“Guys? Are you in place yet?” demanded Allura. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up…They’ve stopped worrying about where the other two lions have gone, and are focusing all their fire power when one goes by the robeast!”
“My crew is in place, we’re just waiting for Lance’s team.” answered Pidge.
“Waiting for me?” scoffed Lance. “I’ve been waiting for YOU slow poke!”
“You guys!” exclaimed Allura in annoyance.
“Just kidding princess.” grinned Lance. “NOW we’re in position.”
“Drop the invisibility cloaks then.” ordered Keith.
“No way!” protested Lance. “They can’t hit what they can’t see!”
“Lance!” Keith sounded shocked. “That’s so sneaky and underhanded!”
“Anything to win!” replied Lance.
“Isn’t this like cheating?” fretted Keith.
“This is war, not a game Keith.” Lance rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Must you ALWAYS be such a goodie-goodie?”
“I am not a goodie-goodie!” protested Keith.
“Continue this fascinating discussion later!” snapped Allura, just barely managing to dodge a photon blast.
‘Right, we’ll engage the enemy now.” Pidge assured her.
Once again, Hagger felt the floor beneath her waver. “Oh…I’m getting airsick again…” She placed a hand over her mouth, hoping her stomach would remember she had had nothing to eat yet, so technically it should have no reason to be making an attempt to empty out it’s contents. “Now what are those damn Demosians up to?!”
“They’ve stopped firing on us and the lions.” announced Biran.
“If not they, then who is blasting us?” she demanded.
“According to our sensors, it’s coming from behind…” A Lieutenant said.
“Quick, show them on the viewscreen!” The ship rocked from an ion blast, and Hagger pitched forward, grabbing onto the railing to keep from falling into the cockpit.
“There is no one behind us!” A viewscreen technician protested. “Well…theoretically…they must be using a cloaking shield to hide from us.”
“So that’s what they were up to!” Hagger shouted.
“Forget about the invisible men!” snapped Hagger.
“Forget about them?” cried one of the ship’s pilots. “Do you know what kind of damage they can do if we leave our flanks unguarded?!”
“Do I have to spell out everything for you!?” snarled Hagger. “Maneuver our other ships to guard our rear. I want OUR attack to focus in on the lion we can SEE.”
“Don’t you mean lions?!”
“Whatever!” She snapped. “Heavy fire, give it all you got! I want that lion blown out of the sky!”
“What the…! Oh! Hey!” Allura frantically began steering Blue Lion away from the blasts.
“Princess! What’s going on?” demanded Keith.
“I don’t know!” Her palms were slick with sweat, as she nearly ran into a missile right before her. “Doom just started hitting me with everything they’ve got. They’re not even focusing on the Alliance ships with me!”
“Shit!” Keith shouted. “Get out of there fast!”
“I don’t know if I can, but I’ll try!” Blue lion took a direct hit, and Allura involuntarily let out a scream. It was like trying to walk through a minefield, every step a potential explosion. Shots were being volleyed at a rapid rate. At her, behind her, above and below, where she was, where she had been, where she was going…
“Allura quick! Head towards the robeast!” In the background of Keith’s transmission, she could hear Nanny’s frantic sobbing, and Coran’s attempts at soothing the woman’s nerves. “It should provide you some cover!”
“If it doesn’t crush me first!” But she steered her lion towards the beast, taking direct hits from Doom’s fleets, rather than fall victim to the monster’s tentacles. She knew if it caught her, it’d be all over. If she didn’t end up in the belly of the beast, it would hold her down, while torpedoes rained down.
“Princess, we’re going to abort the mission, and come to your aide.” announced Pidge, from his spot behind the Demosian fleet.
“No! Stay where you are!” ordered Allura.
“PRINCESS!!” Apparently Nanny was behind the reason Keith’s transmission was suddenly cut off. “Don’t try and be a martyr! Arus NEEDS you!”
“I’m not trying to do that!” protested Allura. “We can’t end the mission just because of a little unforeseen difficulty.”
“You call that a little problem?!” demanded Nanny, wondering if Allura needed her eyesight checked out.
“I…I…” Allura suddenly screamed, and she heard her friends’ gasp in shock.
“They’re trying to blow up their own robeast!” Coran exclaimed. “Just to get at her lion!”
“Allura please! Come back to the castle!” pleaded Nanny, her grip on Coran’s arm cutting off his blood circulation.
“I…” Another near hit made her quick to agree to their pleas. “I will…” Blue lion started to veer to the left, when an Ion blast hit the screeching Robeast. Reeling in pain, it’s tentacles erupted into erratic movement, as it let out it’s death knell. Faster than an eye blink, a tentacle was in front of her, smashing open the outer layer of glass on her lion’s left eye. Allura threw up her hands to protect her face, and suddenly felt her lion moving at a rate of speed, she herself had never before experienced. She cautiously lowered her arms, and tried to figure out what had happened.
“Princess! Are you all right?!” Nanny demanded.
“I think so…” She decided not to worry Nanny by mentioning how close she had come to running out of air. She had previously thought it foolish when Hunk had installed several layers of glass over the eyes, but now she realized what a life saver it had been.
“Allura, hit the breaks! That Robeast flung you out towards space.” advised Keith.
“Okay…” She slowed her lion to a halt. “I’ll get back to the castle as quickly as I can…”
“Ah…better hold off on it…it’s still pretty risky down there…” said Keith.
“Keith, I can help!” insisted Allura.
“Allura, NO!!” ordered Coran, Keith, and Nanny simultaneously.
“But…” She sighed. Her heart was beating too fast for her to continue protesting. “All right…”
“Heh heh heh heh heh!” cackled Hagger. “Only two lions left! And this one won’t be going anywhere for a while!” She gripped her casting staff in her hands. “We’re going to cut off the princess’ retreat to the castle.” She knew it was Allura, not only through her Dark Magic, but the fact that Green Lion and Red Lion had rematerialized into plain sight.
“But Hagger…mistress…we won’t have enough ships to do that until reinforcements arrive from Doom.” protested Biran.
“But the pretty princess won’t know that!” grinned Hagger. “Have one of the Command Carriers break out of formation. It and it’s fighter jets should be all we need…because my magic will make it so!!”
Her orders were relayed, and one Command Carrier slowly began ascending into space. “Allura’s not the only one who can play at illusions!” Smirking, Hagger began twirling her staff, chanting in a language whose civilization had been dead for eons. Only it’s records still existed…zealously preserved by Dark Mages for their potent destructive magics.
Hagger turned in place, and the whirling off the staff came to a complete stop, held up in a vertical position. Fire appeared at one end, and traveled down to the other tip, where it dripped onto the floor. From there it etched it’s self into a pentagram, runes flashing all about…and then it formed into a huge fireball, that lept into Hagger’s left hand. Pulling back, she swung it out at the viewscreen, the ship’s crew frantically ducking out of it’s way.
It phased harmlessly through the screen, and traveled on outside, smashing into the carrier. Runes appeared on the steel, and suddenly where there had been one, there was twenty…and twenty more of each of the fighter jets the ship held, and that the illusions ship’s held. They spread out between the princess and Arus, a daunting barrier. She had no way of telling which was real and which was not…it would be foolhardy to try to zip past one hoping it was illusion covering an opening, for it could just as easily be an all to real ship to crash into…Nor could she afford to not dodge every blast near her, for while some may very well pass harmlessly through her lion…the others could very well end her existence by proving how real they were…
“What do I do now!” cried Allura plaintively.
“You have to leave Arus.” Allura started at the sound of Keith’s voice. She hadn’t realized she had spoken that thought out loud.
“What? Leave Arus? At a time like this?” Alura didn’t voice her fear at the thought of going out into space all alone.
“You can’t keep dodging blasts forever. If they don’t hit you, you’ll run out of fuel eventually…”
“But…Keith…where would I go?” Allura’s stomach was twisted up into knots.
“Go to Planet Pollux.” He advised. “Your cousin Bandor will give you shelter gladly.” She didn’t respond at first. “Allura?”
“All right Keith…I’m going…” She let out a deep sigh of regret.
“Pidge, Lance, and the Alliance will stay out in battle as long as they can, to keep any more ships from going out after you.” Coran told her. “And…good luck Allura.”
“Oh my baby, please be careful!” Nanny sobbed into the intercom.
“I will.” Allura promised. “I guess this is goodbye for now.”
“Good-bye Princess.” Keith said. “And God speed to you.”
Forcing herself to sound steady and sure of her course of action, a confidence she was currently lacking in herself, she bid them good-bye, and took off, leaving her once peaceful planet behind her.