Enemy 24

As both princess of planet Arus, and one of the five pilots of the Voltron Lions, Allura had often spent nights away from her castle. She had slept in all manners of places, from the most luxurious of bedrooms to the hard floor of caves. Even on occasion, she had spent an uncomfortable night sleeping inside her own lion. It meant she was used to waking up in different places. And thus she had none of that disorientation upon discovery that she was not in her familiar bedroom. What did however, cause her some concern was the fact that she wasn’t in the bed that sat situated across from her.

Instead she found herself huddled uncomfortably on one of the room’s two overstuffed arm chairs. Her knees were bent, legs drawn up beneath her. Her head had been resting at a crooked angle, and she clutched a thin blanket over her. She felt aches and pains from staying in such a position for so long, hearing things softly pop as she tried to unstretch.

As she moved, the night events began to trickle back into mind. The memories were aided by the sight of a sleeping Prince Lotor, the Drule looking equally uncomfortable in his chair. They had both retired to their separate cabins after a quick trip to the ship’s infirmary. The onboard doctor had tsked at the sight of Lotor’s fingers, and might have even taken a perverse pleasure in pouring the cleansing alcohol over the cuts. Lotor had managed to control himself, save for a hiss of pain and seemed to tolerate the doctor’s lecture.

The prince had indeed broken off several claws, and the remaining two were so splintered the doctor had insisted on trimming them down. The skin around his nails had been rubbed raw, fragile enough to tear open from Lotor’s repeated movements. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the injury of a broken bone although, Lotor’s fingers were now covered in bandages. They would have to be cleansed and slathered with ointment several times a day to prevent infection from taking root.

After forcing a promise from Lotor that he would behave for the remainder of the night, Allura had parted ways. She had been intent on getting some much needed sleep, but once in bed found she could not settle down. There was simply too much on her mind, between her husband’s antics, the Keraclon, and the discoveries the scientists had shared with her.

It also became apparent Lotor could not sleep either. She could hear him moving about the cabin, the thumps at first soft, barely audible. They began to get louder, and louder and then spilled out into the hallway. By the time she got out of bed, and pulled on a robe, the sound had abruptly stopped. That had worried Allura more than anything, and she hurried out into the hall.

It would be empty. And so would Lotor’s room. Empty and disheveled, furniture knocked over, bedding torn apart. It seemed Lotor had done more than just pacing, the prince turning destructive when he could not sleep. Worried, Allura had begun walking the corridors of the ship, searching the halls for any sign of Lotor. She’d eventually find him several corridors over, the prince panting and standing in front of one of the walls that doubled as a window.

He had been shirtless, only a thin pair of cotton pants clinging to him tightly. They were ill fitting like all of his borrowed clothes, and Allura realized they would have to put in an order from one of the Empire’s holdings in order to get clothing that would fit a Drule.

She tried not to stare at his body, but couldn’t help but notice he was wet. But it was not sweat, but the flood of a shower that had dampened him so. The ship might
have been warm, but going around soaked from an icy shower was not the best course of action. “You’ll catch a cold that way.” She had said, but her voice did not startle him. Lotor had continued to stand staring out the window, letting the lights of hyperspace wash over his front. “Lotor…” Allura had been unsure of what to say, drawing up besides him. That close she could see the way his flesh rippled with goose bumps, a proof of his chill.

“Go back to bed Allura.” Lotor had ordered softly.

“I could say the same to you.” Allura had retorted. “It’s late. You need some sleep. We both do.”

“Can’t sleep.” He had answered, with a stubborn lift of his chin. “Won’t…”

“Why?” But she had had a good idea of why, Allura figuring he was as tormented asleep as he was awake.

“The….the nightmares come then.” She had thought he wasn’t going to answer, but after several minutes he had. If he had noticed she wasn’t surprised, he hadn’t chosen to comment on that. He’d follow up that revelation with a hoarse bitter laugh. “The nightmares come even when I’m awake. But at least then I can divert them.”

“Is that why you trashed your room?” She had asked. “To distract yourself from the nightmares…” He had allowed himself a small nod, Allura sighing softly in response. “Oh Lotor…”

“I don’t want to think….don’t want to remember or feel…” Lotor had admitted. “Not about that….”

“You’ll have to sooner or later.” She had pointed out. “Eventually you’ll need to work through what has happened….to come to grips with it. Only then will you be able to move on…”

“Why can’t I move on already?” He had asked.

“You know why you can’t.” Allura had said. “It doesn’t work that way….and you need time to grieve…You lost a lot…friends, family, a whole planet of people. You survived a tragedy…by a cruel twist of fate, you could have been wiped out with the rest of Doom…”

Thankfully he hadn’t been so far gone as to wish he had died with the rest of the Drules. Instead his lips had merely flattened into a thin line, Lotor turning stone faced with his anger. “I think about it you know…” He had finally said. “About the what ifs…”

“Lotor…don’t…”

“Let me finish.” He had snapped. “It could have been us that died…if we had arrived on Doom just a day earlier…without the vaccine…we all would have died too…”

“But we didn’t.” She had pointed out. “And that’s what we should focus on…” He had gone quiet at that, returning his attention to the window. It wasn’t much of a view, the speed they were traveling at made everything blur around them. She had begun to tell him about the scientists’ discovery, about the vaccine that was similar and yet so different from the one running through Lotor’s veins. He had frowned at that.

“I suppose this means they will want to draw more blood from me, come tomorrow.”

“Probably.” She had nodded.

“It’s strange….I’ve been the scourge of the galaxy for so long…It’s hard to believe that now I am it’s hope….”

“You’re more than just it’s hope. You hold the potential to be it’s salvation.” Allura had reminded him.

Lotor had surprised her when he didn’t try to play up that aspect of his role more. “No…it will be the Drule scientists that made the discovery….and the soldiers who actually fight against the Keraclon who are the real saviors. I’m just a vessel….one that can’t even fight in my current condition.”

“You still have your part to play. It’s no little thing you’ve done…”

“What have I done?!” Lotor had demanded harshly. “All I had to do was be injected with the vaccine. All I’ve done is stay alive since…” She had tried to say something then, but he had talked over her. “I’m no hero…”

She hadn’t known what to say to that. “Go to bed Lotor.” Was what she had settled on. He had stubbornly shook his head no, stiffening when she touched his arm. She knew Drules could last longer without sleep than a human, but eventually even they would collapse.

“You once asked me what I could have possibly seen if under the effects of the Keraclon’s fear waves.” It had been a sudden thing to say, Allura’s eyes going wide. “And truthfully I wouldn’t have been able to answer. And not just because I had never experienced the fear that they cause in others. I just couldn’t imagine anything that bad, that frightening…”

“And now?”

“Now I know what true horror is.” His voice had been hoarse, his eyes bleak. “I’m living a far worse nightmare than anything the Keraclon could have showed me.” He had suddenly snorted, but it was without humor to it. “It’s a nightmare I won’t escape, even if we kill off every last one of those alien bastards!”

“It may seem that way now…” Allura had allowed. “But I promise you Lotor…it will get better…”

“How?!” He had demanded harshly. “How can you make such a promise. How can you know that?!”

“Because you’re still alive.” She had said simply. “And you have things to live for…people depending on you…we will rid the galaxy of the Keraclon’s threat. Revenge is not a thing to live for, but what happens after the galaxy is no longer in danger is. So….think on that when the nightmares gets to be too much for you…think on what you still have, what you have to do and who you still live for…”

He had turned to her then, expression serious as he looked at her. “Can I live for you then?”

The question had made her uncomfortable, Allura shifting from foot to foot. “Would it help?” He had nodded, so earnest in the moment. It had made her agree, though it was against her better judgment. “All right then. But no more of this foolishness.” She had taken hold of his bandaged hand, touching gently his fingers. “No more hurting yourself…or others. If you want to be part of my life, you have to know I won’t tolerate such violence….”

He was nodding, willing to agree to anything just then. “Now…I think it’s time we go back to bed. And you need to dry off.” He followed all too willing as she led him back to their cabins. But when she tried to leave him at his room’s door, he had stopped her, a near forlorn expression on his face.

“WIll….will you stay with me?” Lotor had asked. She had hesitated, which had made him speak quickly. “Just until I fall asleep…?” He had looked so desperate then, she had found herself agreeing. But it wasn’t that simple, it never was with Lotor. He had still been so agitated, unable to sleep. He had kept pacing about the room, and even at one point tried to fix the mess that was the bed. But mostly he had talked to her, telling her memories of Doom and of friends he had lost.

Before Allura had known what was happening, she had relaxed into a state of sleep. Lotor had still been up, walking circles about the room. He had had an agitated energy about him, one that wouldn’t let him settle down. But eventually he must have, for she found him now, asleep and snoring lightly in the chair next to hers. His crutch had fallen to the floor, and she reached for it now. It had flecks of dried blood on it from when Lotor had injured his nails and fingertips. She touched those spots now, reflecting on the memories he had shared of Doom. He had had some good times, though she knew he had chosen to tell her things she would not be able to object to. She had also noticed he hadn’t spoken much about his father, but that hadn’t surprised her. Allura didn’t think a man like King Zarkon would have inspired many good memories for anyone, and that included his son.

Leaving the crutch in reach of Lotor, she got up. The room was still in shambles, and for all the attempts Lotor had made to fix the bed, his actions had been limited due to his use of only one hand. Allura began to move about the room, quiet as a mouse. She didn’t want to wake Lotor, knowing he had finally gotten his hard earned sleep. She’d let him stay that way for as long as he needed, Allura glad to see he didn’t appear to be suffering any dreams at the moment.

She began to try to fix what she could of the room. Cushions were picked up off the floor, a table righted. She noticed he had even gone so far as to smash the drinks laid out on the bar shelf. The carpet was soaked with the spilt remains, the different liquors making a strong, pungent smell. Her nose wrinkled in protest, Allura wondering if the carpet would have to be replaced.

A knock sounded on the door, and she quickly lunged towards it. A glance was cast Lotor’s way, but he didn’t seem to have stirred. She was relieved, opening the door. One of the ship’s servants was on the other side, peering curiously past her into the room. He then looked over Allura in her flimsy robe, making her blush as she realized what it looked like. With the bed so in disarray, and Allura and Lotor barely dressed, the man surely thought they had had one wild night of sex.

Fighting embarrassment, she stepped out into the hall. The cabin’s door closed behind her. She looked expectantly at the servant. “You weren’t in your room…” He began, and she impatiently waved him off.

“What is it? What’s happening?” Allura demanded.

“There’s an urgent message from planet Arus.” He told her. “Coran needs to speak to you at once.”

“Tell him I will be there as soon as possible.” Allura told him, and got an agreeing nod. She headed towards her own cabin, intent on getting dressed before meeting with her advisor. The servant ran off, but not before casting another look at Lotor’s room. Allura stifled a groan, sure that soon enough it would be all that everyone onboard the ship could talk about. Her supposed wild night with Prince Lotor.

But she’d worry about that later, hurriedly getting dressed. It was one of her simpler outfits, Allura wanting to waste no time with tracking down a maid to assist in her dressing. Once dressed, she found the remote to her room’s private view screen. A few buttons pressed, and a short talk with a communication room’s crew member, and soon Coran was on the screen before her.

“Coran…” Allura thought she knew why he was calling her. “I take it Doctor Chestarah has told you about the scientists’ discovery?”

Coran did a slow blinking of his eyes, It appeared he hadn’t heard, and that concerned Allura. “I’ve not had a chance to meet with Chestarah and his colleagues yet. We’ve had more pressing concerns to deal with.”

“More pressing?” She echoed, and frowned. “Coran, what is it? What’s going on?” Her fingers tightened on the remote, a betrayal of her new worries. “Is it Keith? Lance has found Keith, hasn’t he?”

“I wish that were the case…but no. I’m afraid it’s far worse than that.”

“Oh God…” Allura gasped, sure she was going pale with fright. “It’s the Keraclon then, isn’t it? They’ve attacked another world?”

“Not that we know of. However…” Coran’s own face was pale, his eyes fearful. “The sensors the Alliance has in place at key points throughout the galaxy have picked up a large armada of ships…..They appear to be heading towards Arus at a rapid pace…”

“Towards Arus…” Allura repeated, dull with worry.

“They have not answered any hailings. And the ships the Alliance sent to investigate the armada have not returned. Nor do they answer any attempts at communication. We fear the worse….” She was nodding her head in agreement, sick to her stomach with fear. “If it’s the Keraclon, we’ve run out of time your highness…”

“How did they figure out Lotor was on Arus after all this time…” She whispered.

“I cannot say for sure, though we do have a theory.” Coran answered. “During the destruction of Zegabob, they went through the hospital’s records before decimating the planet. We think they might have done the same at the castle on planet Doom. If so, they would have seen in the records the transmission Lotor made to his father to announce the engagement…It wouldn’t have taken much sleuthing for them to deduct the prince was on Arus…”

She processed this, but was too horrified at the thought of the Keraclon coming to Arus to properly respond. Coran sighed, and continued to speak. “I am advising that you do not return to Arus…” That got Allura to snap out of some of her shock and horror.

“WHAT!?”

“It’s too late for us…but may not be for you. Allura, you must save yourself…” She was shaking her head no, protesting softly how she couldn’t. “I don’t just ask out of the selfish reason to see you live. Prince Lotor carries the vaccine inside him…He has to live….live long enough for the Alliance to replicate the Drules’ vaccine. His blood is the only hope of the galaxy…the only chance we have to fight the Keraclon on even grounds….”

“We have a vaccine.” Allura whispered, than laughed. “We have a vaccine!” She repeated louder, wondering if she was growing hysterical. “It’s not a perfect copy, and it’s untested. We don’t even know if it will work against the Keraclon, or what effects it will have on humans but….”

“Princess Allura?”

“Doctor Chestarah can give you the details…or one of his assistants can.” Continued Allura. “Try not to bother them too much with questions….not at this time…” She had to pause to let out a shuddery breath. “I want you to explain the risks involved with this untried vaccine to our soldiers. Let them all know the potential dangers. It has to be their decision…”

“Decison to do what!?” But Coran looked like he already knew.

“I’m going to use the vaccine we do have.” Allura told him. He began to make protesting noises. “Coran, it’s the only thing we have left! I will not abandon you and my people to the Keraclon’s genocide.”

“Your highness….that is an admirable decision, but…”

“But nothing!” Allura snapped. “Evacuate as many civilians as you can. Just on the off chance we cannot fight off the Keraclon. And have the scientists and soldiers prepared for the vaccine’s use….I will have the same done here. We will come to lend our aid to you….regardless of the uncertain outcome…”

He was frowning. “I’m not sure this is something your father would have approved of…”

“I’m not the same ruler that my father was.” She told him. “I have to do things my way…and letting Arus be destroyed is something I can’t abide by. I’ve seen with
my own eyes what the Keraclon do to other worlds… if there’s any chance to prevent that from happening to Arus, I will use any means available to me. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to abide by it.”

“Yes, your highness.” Coran was stiff with displeasure. He thought she was making the wrong decision, and a part of Allura worried he was right. But as frightening as the Keraclon were, Allura could not run from them. Not when it came to protecting the world and the people she loved with all her heart. She ended the transmission, but immediately had a call transferred to the scientists’ laboratory. There was no time to stop and process her feelings, not right now. She could break down later, if they all survived this, but for now she had to get ready for her crew to receive the vaccine.


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