It took some time before everything had been made ready for their journey to Doom, many of the summoned scientists not arriving until close to nightfall. Lotor had been visibly impatient to leave, almost agitated at the delays but Allura hadn’t cared. She would not be rushed, especially not to go to that vile world of his, the princess not looking forward to meeting the man who was now her father in law.
Nor was she willing to blithely walk into his court unprepared, Allura not knowing what to expect from Zarkon and his minions, even with Lotor’s reassurance that they were all allies now. As such, she had picked among the best soldiers employed by the castle of lions, packing the ships with close to five hundred men and women. Of those soldiers, at least a hundred would accompany her inside Castle Doom. The rest would be on stand by, waiting for her signal in case something went wrong.
She hoped it wouldn’t, Allura worried and staring out of one of the large windows that made up the forward and side walls of the viewing deck. The glass was triple paned, thick and sturdy, and reinforced for space travel. She couldn’t see much currently, the speed of hyper drive blurring everything around them, making it look like a million lights surrounded the ship.
Somewhere, amidst the lights was the ship’s escorts, three small battle class vessels that carried more men and smaller fighter craft. It was the maximum amount of aggression they could show, Allura knowing if they really were going to make a go at peace with Doom, they couldn’t arrive with a full army of ships. It was nerve wrecking to think they might be flying into a trap, and Allura once again wondered if she had been foolish to insist on Hunk and Pidge remaining behind on Arus.
The two pilots hadn’t been happy to let her go without them, and even less thrilled that she was bringing blue lion onboard the main vessel. It might be a risk, to bring blue lion to Doom, but Allura wanted the lion close by. Especially if a fight broke out, Allura hoping her training would help make a difference in battle. At least long enough for help to arrive.
Lotor had wisely not argued with her on this, and that made Allura wonder if she was playing into his hands. He’d often tell her she was being too suspicious of him, and Allura would quickly counter that Lotor had given her ample reason to think that way. She didn’t trust him, nor did she particularly like him at this moment, Allura keeping her anger close to her heart.
It made things increasingly difficult between them, Allura trying to avoid Lotor for much of their journey. She had insisted on separate rooms on this ship, and though Lotor had argued a case against that, Allura had ultimately won. It wasn’t as if Lotor had anything left to bargain with, and right now Allura couldn’t stand for him to touch her. But she knew she couldn’t go on avoiding her husband indefinitely, there were things expected of her, of them, the people would eventually demand an heir be produced from this union.
But right now Allura didn’t want to think about the troubles that introducing a child into an unhappy marriage would bring. She just wanted peace, to enjoy the quiet of the near empty viewing deck. She wouldn’t get her wish, Allura hearing the sound of Lotor’s crutch hitting the metal floor. She didn’t turn towards him, holding back a sigh as he drew near to her.
“What is it now?” She asked, still staring out at the lights.
“Your scientists are having too much fun using me as their lab rat.” Grumbled Lotor, making no move to join her on the bench. “I swear they find new excuses by the hour to stick me with their needles.”
She almost smiled then, somehow pleased at the thought of her scientists using Lotor as a pin cushion. “They’re just eager to discover the properties of the vaccine.” Allura replied.
“They’re like a child with a new toy.” Lotor retorted. “With the amount of excitement they radiate.”
“They each want to be the one to discover how to replicate the vaccine.” Allura pointed out with a murmur. She had seen that excitement first hand, first when the scientists had been gathered at the castle of lions, their astonishment apparent as she told them about the vaccine. That excitement only increased when they learned it would be in their hands to discover how to make the formula, the gathered scientists splitting into two groups.
The larger group remained at the Castle of Lions, diligently working on the blood samples Doctor Gorma had drawn from Lotor. The small group, consisting of only eleven men and women, had been frightened at the thought of going to Doom. But most of that fear had been stamped down when they realized their group would have continual access to Lotor and the precious blood contained in his veins.
Allura wouldn’t be surprise if the scientists weren’t abusing the privilege, both groups in an unofficial competition to be the first to make the breakthrough needed. The groups were supposed to be sharing notes and discoveries, using as secure a channel as they could manage to convey those findings. But the competitive nature of the scientists had them keeping secrets from one another, and if the vaccine wasn’t replicated soon, Allura would have to step in and force them to work together.
“It won’t be much longer until we’re at Doom.” Lotor said, stirring her from her thoughts. “And your people have had little success with the vaccine. I won’t have anything to show my father…”
“Except for the vaccine in your blood.” Allura pointed out, and this time smirked. “I’m sure he’ll involve some of Doom’s scientists. You’ll have to endure more stickings!”
“It’s not funny.” Lotor snapped at her, fangs flashing.
She sobered some, but not quite sighing. The journey to Doom had taken nearly two days, even in hyper drive. Two long days, with no results to show for it, and the Keraclon lurking, their whereabouts unknown. Allura wouldn’t be able to feel completely at ease until the vaccine was made, and all her soldiers were injected with it.
“Have you noticed any side effects since being given the vaccine?” She asked, and that was another concern. They didn’t know what if any adverse effects the vaccine would have, especially not the prolonged use of it.
“No. But then…I haven’t exactly been in the most healthiest of conditions.” Lotor stated wryly, and she glanced at him, noting his broken arm. The pain medication he had been given, could count for much of any side effects Lotor might have experienced this past week and a half.
“I guess we’ll just have to take the good with the bad.” Allura sighed, hoping there wouldn’t be any complications from using the vaccine. “Lance still hasn’t returned to Arus.” She said, and didn’t look away fast enough to see the uncaring look in Lotor’s eyes. “He’s still searching for wherever Keith jumped to.”
“Do you honestly think the captain is even alive at this point?” Lotor asked, and she jumped to her feet, whirling around to face him.
“Of course I do!” Allura snapped, eyes flashing. “Why would you even say such a thing?”
“Then why hasn’t there been any contact from him?” Lotor asked, hardly phased by her display of anger. ‘He hasn’t tried one time to contact the castle.”
He was voicing fears she had already had, Allura refusing to let her uncertainty show. “There could be a number of reasons why we haven’t heard from him…”
“And one of those reasons could be that he’s dead.” Lotor retorted.
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Allura demanded, and Lotor smiled then.
“Of course I wouldn’t wish him dead.” That had Allura blinking in confusion, Lotor inching closer to her. “Not at least until after I’ve had the chance to rub his nose in our marriage.”
“You…” She glared at him then, almost speechless with shock. “You will do nothing of the kind!”
“Allura, even if I say or do nothing about it, it will still upset the captain.” He pointed out. “He’ll hate that he wasn’t able to save you from me, that he wasn’t able to prevent this marriage. Why, he might even hate you after a while.”
“Me?” Allura was shocked at the thought of Keith hating her.
“Yes.” There was a sense of gloating about him, Lotor smirking. “Because every time he looks at you, he won’t be able to keep from thinking about me, about us, and the things we do to each other when alone.”
“You’ll be lucky if I ever let you touch me again!” Allura threatened in response.
“Oh you’ll let me.” Lotor said confidently. “I’ve been lenient on you these past two days, allowing you to keep separate quarters from me. But Allura, that can’t last. A husband and wife shouldn”t be separate from each other.”
“Allowing me?” She stared at him as though he had gone mad. Perhaps he was insane, even just a little bit. “You don’t allow me anything! If I want to sleep separate from you, I can and I will!”
“And how will that look to my father?” Lotor asked, and she almost shouted out her response.
“I don’t give a damn what your father thinks!”
“But you should!” hissed Lotor. “He’ll think you’re not upholding your part of this marriage, that you’re making a mockery of the alliance. And trust me Allura, when I say you don’t want him to decide the treaty is at an end. Especially over the small sacrifice that is sharing a bed with your husband.”
She really didn’t know what to say to that, Allura starting to shake with her anger. “I should have never agreed to go to Doom with you!”
“Maybe not.” Agreed Lotor. “But you’re here now, and there’s no going back.”
“Is this what it’s always going to be like Lotor?” Allura asked. “Our marriage nothing but manipulations to get me to do what you want?”
“Truthfully I don’t know.” He admitted, actually sighing then. “I don’t want to have to force you…” She scoffed at that, but he didn’t pause. “I’d have you come willingly
to me, each and every night. But you’ve made it clear that right now that isn’t going to happen.”
“If you want my…compliance…”
“Your compliance I already have.” Lotor interrupted her. “It’s your love and devotion that continues to elude me.”
“You won’t get them. Especially with the way you continue to act!” Allura retorted, hands on her hips. Both she and Lotor narrowed their eyes at one another, the air seeming to crackle around them in tension.
“I’m not like other men…” Lotor began, and Allura let out a bitter laugh.
“That much is obvious!”
“I don’t act like them or say the things they say, don’t act otherwise just to keep a woman in her comfort zone.” Lotor continued. “I go after what I want, ruthless and determined. I neither want, nor am content to take no for an answer. And if I want something, I get it, and Allura, that will include you!”
“You’ve gotten as far as you can with me!” Allura snapped. “You can’t have my heart, you can’t force my love. The only thing this single minded pursuit inspires is my disgust! You…”
A crackle of sound interrupted her, a corner of the window turning into a view screen. She turned to glance that way, seeing the apologetic face of one of the crew that maintain the ship’s many functions, including it’s flight capability.
“Princess…” said the woman, and Allura actually growled at her, her anger at Lotor still clinging to her strongly.
The woman seemed to flinch, taken aback by her princess’ hostility. “We are estimating to withdraw from hyper drive in the next five minutes.”
“Wonderful.” Lotor said, but even his voice sounded angry.
“Thank you for letting me know.” Allura said, feeling a glumness settle into her. The woman on the view screen seemed to hesitate, Allura sensing she had more to
say. “Yes? What is it?”
“We’ve been trying to get in contact with planet Doom for the past twenty minutes.” The woman said. “There’s been….no answer.”
“What?” A glance Lotor’s way showed the prince frowning. Allura was also frowning, knowing that it was dangerous to approach Doom without contacting them and stating your intentions towards the planet.
“It’s standard practice for Doom to answer any and all hailings.” Lotor was muttering. “Even if it’s just to demand the ships’ surrender.”
“Could something have happened?” Allura wondered out loud.
“Something had to have.” Lotor replied, and worry flashed in his eyes. And then he was rattling off his father’s private number. “Put the call through. My father will surely answer.”
“Yes, your highness.” The woman said, and was replaced by a blank screen. Lotor and Allura continued to stare, the prince bristling with agitation as the call continued to go unanswered.
“Damn…” Lotor swore. “He never lets a call to this number go unanswered. Allura, I have a bad feeling about this…”
“So do I.” She admitted, watching the lights of hyper drive start to flicker and fade. They were slowly drawing out of it, the ships leaving warp space to return to normal speeds. The space they were exiting into should have been empty, but suddenly the ships veered to the left, Allura and Lotor falling over, his crutch clattering against the floor.
Allura had time to look before she fell, having seen what looked to be a large Doom war cruiser floating too close to where the Arusians ships had exited. And then she was down on the floor, shoving at Lotor, who had landed on top of her. He moved, but they remained a tangle of legs, Allura glancing up and gasping.
The space around them was a graveyard, hundreds, maybe thousands of broken ships floating around the planet Doom. Large, behemoth sized monstrosities were torn apart in places, and she could see bodies floating out of their forced openings. The bodies were all Drule in coloring, and some floated past the windows of the viewing deck, allowing Allura to see the fear stricken expressions the soldiers had died wearing.
There was plenty of large ships, those used for defense, those that carried the smaller fighter craft, and the large vessels that were armed with heavy artillery. And all just hung there, propelled forward not by their engines, but by the pull of space. Some ships weren’t broken in half, but had their metal blackened from the many explosions that they had been bombarded with.
“No…” Lotor had gotten his fill of looking, a stunned expression on his face. His mouth opened and closed, but he said nothing more, his good hand forming a fist. He was currently looking at the bodies that had floated too close to the Arusian ships, and one bumped into the window before bouncing off into the opposite direction. A smear of blood was left on the window, Allura fighting back her urge to be ill at this senseless display of brutality.
“NO!” Lotor shouted, and was struggling, trying to get up on his own. His hand reached for the bench, trying to pull himself up when Allura remembered to move. Shock still filled her, but she had enough sense to try and help Lotor to his feet, the prince hopping away from her once he was upright. She fetched the crutch, but he was already doing that awkward hop limp towards the railing, apparently wanting a close look at the carnage.
Alarms were ringing through out the Arusian ship, and she could see the escorts were launching fighter jets. That frightened her, Allura wondering if those responsible for this slaughter was still out there. Their ship and it’s escorts had slowed to a crawl, maneuvering careful over the debris of the destroyed Doom armadas. Bodies continued to float pass, and some weren’t as whole as the one who had bounced into the window.
Allura felt ill to see the severed limbs, and ripped open torsos that floated past, some of them having their intestines dangling in a gruesome display. She found herself gripping Lotor’s crutch to her chest, as though it could shield her from what had happened. It could not, Allura watching as the lights of the ships passed over the side of a largely intact carrier.
There was a symbol scorched into the metal, the blackened emblem unmistakable. “The Keraclon.” Allura whispered as Lotor clenched his jaw, and gripped the railing even harder. There seemed to be nothing more that could be said, the word hanging in the air, making all who heard it, shiver in fear.