Rules 10

On Planet Arus, the sun was just rising, it’s rays slow to chase away night’s embrace. Colors swirled and meshed together, making the Arusian skyline tinted with pink and purple edges to the cerulean blue. Though not many were up to enjoy the sight.
Many of the planet’s denizens were snug in their beds, determined to remain there as long as possible before a most unnatural alarm clock sounded. Robeasts roars and missile fire were an all too common a breakfast serenade in Arus’ recent history.

And since the fall of Voltron, attacks had grown in frequency. Doom was determined to press the advantage, and reclaim the planet. With only three lions currently operational, Arus was hard pressed to mount an impressive defense. Aide had to come from the Alliance, and even then, they just barely managed to hold back the forces of Evil.

Ships from Demos were also about. A mixed blessing were they, for though they helped hold back the advance of Doom, they also had their eye on the fertile planet. So Arus was forced to simultaneous defend against two very powerful enemies. Things were looking grim for the forces of Good.

Few were up and about the Castle of Lions this day. Oh there were various servants bustling about the kitchen, for not only did they have to prepare breakfast for those who lived in the castle, but they also had to prepare a large enough meal for the hundreds of refugees currently hiding out in the castle. Of course, there was a few sleepy eyed guards up, watching the monitors for any signs of suspicious activities from either Doom or Demos. But the main players of this tale were asleep. All of them, that is, except for one.

Princess Allura lay in bed, staring at her room’s distressingly pink ceiling. Of course it was pink, nearly everything in the room was that color. From the light switch, to the curtains, various shades of pink pervaded her existence, as per the Proper Princess Rulebook, Dictator Nanny ordered Allura adhere to.
Though the abundance of pink in her life wasn’t what was keeping Allura up. She had more important things to worry about as a ruler of a war torn planet! So then, why were her thoughts focusing on an all together different color…a blue one…the exact shade of a certain admirer…one who was most ardent and tireless in his pursuit of her.

Allura HATED that she spends so much time thinking about the handsome Prince of Doom. Wait…did she just say he was handsome? Scratch that. She certainly didn’t notice things like that about Lotor! Why not? Because he was EVIL and she was GOOD. And never the two shall meet. It was not only stated in the Proper Princess Rulebook as the one rule that should NEVER be broken, but Keith also gave direct quotes from Garrison’s manual, which also had similar views on he subject!

That should end any and all debate. Especially since Lotor was set to marry some other princess. An EVIL one. Why was Corral evil? Because her planet was evil! Evil being defined by the fact that Demos conquered planets, and oppressed GOOD people everywhere, seeking slaves, wealth, and power. Just like Doom did. Which thereby ensured all Demosions must be bad by association. Just like everyone assumed all Drules must be bad, because of crimes the majority of their kin folk committed. There were no gray areas, what so ever, as Keith always said. It was depressing to her, to be surrounded by people who believed that there was good and bad, and no in-between.
But why was she stressing over this. She couldn’t change what was thought around her, so she should just concentrate on something else. Like…like…battle tactics! Flying Blue Lion was one of the few joys she had left, even though people were always trying to take it from her. Especially since battle had been a most unique experience lately. Since Black Lion was currently going through extensive repairs, as was Yellow Lion, it meant the leader of the Voltron team was grounded. There had been a bit of a scuffle over Keith trying to claim Allura’s lion, with Nanny’s adamant support. So far she had managed to hold onto her pilot’s rights. But just barely. It wasn’t paranoia that those two were watching her every move for a blunder that would justify stripping her of her post.

Keith had really become a big pain these last few weeks. Since he couldn’t actively participate in battle, he had to content himself with issuing orders from the ground. He was proving to be more annoying than normal, in that capacity! It was like he thought they were completely stupid, and had to scream every command to them, which sometimes caused them to have minor accidents while up in flight.

And then the actual fighting…it was a whole different playing field to take down Robeasts without Voltron. The lions and ships had been successful…but barely. But even fighting against Doom ships had changed. They were now taking shots at Blue Lion!! They never did that when Lotor was in charge!!

Battling was a whole lot safer when Lotor was around. Not to mention exciting, maybe even, dare she say it, FUN. Lotor certainly made her life more interesting. Traps and proposals from him (Which usually went hand in hand!) certainly broke up the monotony of her daily routine. Flight practice, studies, and dealing with what little paperwork Coran couldn’t handle–BLAH! Arguing with Nanny over her wardrobe, over marriage prospects, and over Blue lion–DOUBLE BLAH!!

To be able to take control of her own life, no longer be treated like a child…that was her ultimate dream. Piloting Blue Lion had enabled her to take on large step in that direction. But it wasn’t enough! At least Lotor didn’t see her as a child. Okay, yes, it’s true…he did have a need to control her, at least when it came to the marriage thing. But it was really no worse than how Coran, Nanny, even the Voltron Force tried to control what she did. She didn’t even get to run her own Kingdom, Coran handled it all. In fact he insisted on her leaving everything up to him! Of course Nanny agreed, saying when she was married she wouldn’t need to know how to run a Kingdom, her husband would do that job! Since her parent’s death, Allura had been forced to become used to dealing with people who gave her no choice in any matter, except to do what they wanted her to do. It was amazing she was able to pilot Blue Lion, and manage to remain single! They were always after her to get married and conceive a heir. They didn’t care who she married, (As long as it wasn’t Lotor!) just so long as she was birthing babies. Why she wouldn’t be surprised if one day she woke up, went downstairs, and discovered they had the whole ceremony planned and waiting for her. Nanny could drag her down the aisle, marry her off to some prince she never met, in her nightgown no less!!

She would laugh at the image, if she wasn’t so worried that ambush might really happen! She was only 16, and yet they acted like she was some spinster princess! Hmph! Why, if not for the scary prospect of going to Doom, and having Zarkon for an inlaw, she’d be tempted to just go along and see what would happened if Lotor finally got his heart’s desire! Maybe she should see what would happen if she proposed to him, and asked him to live with her on Arus…she bet she could give Nanny and Keith a heart attack if she showed up with him on her arm!

“Oh darn it! I’m doing it again!” Allura sat up and groaned. “Thinking about HIM again!” With a sigh, she turned on her side, and gripped a pillow. If she could just fall back asleep, maybe Lotor and these wild thoughts would be purged from her mind. Maybe…if only sleep would come!

—————————————————————————————————————-

Allura stifled a yawn. It was now hours after her disastrous attempt to fall back asleep. Tossing and turning, she had tried everything, from counting to sheep to a warm glass of milk. And now the obvious answer was here, staring her in the face. She should have gotten Keith to sit by her bed, and go over battle plans. That’s the key! Only now that she had the remedy, she couldn’t use it.

Instead she had to feign polite interest, as Keith once again interrupted a somewhat pleasant breakfast, to discuss war. It was all she could do to keep from falling face first in her oatmeal!
“I think today we should strike first!” Lance was saying. “They’ll never expect that!”

“That’s because Voltron is primarily used as a defense mechanism.” Coran buttered his toast. “I cannot condone initiating a fight.”

“We wouldn’t be starting one, we’d be finishing it.” retorted Lance. “They’ve been camped out in our orbit for weeks now, just dying for the chance to move in and make Arus their new home. If we were to…”

“Absolutely not!!” Coran stated in his “End of Discussion” voice.

“But…”

“Lance, I said no.”

“Wait Coran.” Keith interjected. “I think he’s onto something.”

“You do?” asked a surprised Lance.

“He is?” asked an equally surprised Coran.

“I think we should implement Lance’s suggestion.” Keith said. “With some minor adjustments to make it have a better chance for success.”

“Such as?” prodded Pidge.

“I’m thinking of taking two birds out with one stone.” replied Keith. “If each lion, accompanied by garrison ships, were to separate, each group could focus on attacking one side. One group for Doom, while the other for Demos.”

“And the third?” asked Hunk.

“The third team would stay in full view of both ships. Hold their attention while dodging enemy fire. Hopefully both sides would become focused on that team, allowing the others to sneak behind them, and close in.” explained Keith.

“Well…it’s a plan.” Lance sounded extremely doubtful. “Flawed as it is.”

“Are you questioning my tactical abilities?!” demanded Keith sharply.

“I’m not doing that! I’m just worried that we would be spreading ourselves too thin. That’s no simple scouting party they stationed here. Both sides have sent in considerable power. We’ve only lucked out that they’re too busy fighting among themselves to unite against us. Ships from Garrison can only do so much against them, without back up from Voltron.” Lance explained.

“You’re the one who suggested attacking them in the first place!” reminded Keith.

“Yes, but not with our forces spread out all over the place!” protested Lance.

“Lance has made some very good points.” Allura spoke up. “Dividing into groups that are not even half of what we have been NEEDING to keep the situation deadlocked…with teams split into one-thirds…can we possibly even do that much damage to make such a risk worth it?”

“If you’re scared, I can fly Blue Lion in your place.” Keith said nastily, causing Allura’s cheeks to redden in anger.

“Unlike you CAPTAIN, I am not above admitting fear, WHEN I feel it.” Allura said, her voice increasing in volume with each word. “However, in this case, it is not my welfare I am concerned with. I am more worried about the loss of lives we will lose if we rush recklessly into such a plan!!”

“It is no more or no less than the amount we will lose, and have lost, trying to protect Arus!” Keith shouted. “Or do you not care for your people anymore, PRINCESS?!”

Allura shot out of her seat, slamming her fists on the table. “That was a low blow Keith, even for you.” She spoke so quietly, they had to strain to hear her words.

The breakfast table lapsed into silence, as their captain and their princess angrily stared, no, they were glaring into each other’s eyes. You could cut the tension with a knife, and everyone held their breath, waiting anxiously to hear what would be said next.

“Fine Keith.” Allura looked away from him. “We’ll do it your way…THIS TIME.” She took a deep breath. “But next time…if there is even a next time still available to us…it will be a plan of my own devising we implement.” Her long hair swishing behind her, she strode away from the table, pausing only at the doorway long enough to announce that in no uncertain terms, she WOULD be flying Blue Lion in the upcoming battle.

——————————————————————————————————

Ten minutes later, and Allura was already suited up in her pilot’s uniform, anxiously pacing back and forth in the Command Center. She did not have a good feeling about this plan. There was just too many unknown factors to weigh in. Would Demos and Doom take the bait? Why wouldn’t they wonder where the other two lions were? Should they really be counting on both sides to be so stupid? And should she even be flying after not having enough sleep? But she was too angry to back down from the plan. Or to turn over her lion to ANYONE, let alone a certain captain who was growing more pompous day by day.
And exactly where was Lotor during this siege? It wasn’t like him to disappear when victory was at hand. But there had been no communications from him. In fact, Doom was silent, except that one time they ordered an immediate surrender. She wondered if Zarkon had ordered Lotor’s return to Doom. Perhaps afraid his son would somehow bungle up success in an attempt to nab her. Allura could see the wisdom in that choice. Without Lotor, Doom’s forces no longer held back, unleashing full power on everyone, including her! Especially her! Demos also seemed intent on shooting her down. Perhaps they want to be rid of their princess’ competition for Lotor’s heart.
Well if they want her, they’d get her! It was for this reason she’d make the perfect choice to lead them to distraction. They’d fall over each other, in attempts to blow her Lion up. If anything could make them be so careless, it was her as bait. Now to convince Nanny and Coran to let her go into the direct line of fire…

Speaking of them, they had just entered, along with the other members of the Voltron Force. Lance and Pidge had suited up as well. Nanny hovered about as she always did, somehow managing to worm in on planning sessions with the sole intention of objecting to Allura’s presence. In fact, she already had an objection prepared.

“Look at how puffy your eyes are!” The woman exclaimed in her thick accent. “Have you not been getting enough rest?”

“Yes I have, Nanny.” lied Allura. “I have been sleeping just fine.”

“I don’t believe that!” Nanny retorted. “I’ve heard you pacing about in your room at all hours of the night!”

“You’ve been listening outside my door again?!” Allura exclaimed in dismay.

Nanny ignored that, and said, “The stress is getting to be to much for her! Look at her complexion! Coran, she shouldn’t be flying anymore!”

Concerned, Coran glanced at Allura, noting the bags under her eyes, and the extreme paleness of her skin. He had been under a lot of stress as well, so hadn’t been paying enough attention to the princess. He now came to the conclusion that stress was to be held accountable for her earlier outburst at the table as well. “Perhaps you’re right Nanny.”

Stricken, Allura stared at her advisor in horror. “Coran, no!”

He hated seeing that look in her eyes. “Well, maybe you could just sit out this one battle…Have a nice nap…”

“I don’t want a nap!” protested Allura. Thank God Keith was too busy contacting their allies about his plan, to jump in with his two cents! “They need me to fly Blue Lion!”

“Keith can do that.” Nanny decided.

“Not as well as I can!” insisted Allura. She wasn’t just being stubborn, but speaking the truth. Each Lion’s controls were set differently, the start up programs each having key differences, and weapons. The Lions responded best to their normal pilots, as thought they had bonded with them. She had learned that the hard way, when she had tried to fly Black Lion. The controls had locked up, and she had spun out of control, crashing to the ground. “No one knows Blue Lion’s controls as well as I do. Not even Sven.”

“But…!”

“But nothing!” Allura crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m flying Blue Lion, and that’s final!”

“But Allura…” She cut him off before he could continue. “Coran, you are my advisor. Which means I am to listen to your advice on things I am unsure of. To even follow that advice, IF I deem that advice sound.” She took a deep breath, rallying her nerves for what she was about to say. It wasn’t often she got to exert her Power of Rulership, it was pretty much untapped potential she had within her. With the death of her parents her wishes and demands should be indisputable, and yet somehow Nanny and Coran always managed to override her, saying they knew what was best for her. “But most importantly, I did not ASK you for your opinion. Nor do I NEED it when it comes to flying.” Her next words were not a request, but a Royal Order. “And in the future, I would greatly appreciate it if you were to wait for my permission before broaching me with your ideas, or second guessing my decisions! Do I make myself clear?”

Cowed by her words, Coran fell silent, and nodded his head. Meanwhile Lance broke into applause, while Pidge gave her two thumbs up, and Hunk’s fingers formed a V for victory sign. Nanny gave a barely imperceptible nod of her head, pursing her lips together tightly as she stared at Allura in astonishment. She did not like what she had just heard. That girl was getting far too willful! Perhaps she should spank her again, right now, in front of everyone to knock her down a peg or two. But she hesitated…Allura’s friendship had grown with the those three grinning pilots, and this time they might not stand by and just laugh while Nanny humiliated her. Nanny didn’t do this to be cruel, but to keep Allura in line. To groom her into a well mannered, well liked ruler. After all well liked rulers lived longer, than does who spoke up and did what needed to be done to get the job finished…She believed in plenty of doses of tough love to mold Allura into her perfect ideal of a Princess.

As for Allura, she inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like she had brought the pilot discussion to a halt. But she knew this was only temporary. Soon Nanny and Coran would lapse into old habits, and started treating her like she was a toddler, instead of a capable ruler. She just hoped it wasn’t till long after she announced she intended to take center point in today’s fight!


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