Enemy 18

Her shower was quicker than she would have liked, but Allura hadn’t felt she had the luxury of time to linger in the cascade of the soothing water’s heat. Not when so much rode on her delivering Lotor to Doctor Gorma, the Drule’s blood needed if they were going to have a fighting chance against the Keraclon. It was vital they get to work right away, studying and working to replicate the vaccine that currently coursed through Lotor’s body. She wouldn’t be able to relax otherwise, not until their defense was made ready.

Stepping out of the bathroom, she was greeted by the prince’s voice. Her husband sounded uncertain, almost troubled as he spoke. “Allura I…”

“Save it Lotor.” She retorted, in no mood for his words, be they troubled or sincere. In fact she had little tolerance left in her for him in general, Allura giving the bed a wide berth as she traveled over to the closet. Someone, Nanny no doubt, had seen to leave fresh clothes for her inside it, Allura almost smiling when she saw her familiar pink jump suit.

There was also plenty of borrowed clothing for Lotor, Allura snatching shirt and pants off of the rack at random. “Get dressed.” She told him, and flung the clothes in his direction. They fell short of the bed, but she made no move to correct that, leaving Lotor to shift and crawl to the edge of the mattress.

“You’re angry with me…” Lotor noted, and she made a half laugh, half scoffing sound.

“Is it that obvious?” Allura asked, dropping her towel as she stood in the shadows of the closet’s door. She quickly got dressed, pulling on bra and panties, and then the jump suit. The sleeves were long, the ends a ruffled length that draped over her hands. Some foresight of Nanny’s had allowed the woman to choose a top with a high, white collar, the perfect way to hide those bruises Lotor had called kiss marks.

Once dressed, she fetched her boots from the closet floor, and walked over to the room’s dressing table. She quickly pulled on the white vinyl, noticing Lotor’s reflection in the mirror. He was struggling to button up his short sleeve shirt one handed, but she felt not an ounce of sympathy towards him. Not when she felt so angry in the moment.

“Why are you so angry?” Lotor asked after a lengthy pause. Allura said nothing, searching the counter top for something to dress her hair with. She found hair pins laid out, and hid a smile. Trust Nanny to know her tastes, and have the foresight to leave new ones out so that Allura could put her hair up into it’s familiar bun. She set about to doing just that, Lotor at last getting his shirt closed.

“I told you what you wanted to know!” He added, petulant in the moment. “I’ve given you the key to fighting off the Keraclon! What more could you want…?” Allura bristled, but didn’t rise to the bait, sliding in pin after pin to secure her hair into place. “You can’t be still mad about planet Zegabob…”

“Do you really think me so…quick to get over the deaths of those people?” She demanded of his reflection. “There was a loss of some two hundred fifty-million people!”

“A tragedy yes, but no use losing sleep over what we cannot change.” Lotor retorted. It was just another reminder of his alien nature, Lotor seeming unflappable about the deaths that had occurred. She hated that he could be so calm over what he had set into motion, Allura pounding a fist on the table, rattling the contents there.

“You don’t feel any remorse for what you did!”

“Not really, no.” Lotor admitted easily enough.

“How can you be so cold? So unfeeling?!” Allura demanded, turning to him. He had managed to get his pants on, and was struggling with his boots.

“I feel plenty.” He retorted back to her. “Just because I am not suffering the same emotions you feel for the situation that occurred on Zegabob, doesn’t mean I am an unfeeling monster!”

“I think you feel only the emotions that are convenient to you.” Allura snapped, and rose from her seat. His crutch was still by the room’s exit, and she went to retrieve it now. “Or maybe…” She continued snidely, coming to him to hand over the crutch. “Maybe you choose to only feel that which will make you feel good about yourself…”

“I’m feeling pretty bad right about now.” He muttered, taking the crutch from her.

“Why?” She wanted to know, watching as Lotor struggled to lift himself up out of bed.

“Why?” He repeated, and she nodded, seeing her question had caught him off guard. “Well….you’re hurt and angry with me….it’s not the way I wanted our married
life to start off…”

“You’re a fool if you hoped for anything more!” Allura snapped back, and then was striding for the bedroom’s door. She didn’t pause to see if he was following her, Allura throwing open the door. Thankfully there was no one present in the corridor. Allura didn’t think she would have been able to meet their eyes if there had been, especially with the chance of them having heard the screams and shouts she and Lotor had done during the night and early morning.

It didn’t mean she’d be able to avoid the looks indefinitely. Everyone in the castle had to know she was married to Lotor now, and would rightfully assume they had been intimate. Allura had to call on her last reserves of strength to be able to walk down the hall with her head held high, her look almost defiant in the moment, daring anyone to say anything or pity her.

Lotor hobbled along behind her, trying to keep up with the fast pace her anger had set into motion. Thankfully the distance between them kept Lotor from trying to talk to her, Allura not wanting to have to choose from slowing down to listen, or having him shout their business for all to hear.

The ride in the castle’s elevator to the ground floor where the medical wing was located, was awkward, Allura keeping her eyes fixed on the door. But out of the corner of her eye, she could see Lotor studying her, his expression hinting that he was trying to figure her out. She didn’t think he could, they were too different, the human and Drule way of thinking complex in the differences they held.

The elevator dinged it’s arrival at their floor, Allura stepping out to surprised faces. No one had expected her to come visit the medical wing, especially not on the morning after her wedding night. She could only imagine the kinds of things they must be assuming as the reason for this visit, but she didn’t falter. Instead she spoke loudly, announcing her need for the doctor.

“Someone find Doctor Gorma.” She said, as Lotor stepped off the elevator. “Tell him it’s of the vital importance.”

“Yes, princess!” A nurse scurried off, but not before giving Lotor a considering look.

“And someone should alert Coran to this.” She realized, not having paused to consult anyone else before coming to the castle’s hospital. “Have him, and the pilots Pidge and Hunk come here as soon as it’s feasible for them.” She didn’t know if the boys would be up yet, it was barely past dawn when Lotor had revealed to her about the Keraclon vaccine.

Coran would be up though, the man always one early to rise, and late to bed.. And all because of the many duties his role as advisor to the royal family gave him, Coran having plenty of paperwork and jobs to oversee.

“Princess, would you and your husband like to wait in a private room?” An orderly asked, and she couldn’t help bristling at hearing someone acknowledge Lotor as her husband.

“Yes, please.” Her smile was fake, a plastered on kindness to put the man at ease. It surely didn’t reach her eyes, and if she wasn’t careful, everyone would be able to tell she was upset over more than just her marriage to Prince Lotor.

“Right this way.” The orderly said, and turned to lead them through the small waiting area of the hospital. This time of day it was empty, the patients under the doctor’s care all manageable cases that didn’t need round the clock vigil. It was always different after an attack from Doom, the waiting room crowded with concerned family members and friends. They’d wait an endless amount of time for any word, good or bad about their love ones’ conditions.

It wasn’t just the soldiers that helped to defend Arus from attacks that were treated at this hospital. The medical facility in the castle of lions was one of the best, if not THE best care on Arus, and many flocked from different cities and towns to be treated here. Allura willingly opened the doors to her home to treat those with the most serious of illnesses, well aware that Doctor Gorma and his staff might be their only hope at a cure.

The orderly led them past the empty waiting room, and into a long hall. On either side of the halls were doors, with small windows cut into the wood, allowing a glimpse into the rooms. Allura tried not to look, not wanting to be overly curious about those who were being treated on the other side. But she couldn’t help but catch glimpses of sickly pale faces, their bodies laying bundled under sheets.

Eventually the orderly stopped before one room in particular, and taking a ring of keys out of his pocket, unlocked the door. “You can wait inside here.” He said, and she nodded, Allura knowing there was little chance of them needing this room right now.

“Thank you.” She said, and swept pass him into the room. The orderly kept on holding the door, Lotor moving slower to follow her inside. She ignored him to look around, noting the pale green walls, and ivory color floor, two beds against one wall, and a chair between them. Lotor walked himself over to that chair, and lowered himself down, seeming more content to rest than continue to stand with his twisted ankle.

There was a window cut into the far right wall, and she went to it now, opening it just a crack to breathe in the fresh air of Arus. It chased away some of the chemical smell of the hospital, and the view of the forest was lovely. She could have gone on staring for an infinite amount of time, but then Lotor broke their silence.

“It seems hospitals look the same, no matter what the planet.”

“Hmmm.” A noncommittal sound from her, Allura crossing her arms over her chest.

“Allura….how long are you gonna maintain your anger?” He finally demanded with a sigh.

“I think forever sounds about good right now.” She retorted, not looking at him.

“You can’t spend the rest of your, our lives, being mad at me!” He protested, and she smiled, her reflection looking cruel in the moment.

“If you don’t like the idea of that, then divorce me.”

“I won’t do that!” Lotor snapped, aghast. “How can you even suggest such a thing to me?” She shrugged then in reply. “Allura, I know because of my…history with women, you don’t believe in certain things. But I am committed to this marriage, committed to making it work.”

“You’re the only one then.” Allura murmured, his sigh making her turn. “What did you expect Lotor? Did you really think I’d just happily admit defeat, and cater to your ideals of a perfect wife? You blackmailed me into this farce, and frankly I don’t have the energy or desire to play at being happy when I am not!”

“You wouldn’t have to pretend, if you just let down your guard and tried to…”

“Tried to what?!” She interrupted him.

“Tried to love me.” He finished lamely.

“You ask for the impossible.” Allura told him. “I could never love someone who took away all my choices, forced me to be with him!”

“And what would your choice have been if I hadn’t come along?” Lotor demanded, and now he was getting angry. “You wouldn’t have married for love! You would have been too concerned on making the best deal possible for Arus. You would have sold yourself like a whore, all to potentially make life better for your people!”

She turned an angry crimson at his words, Allura all but shouting. “Aren’t I already a whore, for giving in to you?!”

“That’s different.” He insisted, and she scoffed.

“How?” Allura shook her head then, a bitter laugh escaping her. “You don’t even know, do you? You found my price, and paid it…congratulations Lotor, you won.” Another twisted laugh. “You won.”

“I don’t feel very victorious right now.” He grumbled in response.

“Don’t expect me to feel any pity for that!” She exclaimed.

“Allura, you..” Whatever Lotor had been about to say was lost as a rapid knock sounded on the room’s door. Both of them stood there staring at each other, tension
apparent as the door opened. Coran was then revealed to them, a sleepy Hunk and Pidge standing behind him.

“Princess…You wanted to see us?” Coran asked, and she finally tore her eyes away from Lotor.

“Yes, Coran. I did.” She gestured for them to step inside, noting Pidge had lifted up his glasses so that he could rub at his eyes.

“How are you, princess?” Hunk asked, voice rife with his concern. He was trying not to be obvious in looking her over, but it was clear he was looking for signs of abuse.

She drew up straighter, her eyes gentling enough for her to thank him for his concern. “I’m fine Hunk.” She let out a breath, preparing to tell them what she knew. “The Drules have developed a vaccine. One that once injected into the bloodstream renders one immune from the Keraclon’s telepathy.”

Their expressions were amazed at her revelation, Allura smiling grimly. At least a dozen questions were voiced, Allura holding up her hand for silence. “The Drules died for this research of theirs, but it was not in vain. Lotor himself carries the vaccine in his blood. I mean to have Doctor Gorma extract it, so that our best minds can study and replicate the vaccine. If we’re lucky, they’ll figure it out quick enough to help us erect our defense against the Keraclon.”

“Where is Doctor Gorma!?” demanded Pidge, excitement in his eyes. “We need to get Lotor’s blood drawn as soon as possible!”

“Trust me Pidge, if I thought it would help, I’d stick him myself with needles.” Allura’s chuckled inwardly at her grim humor. “I’ve already sent for Doctor Gorma, he should be here shortly.”

Hunk looked at Lotor now, expression considering. “It’s a good thing the princess didn’t leave you to bleed to death on that planet then.”

“Yeah!” agreed Pidge. “Else we would have lost our means to combat the Keraclon on fair ground.” Lotor looked annoyed that they were implying his life’s worth was only for that of the vaccine, but at least he didn’t growl out a retort.

“We’ll be able to do more than just fight them off…” Coran pointed out. “We’ll be able to exterminate the whole race if need be.”

“Coran, I am shocked at you.” Lotor spoke up. “Are you advocating the wiping out of an entire race?” A tsking sound followed that question, cold amusement in Lotor’s eyes. “And you say me and my people are evil.”

“Don’t pretend you Drules didn’t develop that vaccine so you couldn’t kill off the Keraclon too!” Pidge snapped. “They’re a menace, worse than the Drule. They don’t deserve to live!”

“Who are we to say who can and can’t live?” Lotor questioned, and looked at Allura. “Isn’t that the kind of thing you heroes would normally say?”

She shifted from foot to foot, Allura uncomfortable with all their words. “I…I don’t like the thought of killing off an entire race of people. But…the Keraclon have done so much evil, so much damage to whole worlds, killing off people, animals, the very heart of the planets. They need to be stopped..and if fighting them off isn’t enough to convince those parasites to change their ways, then…we’ll have to take more extreme measures.”

“Until then, we can work on distributing the vaccine to as many worlds as we can.” Added Coran. “So that the tragedy of Zegabod and many other planets, never repeats itself.”

“The vaccine is only good for a year.” Lotor warned. “You’ll have to readminister it, and there hasn’t been time to study the side effects of prolong use.”

“We’ll worry about that later.” Allura decided, spying Doctor Gorma’s approach through the door’s window. He smiled a greeting to her, and opened the door, everyone turning expectant eyes to him.

“Well, now…” Doctor Gorma said when the door had clicked closed. “When they said the princess and her husband had come to see me, I wasn’t expecting quite this big of a crowd waiting for me.”

“I’m sorry to call you away from your work, but this is an urgent matter.” Allura said, and quickly explained about the Keraclon and the vaccine. An intrigued look appeared in Doctor Gorma’s eyes, the man definitely interested in studying Lotor’s blood.

“Fine, I’ll draw the samples right now.” Doctor Gorma said, and opened his black medical bag. “You will allow me to keep a sample for my own, private studies, won’t you, your highness?”

“Yes, of course.” Allura assured him, watching as he drew out a needle, and laid about twenty empty vials on the bed next to Lotor’s chair. “Any input you can offer our scientists will be greatly appreciated.”

“Speaking of whom…” Coran spoke up, moving to leave the room. “I shall go make the calls. I’m sure we’ll be having our best minds fighting over the chance to study the prince’s blood.”

“Make sure you invite enough that you can spare some of those minds for the trip Allura and I are going to take.” Lotor’s order stopped Coran in his track, everyone turning to look at Lotor. The prince was holding his arm still for Gorma, the doctor tying a band round his upper arm before checking for veins.

“Trip?” Allura asked, and frowned at him. “If you’re thinking we’re to take a honey moon at this time, you’re gravely mistaken.”

“Trust me when I say this will be no pleasure cruise.” Lotor retorted, not wincing as Gorma stuck him with a needle. “But we need to go to Doom.”

“To Doom?!” Came the gasped out exclamations, several of the expressions worn hinting they thought Lotor had lost his mind.

“Yes. I must complete my original mission to bring the vaccine to Doom. Ideally, I would like to have some already made to present to my father’s court.” Lotor explained, and glanced at Gorma. “Makes sure you take as much blood as you can. I want an even amount distributed to both sets of scientists.”

“We are not going to Doom.” Allura stated flatly. “At least, I am not going with you.”

“Your place is at my side.” Lotor reminded her. “Where I go, you go.”

She gave him her most stoniest of glares, and it had no effect on him, Lotor remaining insistent she travel to Doom with him. “Coran, get your fastest ships ready. I want to leave by nightfall.” Lotor said to the advisor.

“The princess of course, will insist on traveling with the best soldiers for her escort.” Warned Coran.

“Ah, you don’t trust me?” Lotor asked, and it was Hunk who let out an angry exclamation.

“You’ve given us no reason too!”

“Yeah!” added Pidge. “You could be setting up another trap for Allura.”

“And why would I need to do that?” Lotor inquired, tone mild. “Allura is my wife now, Arus a part of the Doom Empire. There is no need for tricks or traps of any kind.”

“That remains to be seen.” Allura muttered, turning her eyes to the blood Gorma had drawn. It was the same color as a human’s. a nice crimson shade that looked rich with vitality. It was hard to believe that in it, flowed the key to the Keraclon’s defeat, and Allura hoped it wouldn’t take too long for her scientists to decipher the mysteries of the vaccine.

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