Rules 13

“Allura…”
The princesses eyelids fluttered, but she did not completely stir to consciousness.

“Allura…my daughter…awaken!”

The icy chill of death was upon her, and she suddenly leapt to her feet…or at least…she tried to…Having forgotten in her sudden state of fear that she had been dozing in the cockpit of Blue Lion, she painfully banged her un-helmeted head on the metal ceiling.

With a cry of pain, she slumped back down into the seat, angrily glaring up at the ceiling. “Ow…” She rubbed the aching spot on her head. What had caused her to wake up in that fashion…she hadn’t been having a nightmare…for once she had been blessed with a dreamless sleep. A sleep she felt she had earned after the tough battle she had just barely escaped from with her life.

It certainly hadn’t been Blue Lion’s alarm going, alerting her that an enemy was near, or that she was anywhere close to approaching Planet Pollux. “Can’t I get a good night’s sleep for once?” She grumbled, trying to make herself comfortable in her chair. Suddenly, Allura shivered, the hair on her neck rising, as the temperature dropped drastically.

“Please don’t tell me the thermostat was damaged during the shoot out!” Her teeth were ready to start chattering, as she ran a diagnostics check on Blue Lion. It came up with no plausible reason why the heat should be failing. “This is so not my day!” Allura slumped forward, resting her head on the control panel.

“Allura…” A man’s voice, familiar and kind, with an ethereal edge to it that hinted of something that was not of this world…not anymore at any rate.

“Daddy!” She sounded almost childlike then, relieved to find out it wasn’t a system malfunction after all. And very happy to see her father once more, though it was a flawed happiness. To be able to see him after his death–his murder…she knew for such ghostly visitations to occur had to mean his soul was not yet at rest.

“My daughter…” She could just make him out, floating before her ship. “Arus is in grave danger.”

“I know that daddy.” Allura replied. “Doom was bad enough, but Doom and Demos together…” She shuddered. And it would only grow to be a thousand times worst if those two fiends were to ever join forces.

Her father, King Alfor, seemed to have read her mind, for he began speaking of peace through marriage. Her face fell into a sad frown. “You mean Lotor had agreed to marry Corral then?”

“Not yet…but peace does hinge on A marriage…which two planets enjoy that peace has yet to be determined.”

Allura blushed. “You’re not suggesting I…?”

Instead of answering her, Alfor said, “If the situation is not resolved soon, the three powers will tear Arus apart…blown to bits, and all our hopes down with it…”

“OH NO!!” She exclaimed, horrified at the thought of Arus being destroyed. Until now, she had always thought the worse case scenario her people faced was enslavement–not total annihilation!

“You must go to him, my daughter.”

“To Lotor?” Her confused eyes turned panicky. “On DOOM?! I couldn’t…I can’t…I WON’T go there!”

“Fear not.” Alfor soothed her. “You won’t have to. He is no longer on Doom.”

“Then Demos?” She frowned again, not liking this choice any better. “If he’s there, then he has obviously already decided on throwing in his lot with that Princess…Corral!”
“He is there, but not by choice.” Her father informed her. “They seek to force him into a situation similar to one he had in mind for you.”

Allura looked blank for a moment. “A similar situation…you mean…” Her eyes widened. “They’re trying to force him into a slave girl’s outfit?!” She had to bite her lip to keep from giggling over the mental image of Lotor in such a skimpy costume.

“They’re trying to force him into marriage!” Alfor said, almost impatiently, giving her a reproving look that hinted that she shouldn’t be jesting at a time like this. Why if she wasn’t so sure ghosts couldn’t feel annoyance, she’d think her father was experiencing just that with her!

“Wait…force…” The humor died from her eyes. “Impossible!” scoffed Allura. “No one can force Lotor to do anything against his will!” How well she knew that from first hand experience!

“Almost nothing is impossible my daughter.” Alfor’s smile seemed sad.

“And I really must go to Demos…and…stop him?” Great! She thought. Now he’ll really think she loved him if she went and crashed his wedding. Allura, get ready for a whole new level for Lotor’s obsession with you to transcend to. “I must radio Arus first, and tell them where I’m going…”

“You must not.”

“Why not?” Allura’s unshakable faith in her father never let her even consider this was not really King Alfor. Her belief in him was absolutely right, however other members of the Voltron Force would be disappointed to know that after all that had happened, she still had not learned to be suspicious of wraiths appearing in her parents images, advising her to walk into enemy territory unescorted. She had been wrong in similar situations, and it had almost cost Arus dearly.

“They will only try to talk you out of it.” explained Alfor. “They will stop you anyway they can. Send for ships to drag you to safety, and at Arus’ ultimate cost.” How right he was on that point! Keith would never approve of her going anyway near Lotor. “You must not fail in reaching the prince.”

“I won’t father.” Allura’s eyes shined with the determination he had instilled in her. “I will find a way to reach him…to rescue him from Corral.” And that would be that, she thought. Grateful to escape marriage, he would help her fight back Demos. She wasn’t naive enough to think he would give up trying to conquer Arus! No, this would be a one time thing, where they joined forces to beat back a common enemy.

“Fare thee well, my daughter.” Alfor’s voice had grown so faint, it was no louder than a whisper.

“Good-bye daddy.” Her eyes teared up.

“Seek out Lotor…” Alfor reminded her. “And tell him…how you really FEEL…”

“I will daddy, I will…HEY!! What do you mean how I really feel?!” She demanded. But King Alfor was already gone…

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

Lotor was in Hell. Granted it was a lot less harsher version of the Hell most religions toted, but he was still miserable. What use was the finest clothing, the richest food, the best brands of liquor, if he was forced to share it with the one he did not love?
It was doubly frustrating to have to sit here with his future bride and father-in-law, while they met with the wedding planners. He’d almost prefer being locked in his room! Which, he glumly realized, would happen after this torture session was over. He’d be stuck in there until dinner time, then let out to eat with his new family.

Of course he recognized the tactics. He’d employed them himself several times with Allura! He never realized how well they worked until now…this, keeping your captive isolated from all others, with no holos to watch, no books to read, no sort of entertainment…nothing! Nothing but endlessly pacing the floor (He was convinced he was wearing a tread into the carpeting…), or sleeping the time away. The boredom got to you real fast…and soon you were actually looking forward to your captor’s visit…if only to have another humanoid to talk to! Even Basic lessons could be made exciting after having to endure a week and a half of a whole lot of down time.

Corral had made some progress in their language lessons. Not enough to be fluent yet, but her future prospects in that area were promising. Thankfully he did not have to rely on their limited knowledge of each other’s language in order to communicate. Anador had bought several of those translation chips, U. N. I. T. Y. Lotor was surprised to see they still made those devices. They had become almost obsolete with the establishment of Basic.
He was glad to see they were the newest models. (New being the last version to be released before they stopped mass producing the items.) The original U. N. I. T. Y. units were metal balls about the size of a fist, that whirled about you head translating everything into the language of your choice. Not only were they unwieldy, but they tended to translate any and everyone they heard speak. Many a intergalactic dispute was caused when a whispered comment was made public by the balls.

No, the models Lotor and Corral wore, had much tweaking done to them. They now gently whispered so that only the person wearing it could hear the translation. It’s range was limited as well. A person had to be pretty close for the chip to start working. (Unlike with the older model that could pick up words from across a ball room that was bigger than a football stadium…then shout your business for all to hear…) Corral’s chip was hidden as a gem on her choker, while Lotor usually wore his pinned to his shirt’s lapel. The chips also came in handy for Lotor to understand the various guards and servants here that could only speak Demos’ language. Not that he had much contact with anyone other than Corral and her father…

Naturally, he tried several escape attempts already. Picking locks, skulking through shadows, setting fires in his room as diversions…even the ole shimmy out the window on tied together bed sheets.

He was always caught. His punishments weren’t severe…just more time outs in his room. Anador thought it was healthy for Lotor to be working out his aggressions in his manner, claiming he’d be worried about Lotor’s health and state of mind if he hadn’t made an attempt! He just wasn’t taking Lotor seriously–after all, where could he go if he managed to escape the castle grounds? Anador was making a dangerous move, one many before had done…underestimating the young prince–Lotor had many skills, hot-wiring a ship would be child’s play to him!

Actually…getting out of his room unnoticed shouldn’t be proving to be this hard…what was he doing wrong? How were they getting tipped off to him? Was he under a spell? He didn’t think he was under twenty-four hour surveillance…he had gone over every inch of his room several times. No bugs or hidden cameras had turned up in his investigation.

“Lotor, honey, which one is your pick?”

He blinked. Corral was holding swatches of color before his face. “Um…That one?” He pointed at the stripped pink pattern, which coincidentally was the shade of pink Allura’s pilot uniform was spotted with.

Corral looked at it with a critical eye. “You’re absolutely right, dearest. It IS a garish color.” She tossed that sample into the waste receptacle. “Whatever was I thinking, picking it in the first place?”

“I know who was on my mind…” Lotor murmured softly. He glanced over at Anador, and had to stifle a smile. The old King looked as bored as Lotor felt!

——————————————————————————————————-

Somewhere, deep in the back of Allura’s subconscious was a voice that kept going, “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this!” But it was beat back into silence by the voice that insisted, “Father knows best.” There was also a loud, insistent voice saying she was doing this for her own personal gain. To have HER Lotor back where he belong–hopelessly chasing after her!
Princess Allura told them ALL to shut up, and remind her to make an appointment with the castle psychiatrist when she got back. Clearly recent stress was giving the young ruler a lot of issues to work out.

But right now, it was time to get a move on to Planet Demos. It was bound to be a long trip, not that Blue Lion couldn’t easily handle the distance. Zipping from Galaxy to Galaxy should be a simple enough task. Dodging those intent on capturing her–or worse…that would take some careful management. Both friends and foes would be out looking. Hopefully Arus hadn’t sent up a red alert yet, over her failure to arrive on Planet Pollux. Or her refusal to answer their hailings. But she knew her time limit was rapidly diminishing…she needed to get out of sight A.S.A.P.

Which was why she was parked on this barren asteroid. On her stopover at a neutral rest area, she had made inquiries about the freighters coming in and out of port. She was delighted to learn of several prospects fitting her criteria were currently docked at the gas station–Ships heading to Demos in the hopes of a favorable trade of goods. By some incredible chance of Fate, one such ship of the right size and speed she was searching for, had just arrived at the port!

She then decided to risk the chase of recognition, and chat up one of the crewmen. It was accomplished easily enough…lowering her hood, and batting her baby blues had fantastic results. And a little verbal flirtation and a light caress or two had garnered Allura the ship’s flight plans. A chaste kiss on the cheek was required to seal the deal, as was a promise to meet the fellow at the next rest stop over, to get the man’s guarantee that he would do his best to keep the ship’s course from making any sudden changes.

Allura regretted having to deceive the man, but she was not about to meet anyone at a hotel to guarantee the success of a rescue mission. Besides, she just needed to be sure the freight ship did not stray from it’s path, long enough to lie in ambush for it. She had sought out the perfect spot, this asteroid, and was now waiting for her prey.

“And there it is now…” Allura said, and rechecked the lion’s cloaking abilities. It wouldn’t do to go out and be visible! “Okay…” Blue Lion silently lifted off. “So far so good…slow and steady…” But not too slow, or the Freighter would leave her behind!

Allura maneuvered her lion over the ship, searching out the perfect landing spot. “Let’s…try here…” She let out a relieved sight, when no sensors were set off by her lion’s weight. She was also excited over the thought that this stage of her journey was almost complete…and yet…daunted by how much more she had to do, before she even came close to saving her planet…saving Lotor.

“All right then…almost home free…” Blue Lion’s monitor became a blur of rapidly moving numbers and letters as it processed date from the ship. “92 percentile compatibility rate.” It announced.

“Okay, that’s good.” She hoped! “Activating Atomizer now.” The computer hummed as it initiated her request. Blue Lion’s paws heated up, the ship’s metal melting beneath them. “Transducers converting Lion structure to DNA.” Her lion began sinking INTO the metal, to hide inside of it–not the ship itself. Now this truly was nerve shattering business! Allura had seen Red Lion do this to a gold statue of Lotor, and Lance had emerged without a scratch on him. Of course his stay as PART of the statue hadn’t lasted for as long the one she had planned. She just hoped she wouldn’t become permanently trapped!

Keith had once tried to explain the Atomizer process to them. “Lance’s transducers will penetrate the molecules of the statue, so he can become part of it.” Clearly another case of Keith only pretending to understand how her father’s lions work! Her father…He may have made these wonderful creatures, but there was still so much he had not understood about them…how could anyone else ever hope to fathom all the secrets of the Voltron mecha.

“Atomizer process completed.” Allura frowned. She was now completely cut off from the universe–from existence. No sights to see, only endless gray…the only sound she heard, was of the ship creaking in protest against it’s gravity defying trip. There wasn’t anything to taste or smell outside of the food she brought, and if not for the Lion’s air system recycling her oxygen, she would soon suffocate. She couldn’t even get outside her lion, for she would be crushed…or perhaps torn apart…turned into molecules of the steel…as would Blue Lion, if the atomizer suddenly had a power short…it was to be a dangerous journey, long and boring as well. Allura was only grateful she wasn’t a claustrophobic. “At least…I wasn’t before I began this trip…” And took complete leave of her senses!


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