Hazar and Merla weren’t going to go away easily. They had an eye on my throne, a hunger for my kingdom. They weren’t content to toil away as minor players ruling planets that had no real impact on the Empire or the Denubian Galaxy. They wanted it all, my everything, and I could only wonder how long their alliance would hold should I be displaced from my throne.
I didn’t for one second think the two would be content to share the Empire between them. One or both would get greedy, and then move to eliminate the other. But for now so long as I was in power, they had a common enemy to vanquish. It was two against one, and even with Haggar as my most stalwart supporter, the odds had now been stacked against me. It was all my own fault, I had set myself up by allowing Allura back into my life. Tonight’s events, Garrant’s murder, the tests I had failed? They had only been the latest in damning evidence, my people having long worried about my involvement with Allura beforehand.
It was a mess of my own making, but I didn’t intend to let it be the end to my glorious reign. I’ve withstood enemies in the past, Zarkon, the Voltron Force, even Hazar himself. I’m determined to outlast these new foes, to rid myself of the problems Merla tries to cause. I’ll keep alert for my chance, anticipating that it will come and come soon. Merla and Hazar will slip up, they HAVE to if I am to have any success at removing their vileness from my Empire.
Of course worry lays with the suspicion that by the time they do act, it won’t be until after the Empire has been thrust into civil war. I do not want that to happen, but fear it is unstoppable. The support for Merla and Hazar grows, especially after this night. When the fighting inevitably breaks out, they will be firmly entrenched in the midst of it, leaving me to fight past hundreds if not thousands to cut down the traitors.
Merla and Hazar don’t truly care about the lives that will be lost in their bid for my kingdom. They excuse their actions by claiming they are doing what is best for the Empire, trying to put who they think is the better man on the throne. But that’s a lie. What could Hazar possibly offer an Empire that has been built up almost from the ground by my own two hands? How can he even hope to hold things together, when the Empire is so dependant on my actions, my decisions? I am what has made this Empire great, I am the reason we have surpassed the Alliance, seen it and Garrison fall apart. And I will be damned thrice over before I let my Empire be destroyed by that pair’s greed and ambition.
It is harder to reconcile myself against eliminating the other threat to my rule. Allura is a poison, infecting my thoughts, my actions, many of my decisions. And yet I move not to cut that poison out, instead merely striving to minimize the damage she can cause. Tonight has been a prime example of that, from the tests, to covering up the true culprit behind Garrant’s murder, to giving Merla and Hazar just a little more rope to hang me.
I don’t yet feel the coils of that rope closing around my neck, but it’s there all the same. Invisible bonds ready to choke the life out of me, and yet I had denied myself the chance to cut free when I had chosen to protect Allura. But I cannot, will not, imagine a life without Allura playing some part in it. Happy or sad, damned or blessed, our lives are entwined. It’s been that way since she was sixteen, and even through the ten years of separation, she had always been the motivating force behind my actions. Love, sadness, anger, the need for revenge. I’ve felt it all and then some. Just as Allura has felt similar, keeping track of my exploits out of sheer desperation and need. It’s always been because of Arus that she has been aware of me. First as it’s conqueror than as it’s would be savior. Whatever hat I wear, we’ve always been pulled towards each other, fate tying us together for good or for bad.
Right now I’d say we are in for a lot worse than what we’ve already gotten. We may drag each other down, the Empire crumbling as my people fight it out amongst each other. Without my backing, Arus will continue it’s downward spiral, the people there wiped out from infighting, sickness, and starvation. No one else will care. No one else will bother to try to help Arus, no matter what Allura tries to offer. With no other options left to her, I can only hope that Allura realizes just how much value I truly am to her. I certainly hope she can appreciate what has happened tonight, the risks I have taken, the things I might inadvertently be sacrificing to keep her alive.
It is with those thoughts, that I enter my bedroom. I don’t immediately see Allura, my eyes blinking several times to adjust to the dim lighting. The yellow glow of light on the covers, shows the bed is empty, sheets perfect in their undisturbed state. I frown, casting my gaze about. The overstuff arm chair is also empty, but it’s missing several cushions. I’ll find them and Allura behind the chair, the woman cuddling asleep on the floor with them.
For one second I am unsure what to think of her choice in makeshift beds. Is she trying to hide, and from whom? Me? Or is it those who would demand justice for Garrant’s murder? Or is there a more obvious reason? One that has little to do with what happened tonight, and more to do what had gone on in this room in days past. Was Allura so disgusted by me that she couldn’t even stand to sleep in my bed, or in one of the chairs I had fucked her on?
I try not to let anger fester any more than the first stirrings of it. Instead I try to look at the room from Allura’s eyes, noting there is little seat or surface that we hadn’t had sex on. I had been downright brutal, taking her whenever and wherever the fancy struck me, my desire having little patience for her protests. This room is full of memories, and few if any are good even to me. I don’t even want to consider how much worse it is for Allura, or how what had happened in this room had been as close to a private hell as she could get.
I sigh then, kneeling down besides her sleeping form. She’s done away with the dress Garrant had torn apart, instead wearing one of my shirts for modesty’s sake. It bags on her thin form, and even with the sleeves rolled up, the fabric comes down to her wrists. What is waist length on me, drapes down past her knees, though in her sleep, Allura has caused the material to hike up her legs. For once the sight of her bare thighs doesn’t stir the hunger in me, I am more tired than I had realized, that self inflicted wound of mine hurting and draining me of much of my usual vigor and energy.
Merla’s incessant arguing had seen to taking the rest, and right now, as silly as it seems, the idea of simply laying down next to Allura holds an appeal like no other. But not on the floor. I still have standards, and I shift carefully to scoop Allura up in my arms. She doesn’t wake immediately, I’m able to hold her against my chest, to breathe in the scent of her recently shampooed hair. Even as I luxuriate in the calming effect the scent and nearness of Allura has on me, I feel envy that she was able to enjoy a shower while I had had to deal with questions and accusations that had seemed unending.
The questions will keep on coming in the morning. My people aren’t at all satisfied with what I’ve said has happened, the Drule representatives divided on what to believe. On who to think set up who. Worse yet there will have to be an official announcement made soon, to let the public know of their hero commander’s passing.
There will be so much to do, so much to deal with on top of the typical concerns of the Empire and it’s worlds. I don’t look forward to the headaches that will come with it all, knowing that right now, this moment is my one brief respite from tomorrow’s troubles.
I make it to the bed, and am in the process of laying Allura down on it when she starts to wake up. I don’t know if she’s dreaming, or if she’s aware that it is me who touches her. But she whimpers all the same, and before I can attempt to calm her, she screams.
A slap follows that scream. My cheek stings, and I growl, the sound low, dangerous. She begins her struggles in earnest, and we find ourselves in a familiar position. I’ve pinned her beneath me, my body reacting on instinct to the slap, working to minimize the threat she attempts to pose to me.
She’s shaking her head, half snarled out screams protesting my nearness, Allura trying to buck me off her body. Her eyes are cinched tightly closed, and she shakes as violently as her earlier slap.
“Allura!” I snarl back at her, gripping hold of her arms and shaking her. Her eyes open, but she doesn’t calm down, anger and revulsion mixed into the blue of them. She knows it’s me, must think I am on top of her to pick up on one of the many times I have raped her in this bed.
It seems laughable to tell her I am not going to hurt her, when it’s exactly what I’ve done, and will most likely keep on doing. I know I can’t even promise I will never touch her again in a moment of desire, the lust though muted by my pain and tiredness is still there. Still ready to take from her all it can.
Allura watches the frustration pass over my face, and it confuses her. She realizes that though I lay on top of her, I am making no further moves, nor am I attempting to tie her up. She doesn’t trust this to relax her guard, Allura glaring at me, expression stony and furious. But she’s stopped screaming, willing to listen to me.
I am almost unsure of what to say to her. I am not used to truly talking to her, just ordering her around, telling her what it will be like, and insulting her. Perhaps now shouldn’t be any different, perhaps we should both stick best to what we already know.
“I am going to get off of you.” I say to Allura. “You WILL NOT attack me.” I don’t have to make any threats for what will happen should she make another attempt to hit me. Allura knows my retaliation will not be something to enjoy on her part. So she closes her eyes in resignation, and nods a heart beat later. I seethe inside, but slowly roll off her body.
Allura doesn’t try to sit up, laying with her eyes closed. She opens them again when I resume speaking.
“The others know the commander has been killed.” She doesn’t yet speak, doesn’t so much as nod in understanding. “I’ve informed them that he died by my own hand.”
“And…” A hesitation on Allura’s part. “And they believe you?”
“If they even suspected you had played any role in the actual murder, you would not be sitting here in my bed.” I tell her, and watch the shiver work it’s way through her. “There is no excuse for a slave attacking and killing a Drule. Nor is there any mercy shown to the offending slave.”
“None Allura.” I snap insistently. “No matter what the Drule attempts to do to you, no matter what you are attempting to defend yourself from, even to save your own life is not a good enough reason for what you did tonight.”
“It was…” She bit at her bottom lip for a second. “I didn’t mean to kill him. I just wanted him to stop….”
“It doesn’t matter what you wanted.” I tell her. “He’s dead all the same.”
“So…that’s it then? That man is dead, his murder covered just another debt I owe you?”
Her insolent tone makes me want to slap her, to try and jar some sense into her. “You owe me for a lot more than just that!” I hiss at her. “Do you have any idea what you’ve set into motion? The troubles you’ve laid at my feet just by appearing before me?”
A quick shake of her head, her blue eyes wide with something, apprehension and fear the dominant emotions I see reflected there. I have to take a few quick breaths to try and calm down the worst of my anger, but it seethes and festers inside me, stirred up by what had happened, what continued to happen, by my frustration at being seemingly helpless to stop what Hazar and Merla were setting into motion.
Some of it leaks into my expression, Allura trembling but brave, foolishly asking me to explain what I meant by that.
“You’re giving my enemies perfect opportunities to act against me.”
“I didn’t think you had any enemies left.” Allura says softly. But her look is bold, her words accusing. “Not after all your killings!”
“‘I’ve made no attempts to hide the stains on my soul.” My own tone is cold, hostility frosting the air.
“No, you’ve only flaunted and reveled in your wrong doings!” The blue of her eyes is boring into me, Allura downright haughty in the moment. “You built your empire on crushed dreams, on the bodies of the many you’ve killed, on the backs of the millions you’ve enslaved.”
“An inconsequential price to pay, when you compare it to the billions who have prospered and flourished under my rule.” I counter back.
“It’s wrong!” She insists. “You shouldn’t profit off the suffering and misfortune of others!”
“And yet did you not seek to do the same in coming here to Doom? In brokering a deal with me, the devil you so despise?”
“It wasn’t like that!” She protests quick enough. “I merely wanted Arus to be given the chance it had been denied. To get the help it needs to be able to stand on it’s own feet.”
“And how do you expect to do that without the use of my money? By your own admission, it’s tainted, earned off the suffering of those less fortunate than the Drule.” I laugh when she has no ready answer. “You can’t close your eyes and pretend Allura. If I, if the Empire is evil for what it’s done, we don’t suddenly become good just because we are attempting to do Arus a favor.”
“Some favor.” She mutters bitterly.
“Watch your tone.” I order her, and her gaze turns downright defiant.
“Does the truth of it hurt, Lotor?” She asks me. “Does it make you unable to pretend that your so called generosity comes at a steep price? Does it keep you from pretending that you’ve not wronged me or my people? Or is it too much to hope that you’d be unable to sleep at night for all the wrongs you have done and continue to do?”
“Listen you little fool.” I hissed, snatching hold of her arm. I let the tips of my nails dig in, claws cutting into her soft skin. “You’re so smug, so self righteous over what you think you know, you don’t even bother to find out the truth of what is really going on!”
“The truth?” She scoffs then, though she wisely makes no attempt to jerk free of my claws. “And what truth is that?!”
“Your actions have consequences.” I say. “Tonight for instance….”
“A man is dead.” Allura nods as though she understands perfectly. “It is unfortunate but….”
I want to laugh at the way she tries to shrug off Garrant’s passing. “It’s more than just one man’s death.” I interrupt her. “The commander was a hero of the Drule. A well respected, well liked man who will be sorely missed by many.” Allura still wore a stubborn look of defiance, making me both want to grit my teeth in annoyance, and sigh in exasperation. “He was considered loyal to the Empire, a true asset to my people. How do you think that will look, the fact that I killed him in a fight over you?”
Comprehension dawned in her eyes, Allura losing her defiant look.
“I of course, have tried to spin an angle to minimize the damage his death causes me. But not everyone is willing to believe so easily.”
“So they are not all sheep who follow you anywhere…” Allura murmured thoughtfully, then winced at the vicious way I dug my claws into her arm.
“They are loyal to a point.” I say. “But circumstance has them running scared, scrambling to make sure what is best for the Empire really happens.”
“And they no longer believe that’s you?”
I was loathe to admit it to her, but I nodded all the same, unprepared for the mocking peals of laughter she let out. That laughter drew to a halt with a gasp, my grip turning crushing on her arm. Allura’s expression turned to pain, and she managed to weakly cry out.
“Your highness, you are hurting me!”
I didn’t relax my grip, staring infuriated at her. “Before you think to celebrate my troubles, think carefully on what it means if I lose control of my Empire.”
“You’ll be banished or worse.” She managed to gasp out around the pain. “A new King will sit on the throne.”
“And a new king will have little reason to help you or your world.” I tell her, grim satisfaction coloring my words.
“I’ll make a deal with him….”
Now it was my turn to laugh. “You think to offer the same deal you gave me? You think Hazar or Merla will even be tempted, after the problems they’ve seen you cause me?”
Her face was turning red, but it was no shy maiden’s blush, but pain that caused that coloring. “I don’t understand…”
“My people have been uneasy since you arrived on Doom. Worried what your presence here means, worried about my involvement with you. They fear I am still obsessed, that I’ll let some lingering feelings for you cloud my judgement. They fear that together, we will be the ruin of this great Empire, and there’s little I can do to assure them that will not happen! Especially after failing tonight’s test.”
She was probably going to pass out from pain if I didn’t let go of her arm, and yet Allura continued to gasp out words. “What test?”
“If I had let the commander have you, that would have gone quite a ways in alleviating some of their fears. The fact that I did not, that I not only came to your rescue, but seemingly killed over you? It only strengthens their suspicions, and gives Merla and Hazar ample opportunity to sway more to their side.”
“Lotor…” She begged, and I abruptly let go of Allura’s arm. She immediately crumpled backwards onto the bed, clutching her bleeding, hurt arm to her. I hadn’t broken the bone, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Allura’s arm didn’t suffer a sprain at least. And yet I was also impressed, downright amazed that she hadn’t started crying in pain or hysterics.
“The fact is, as many as there are that would see me gone, there is even more that want to rid the Empire of your taint. The new King, even if he was so inclined towards you, would be an absolute fool to keep you alive after the problems your presence has brought me. And Arus? If they were lucky, Arus would be abandoned, the people left to their unenviable fate.”
“That still sounds better than what you had planned for it.” Her voice was weak, Allura still cradling her arm.
“Oh?” I leaned over her, my face just mere inches from hers. “And that is….?”
“Enslavement.” She whispered.
“Ah yes, there is that.” I smile evilly. “Another one of those truths you haven’t bothered to find out about.”
“What else is there to know?” She asks. “I heard you use the word…”
“You heard, but did not understand even half of what was being said!” I roar over her, watching Allura flinch back from my shout. “You recognized what…a handful of words, if even that much. And then what did you do, but assume you know everything. And like a fool, you not only try to end our agreement, but you attempted to run from me. Not caring for yourself, or the consequences it would have for Arus.”
“But then….” I pause, and give her my most bitter filled look. “You’ve always been like that.”
“What?” She shook her head no. “I’ve always been aware, always careful for what my actions mean for Arus and it’s people.”
“Not careful enough.” I mutter, than wag a finger in her face. “That brings me to another truth. Arus wouldn’t be in the state it is in, if you had said yes to my proposal of ten years ago.”
“I had my reasons.” She retorts. “And the full backing of my advisor and the Voltron Force.”
“Reasons.” Now I scoff. “You were a scared child that was too selfish to sacrifice your sainted virtue to the big, bad King who would have loved and worshipped you.”
“Selfish?!” Her jaw had dropped open, Allura forgetting about the pain of her arm for the moment.
“You didn’t think to consider for one moment the good you could have accomplished as my Queen.” I continue. “Not just for Arus, but for the entire galaxy. Back then I was stupid enough to let my love blind me, to allow you to lead me around to do just about anything you desired. And all I asked was for you to be my bride, and try to love me back.”
“You never would have given me that much power.” She protests. “And I’ve experienced first hand what night after night would have been like as your bride…”
“You experienced nothing of that sort!” I snap back. “You think this is how I would have treated you back then? When I adored you, loved you to the point I considered you precious? No, you lost out on a Lotor that was naive, on a Lotor fool enough to turn his Empire inside out to please you. Arus and all the other worlds that have suffered? It’s your fault! You gave up your chance to do true good, to reach beyond your limits as a princess of some pathetic backwoods planet.”
“It’s all your fault Allura.” I continue ruthlessly. “You were stupid and stubborn, and always making assumptions, rather than taking the risk to try and find the truth out about me. And you are still doing it now!”
Her eyes had grown wet, though she hadn’t let any tears actually fall. “Don’t you even want to know what is really going on with Arus?” I ask her. A heart beat’s pause, Allura studying my expression. And then she nods, and I really do exhale.
“Then take my hand.” I tell her, and she looks at it. I don’t wear any expression in the moment, carefully blank as I wait for her decision. Again that slow nod before she reaches for my hand, her movements hesitant, her body seeming to tremble harder. I don’t know what I am hoping as I guide her off the bed, but I wonder if what I am about to show her will be enough to pull off a miracle or if I will once again end up disappointed, crushed by Allura’s stubborn rejections.