Princess Corral stared into the exotic cat eyes of her future husband, fighting back a blush of pleasure. “Get…get to know me?”
“Of course.” Smiling Lotor raised her hands to his lips. “We are to be wed…shouldn’t we start spending time together…” He lightly kissed her flesh. “Alone.”
“Alone.” She repeated with a shiver.
“Of course if you’re not interested…” He let go of her hands, and started to turn away from her.
“No wait!” She caught at his arm, missing the pleased smirk that crossed his face. “I…I’d like that very much.”
“Well then…” He offered his elbow to her. “Shall we?”
“What do you propose?” Corral asked, placing her arm in his.
“How about you give me a tour of the castle?” suggested Lotor. “I’ve spent so much of my stay here locked up in my room…I’d like to see the sights of your home–OUR home.”
“All right then…” agreed a smiling Corral. “That I can manage.”
The freighter Blue Lion had merged with had finally reached Planet Demos. It almost hadn’t, Blue Lion’s added weight setting off alarms at the Border Monitor’s zoning output. Security was extra tight due to the upcoming wedding, and security was worried about assassination attempts. A lot of people did not want this marriage to take place, fearing what such an alliance would mean to all the free worlds out in the surrounding galaxies. So when a ship requisitioned to carry in wedding supplies appeared to be carrying more weight than they could explain, a full 9.7 extra metric tons, a trigger happy space control techie had almost vaporized the ship. Luckily his superior officer, knowing it was his ass on the line, if they trashed the ship that not only carried decorations, slaves, rare foods, but also the princess’ wedding dress was destroyed, had keyed in the command to stop the annihilation just in time.
Instead, they had taken the freighter into custody, going over it with a fine tooth comb. They interviewed the people aboard it, searched room to room, checked and rechecked inventory lists three times, and yet nothing seemed to be responsible for the added weight. They had not taken on any more people, or items once they had left the Denubian Galaxy. Everything should be the same…no way all the people on board could have eaten enough to explain such a vast difference in weight. And although they busted several crew members on possession of narcotics, and unregistered weapons, there was nothing else amiss.
Shaking their heads over this, the Border Patrol was forced to let them disembark, and after a similar search was performed in the castle’s hanger bay, the crew and it’s goods were now clear to go. And so was Princess Allura. She reversed the Atomizer process, her lion passing through the hull of the ship as though it was a ghost. Out in open air, it quickly solidified, and she guided it over to where the Royal ships were parked. Her lion was small enough to fit between the wall and the royal space barge, and she turned on it’s cloaking shield. It didn’t use as much energy as the Atomizer had, and she prayed that Blue Lion’s power would not fail on her before she did what she had to do. It had been going almost non stop for a week now. How much more stress could it take? She supposed she was about to find out!
Climbing over her seat, she went into the back of her lion, stepping over discarded wrappers and canned goods. It was time to get into her disguise…a cloak over her uniform would not cut it this time.
“And here is where the reception will be.” Corral said, gently tugging Lotor into the ballroom.
“It’s…It’s huge!” exclaimed Lotor, wide eyed. “You could fit a thousand people in here, and still have room left over!”
Corral smiled at his amazement. “Yes…we’re always having many parties here…It’s fun…although tiring…” She left out how many of her dance partners were always stepping on her toes. “I’m sure you have one just as grand back on Doom.”
“No…we don’t…” murmured Lotor, stepping away from her to gape at the room. The floors were half exposed, in the midst of being covered by wall to wall carpeting for the festivities. As expected, the harried slaves had, had to change it several times due to Corral’s indecisive nature when it came to decorating. Lotor knelt down, and was shocked to see the floor was made out of onyx, actual onyx, not pieces of it embedded into the floor. It must have been very expensive and time consuming to have been able to search out and mine intact such large slabs of the mineral. “My father is not a very social man…what gatherings he hold is in the throne room…”
Corral frowned. That room had been dimly illuminated, with tons of gold and blood red tapestries hanging about. The floor a mud brown, the walls a dull gray..there had also been a funny smell permeating the air. “Then I’m doubly glad we are not having the ceremony there.”
“Why bother to cover the floor…” Lotor murmured. He knew many rich people who would love to flaunt off this extravagant wonder.
“Many people have already seen it.” Corral shrugged. “I want our wedding to be special.”
“Right…” Lotor stood, and continued his inspection of the ballroom. Several large columns holding up the ceiling, were placed about the room. “Gold?” He asked, feeling one.
“Gold plated.” She explained.
“Ah…” Off to one side, the buffet table had been set up. And more than half of the room had been curtained off, with chairs and tables set out. Still plenty of space left for the guests to dance.
“This has always been my favorite room for this…” Corral said, and she signaled one of the guards that escorted them to dim the lights. The room was plunged into near darkness.
“Aren’t you afraid I’ll run?” asked Lotor.
“Where would you go?” asked Corral, her lips quirking into a smile. “The room has no windows.”
“I hadn’t noticed.” Lotor said truthfully.
“Indeed, you seemed a bit distracted…” Corral giggled, thinking how Lotor had practically had dollar signs in his eyes when he noticed the gold pillars. “But a view of the night is a wonderful way to set the mood…” His Drule eyes noted she held a tiny remote in her hand, and when she pressed a button, a whirring grind sounded.
“When the music is playing, you can’t even hear it.” She said. “Look up Lotor.”
He looked up, and gasped in delight. The ceiling had parted, to reveal the night sky of Demos, full of twinkling stars, and rainbow hued comets. “You have a chandelier…” His brow furrowed, realizing it wasn’t open air he was looking at. “A glass ceiling?”
“Keeps the chill of the cold season out, and protects against snow and rain.” She explained. “Plus…the crystals on the chandelier reflect star light marvelously…” The ceiling had now opened enough, so that the chandelier’s full effect could be witness. Spots of lights scattered all about the room, the walls, the people…and the onyx floor, the different colored stone specs being brought out…the jade…cobolt…topaz…
“On National Holidays, or when we’ve won another victory…” Corral was saying. “We open the ceiling, and shoot off fireworks. It’s a grand sight indeed.”
“I’ll bet.” agreed Lotor, growing more and more impressed, and just a little envious his father did not see fit to have a room such as this for entertaining guests back home. “Tell me Corral…have you ever danced under the night sky?”
She blushed. “Oh no…everyone is usually to busy admiring the view to think of anything else…and…well…I didn’t have anyone I would want to dance with under such a romantic setting.”
“Well then Corral…” He bowed. “Would you do me the honor of being the first to dance with you here?”
She blushed again. “Yes…yes…I would like that…” She took his hand in hers, his other hand going around her waist, while her free one bunched up her skirts. And together, they began dancing perfectly, a watlz with no music.
Folding her uniform neatly, she placed it under the pilot’s seat. Running her hands over the coarse material of the dress she had put on, she steeled herself for leaving the safety of her invisible lion. “Almost forgot…” She muttered, removing her crown. That would have been a dead give away! What castle servant walked around with a golden tiara in their hair? She gave herself a quick once over in her pocket mirror, frowning at her hair. She had bought dye to disguise it’s golden sheen, but…had botched the effort…it was now a streaked mess, a mixture of gold and raven black. With the hair and green contacts she didn’t look like Princess Allura, but she still looked memorable enough for someone to maybe remember seeing her skulking about the castle. Allura was too modest, and perhaps too naive to realize, that even dressed in potato sack, men would notice her for being beautiful. And that walking about without the protection of her royal status, that beauty might prove to be a disadvantage.
She learned that soon enough, for as she tried to sneak out of the hanger, suddenly a hand clamped down on her shoulder. “What have we got here?” A man cried, spinning her around. “Well!” His eyes widened in appreciation. “Now this is a pleasant surprise.”
“Oh please let me go sir!” Allura begged, trying to pull away from him. “I’ll be late for my shift in the kitchen’s if I don’t hurry.”
“The kitchen’s eh?” His eyes ran over her body, only briefly looking at the clothing she wore. “Your not dressed like one of the palace wenches.” He smirked. “I think I caught myself a runaway.”
“Oh no! I would never run away from a duty that was assigned to me. See that was why I was in a hurry…I have to go change, and then report to the…the head cook…and…”
“Don’t play stupid with me girl!” He barked, cutting off Allura’s babbling. “You know very well I meant you are a runaway slave!”
“Wha..what?” squealed Allura.
“Do you know the penalty for trying to escape? Do you girl?!” He shook her. “A slave can be shot on sight, though in first offense cases, maybe just a severe beating will be issued.” He fingered her hair. “Hmm…clean..” And grabbed her hand, roughly feeling her fingers. “Soft…not knowing hard work…you’re either very new to slavery, or…” He licked his lips, ogling her body. He made Allura feel as though she was naked. “A pleasure slave. So which is it girl?”
“If I ripped off your clothes, would I find skin that had not yet known the lash?”
“Please, if you just let me go…” begged Allura. “I’m sure they’re looking for me by now.”
“Yes, someone probably is looking for you. You have such a freshness to you…” He reached out to touch her face, and she jerked from his hand as though she had been burned. “An appealing naivety…someone is bound to be missing such a prize…there will be a reward in it…or maybe…” He leered. “You’d like to give me something to keep me quiet?” From the looks of her, she had to be a pleasure slave of one of the nobles. It was rare to find one about unescorted. Even rarer for once such as he to be able to have sport with one.
“I…I have some credits…”
“I don’t want your money.”
“You…you don’t?” Allura frowned. “Then what?” He leaned in, and whispered the vile deed he wanted her to perform. Her face flamed, and her lips parted to show her teeth flashing in a snarl. “YOU PIG!!” She drew back to slap him. “How dare you speak to me like that!”
“And how dare you strike a free man!” He snarled, throwing her to the ground.
“Salteris…what’s taking so long?” A snobbish voice demanded. Salteris froze, and turned. “Your Lordship, I was just…”
“Fooling around, when you have a job to do.” A short man, expensively if garish dressed stepped into Allura’s line of sight. “And who is this lovely lady?” He asked, sweeping his plumed hat off, as he bowed to her.
“Just a runaway slave.” muttered Salteris.
“I told you, I work in the kitchen!” snapped Allura.
“Of course you do, my dear.” agreed the Noble. “You must forgive Salteris. He’s rather…excitable…”
“That’s not what I would call it…” Allura shivered.
“Again, my most profuse apologies.” The Noble said.
“It’s all right.” Allura said, eager to get away. “I really must be on my way.”
“Of course dear…servant life calls…anything to make a credit…”
“Er…right…good bye…” She quickly ran off.
“Interesting…” The noble murmured, watching her go.
“Why’d you let her go?” demanded a sullen Salteris. “She’s obviously a runaway slave!”
“Ah, but who’s slave is she?” demanded the noble. “Salteris, I want you to…make inquiries…see if her story checks out…”
“Yes Lord Mika.” Salteris nodded. “Should I find out who owns her?”
“You can try.” Mika nodded. “I’ll check the database to. I want to purchase that girl.”
“I don’t blame you.” Salteris smirked.
“Not for me you dolt!” Mika hissed. “You know my tastes runs elsewhere. No…I want to present her as a gift at the prince’s bachelor party.”
“But you already have several women picked out for the party.” Salteris protested.
“Never question me!” Mika snapped. “I know what I’m doing.”
“Yes…your lordship? What if her kitchen servant story checks out?”
“Well, that will make things all too easy for us.” Mika smiled nastily. “Issuing falsified slave papers is a simple enough deal. Either way, I will have that girl for Prince Lotor!”