”
Romelle did a shy glance his way, and immediately regretted it. He was looking at her, and his eyes seemed riveted on her. His nostrils had flared, the gold of his eyes darkening with a look she had become aquatinted with in other Drules.
“Th…this is a mistake.” She managed to say softly, the woman giving her a sharp look.
“What did you say?!”
“She’s right.” Sabbath said. “Find something else.”
“Something else?” The Drule female frowned. “What’s wrong with this outfit?”
“It’s too revealing for one thing!” exclaimed Romelle, and the Drule hissed at her.
“It could be a lot worse for a pleasure slave.” A smirk then. “Some masters insist on their slaves going around nude save for a few strategically placed jewels. Here and here.” The woman gestured to her breasts and her groin, seeming to take pleasure in the way Romelle paled further.
“She’s not a pleasure slave.” Sabbath said after a long pause. Romelle was as relieved to hear that as the woman was shocked, the Drule female turning her attention away from Romelle.
“Not a pleasure slave?! Then what is she?!” She demanded after Sabbath nodded. He hesitated, seeming not to know the answer either. “You can’t be meaning to make a regular slave out of her! It would be a waste with her looks!”
“What I do with my slave is no one’s business but my own!” Sabbath grumbled harshly.
The Drule frowned, then shrugged, moving away from Romelle. She’d return a scant five minutes later with a simple brown tunic, matching slippers, and a pair of cotton panties. Romelle quickly put the items on, noting that even the tunic was indecently short, riding high on her thighs. But it was better than nothing, even if it wasn’t as soft on the skin as the blue scarves had been.
Sabbath nodded his approval, and money was exchanged. But the lavender skinned Drule hesitated, a considering eye cast her Romelle’s way. “If you’re not going to make proper use of her, you should sell her.” She seemed to ignore the anger that flashed in Sabbath’s eyes, her voice solicitous. “I could recommend several potential buyers to you.”
“Not interested.” Sabbath growled, shoving the credits into her open hands. He then walked over to Romelle, grabbing her arm without the usual care he showed to her. Romelle stumbled after him, casting a look at the frowning female who was busy counting out her money.
“Come again if you need anything.” She called out absentmindedly, then met Romelle’s curious gaze. “Of if you change your mind about her.” Romelle shivered, fervently hoping Sabbath would not find cause to return to this woman’s store.
Sabbath did not slow down his fast walk once they were back in the ship’s corridor, Romelle having to jog to keep up with him. He seemed to be growling under his breath, the experience inside the shop fouling his mood considerably. Romelle didn’t know how to calm him, or if she should even make an attempt, and she feared what would happen once they were back inside his cabin. For she hadn’t forgotten how he had looked at her when she was clad in the blue silk, her stomach doing nervous flips inside her.
“….Sabbath…?” She finally called out his name, and he jerked to a stop abruptly. She crashed into his back, noting how stiff with tension he seemed to be.
“What is it Romelle?” He asked, not looking her way. She paused, grasping for a conversation topic, something that would be harmless, and hold the potential to keep his thoughts from turning amorous.
“I noticed the prince…..during the broadcast, he made no mention of Voltron.” She said at last. “Why is that?”
“It was done on purpose.” Came Sabbath’s answer, and he began moving once more. But at a slower pace, Romelle no longer having to run to keep up with him.
“On purpose?” She echoed, confused. “What purpose would it serve to hide what has happened to the robot?”
“Oh many.” Sabbath replied. “Predominately, the Empire would like the Alliance to believe Voltron is still in one piece. That it is still useable, and in the possession of the Doom Empire.”
Romelle gasped then, immediately understanding the implications of such a thing. If the Alliance thought Doom had the added advantage of Voltron, they would surely lose hope and the will to fight. They might even surrender, knowing they stood no chance at the combined might of Volton and the Doom Empire. It mattered not that Voltron was destroyed, all they needed for now at least, was the lie of it.
“Prince Lotor has dispatched salvage crews.” Sabbath was saying. “Even now they search the entirety of Arus.”
“Salvage crews? They want to retrieve the remains of Voltron?” Romelle asked. “Why?”
“Even if Voltron cannot be repaired, much could be learned from it’s remains.”
“Such as how to recreate the robot….” realized Romelle, horrified anew. Sabbath merely nodded, Romelle fighting not to tear up. “When will it end?” She asked, voice cracking on an unvoiced sob. “When will the Doom Empire be satisfied with what it has?!”
“Most likely when all of Denubian has fallen.” Came Sabbath’s answer, the Drule sounding weary. Her mind reeled, Romelle unable to stand the thought of the entire galaxy subjected to the Drules. This time when she stumbled forward, it had nothing to do with walking too fast. She had simply slipped in her upset, thinking she might be violently ill from her thoughts.
“Easy there.” Advised Sabbath, having steadied her with his hands. She was in conflict, Romelle both wanting to hit him and to lean into him for support, for comfort. But the comfort he offered would be false, he was part of the problem, part of the race who intended to beat the Denubian galaxy into submission. Romelle stared up into his eyes, her mind whispering that no matter what happened, no matter how nice Sabbath was to her, she had to never forget he was her enemy.