It was with blurred vision that Allura watched as Cossack took another unsteady step into the room. The commander wasn’t looking at her, but at the sword sticking into his chest, his face showing his shock. His lips parted, and red stained the blue skin, blood dribbling out of his open mouth. And still he managed to speak, voice sounding distorted with pain.
She was already leaping to her feet, a shrill scream for help issuing out of her, as Cossack dropped down to his knees. She could see him clutching at the handle of the sword embedded in his chest, his hands stained with his blood. His skin was too slick with it to get a proper grip on the hilt of the sword, Cossack making futile attempts to pull it free of his body.
She watched in horrified fascination, Cossack’s attempts to remove the sword, Allura barely registering that someone else stood in the doorway. She could hear screaming, and realized it was her voice that was making that noise, a shrill shriek of distress. The stranger in the doorway moved, his travels taking him into the room, and past Cossack, blocking Allura’s sight of the commander.
She stared at his back, noticing the hint of tattoo that started down the base of his shaved skull, and disappeared into the collar of his shirt. Over his shirt was a leather scabbard, empty for the moment of it’s sword. The stranger made no move to retrieve his sword from Cossack, merely stood over him, sneering down at the commander. Allura tensed up, seeming to sense what would happen next an instant before the man was lashing out with his foot.
The kick caught Cossack square in the jaw, the commander falling backwards onto the floor. She screamed again, and before Allura could stop herself she was lunging towards the stranger, her hands curled into fists. She had little idea of what she was doing, Allura reacting on pure instinct as she moved to come to Cossack’s aid.
Her fists pounded on the stranger’s back, distracting the man from Cossack, the Drule turning, Allura catching sight of the greenish scales around his eyes. Those eyes were cold and without mercy, looking disdainfully at her as she continued to hit at him with her fists. Not even seeing him narrow his eyes into a glare calmed her, Allura raising her hand high and bringing it down to thump him in the face.
With a snarl, the stranger seized hold of her wrist, preventing Allura from connecting her fist with his nose. His thick fingers squeeze her fragile wrist, the pain making her wild shrieks end in a strangled gasp.
“That’s better.” The Drule said, cold approval in his eyes at her silence. Allura tried to glare at him, but the pain lessened the fierceness of her expression. “You’re coming with me…”
“What? Why?!” She gasped out her questions, struggling to get her arm free. No answer from the Drule, the man beginning to jerk her after him towards the door. “Wait…please wait..” Allura was fighting him, pulling back on her arm. It did little to slow the man down, and with a scream, she slapped her free hand against his bald head.
That succeeded in annoying the man, the Drule turning to glare at her. “Please….he needs a doctor!” She gestured tearfully at Cossack, who was laying still on the floor.
“You should worry about yourself slave.” Hissed the man, not even looking towards Cossack. A smile twisted his lips, the man taking cruel pleasure in what he was telling her. “You’ve led a pampered lifestyle these last few months…it pays handsomely to be the prince’s favorite whore.”
She flinched at his words, cheeks coloring with anger. “Please…” Allura repeated, giving a desperate yank on her wrist. “At least call a doctor….someone, anyone!”
“No.” A curt answer, the man smirking. Allura screamed, unable to stop herself as she brought her free hand up, raking her nails down one side of the Drule’s face. Her nails found little purchase on his scaled skin, but it enraged him all the same, the man letting go of her wrist to back hand her across the face. With a whimper, Allura dropped to the floor, stunned and seeing spots in her vision.
“Get up.” Snarled the Drule, Allura kneeling on the floor, her hands touching her face. She knew from his blow she’d bruise, and already she could feel how her face throbbed in pain. She didn’t mean to ignore him, but she was in shock, stunned that someone, anyone would dare strike her.
“I said get up!” The Drule all but screamed, hand lunging towards her, and grabbing a fistful of her hair. He gave a cruel jerk, her head pulling back to stare up at him. She couldn’t even muster up her hate in that moment, still too shocked by all that was happening.
Another whimper from Allura, the man forcibly lifting her up from her knees, his hand almost ripping out her hair in the process. She made pitiful sounds, trying to keep back her tears, her whole body conveying her reluctance to leave with this man. She wondered where the guards who patrolled the hallway were, knowing if they could, they would have come in response to her screams.
“Let’s go.” He was still holding onto the back of her hair, forcing Allura to go up on tip toe as he forced her closer to him. Her head was held at an angle that kept her looking more at the ceiling than his face, Allura breathing heavily with fear.
“Who sent you?” Allura asked, hoping to delay leaving this room and Cossack behind.
“Can’t you guess?” demanded the Drule with a snide laugh.
“Zarkon!” She gasped, and he shook her.
“That’s KING Zarkon to you slave!” He smirked. “And his royal highness has plans for you. You and those ill begotten spawn you carry.”
“They’re not yours.” He hissed. “A slave can own nothing, least of all another person. They’ll be property of the Empire, to be used as the King sees fit.”
“Never!” Allura said, and kicked out with her leg, her knee planted into the Drule’s groin. He let out a sound, a not quite cry of pain, and let go of her, Allura nearly tripping over Cossack as she turned to run. The Drule was still in the doorway, blocking her only escape, so Allura rushed towards the bedroom, her intent to barricade herself inside that room.
As she ran, she heard footsteps behind her, the man charging after her. “Oh no you don’t!” He snarled, and grabbed her right arm, jerking her so hard she lost her footing. She windmilled her free arm, trying to grab onto something to keep her from falling completely, but he swept out his leg, tipping her over that final step.
With a cry, she hit the floor, then quickly scrambled onto her hands and knees. Allura got maybe an inch forward, and then she felt his foot on her back, pressing down to keep her in place.
“I was told you were far more obedient than this, slave!” His foot pushed down cruelly, Allura trying to crawl out from beneath it. “Or is it only for the prince that you are docile?” She heard the Drule tsk, the man dropping down to kneel besides her. “No matter. Since you won’t come quietly, it’s time we do this another way.” His knee was pressing into her spine, and Allura heard the rustle of clothing, the man searching for something.
“Stop…” Allura cried out, bucking her body as best she could to knock the man off her. She went still when he dangled a rope before her face, Allura’s eyes widening in realization. He was going to tie her up, present her to Zarkon like a trussed pig. “NO!!” Her movements became more frantic, Allura struggling and wishing she was more advanced in her magic beyond forming a protective barrier.
“Hold still!” snapped the man, reaching for her right arm. She fought and screamed, feeling him twist her arm behind her back, the coils of the rope looping around it. Putting pressure on her arm to keep her from brining it forward, the Drule reached for her left arm, Allura doing her best to evade his grasp. She twisted about, smacking her hand against his chest, but he merely grunted and grabbed at it.
“No!” She repeated, feeling a kind of panicked hopelessness as he began forcing her arm behind her back. Self satisfied chuckles drifted to her, the man pleased with what he was doing. Allura bit back a sob, letting her head fall to the carpet, her body going slack and unresisting.
“This is too easy!” gloated the Drule, and she felt the rope brush against her skin. And then, nothing, the man dropping his hold on her arm, Allura wondering at what was going on. She cautiously turned her head to peer over her shoulder and gasped, seeing a saber sticking out of the man’s gut. Blood coated the sides, starting to merge on the ends, where a thick drop dangled, hesitating before it would fall free and land on her.
“Allura is not a whore.” A pain filled voice said, Cossack panting heavily. The green scaled Drule barely reacted to his voice, hands scrambling to touch the blade sticking out of him. She saw it jerk upwards, Cossack using his fading strength to twist the blade higher inside the man. The drops of blood fell, staining Allura’s dress, the girl watching wide eyed as Cossack shoved the man off her.
“Cossack!” She had a good view of the commander now, seeing how drenched with blood his uniform was, the sword still impaled into his chest. Even for a Drule, his color looked strange, the blue lightening in hue as the man continued to pant and wheeze. Hs eyes were wide with pain, the yellow consuming the black slits so that they remained tiny pinpoints. She wondered how he could see with his eyes like that, Cossack grimacing as he eased back from her.
“No don’t!” Allura scrambled up right, crawling towards him. “Don’t try to move!” Her own eyes were huge, the girl wondering how he had managed to move with the severity of his injury.
Wracked with pain though he was, Cossack managed a smile for her, an instant before he toppled backwards from his kneeling position. She was instantly by his side, hands reaching for him, Allura mindful of the sword and his wound. “Oh Cossack…”
“It’s fine…” Cossak whispered, gazing up at her as she hovered over him. “You’re safe now, that’s all that matters.”
“No it’s not…” She insisted, shaking her head no. “You’re hurt….”
“Not the first time…” He coughed, blood coming up with that sound. Allura was instantly dabbing at his face with the sleeve of her dress, trying to clean him up. “I’d do it again if it meant saving you…”
It was too sad, to awful to contemplate someone taking such a serious injury for her sake. She could feel the tears forming, Allura staring down at Cossack sadly. “Hey…” He said, touching the back of her hand, holding it in place against his cheek. “Don’t look so sad…I couldn’t stand it if you started to cry…” And still the tears came, a big fat tear rolling down her cheek.
“I’m sorry…” She sniffled, and Cossack looked confused.
“For…for everything…it’s my fault you got hurt…It’s my fault…you were here instead of with Lotor…” Allura said, and Cossack sighed, the sound gurgling out of him.
“The prince was right to keep me here. You needed someone to protect you…”
“It was supposed to be the easy job.” Allura said, voice on the verge of sobbing. “The uneventful part of the night….” She didn’t waste her glare on the Drule who had attacked them, too focused on Cossack.
“Things don’t always go as planned…” Cossack said, and even he sounded sad then.
“We have to get you to a doctor…” Allura decided, wondering how she was going to lift Cossack off the floor. “Can you walk?”
“Let’s just wait a little while longer…” suggested Cossack, and Allura shook her head, shocked at his suggestion.
“Cossack no! This is a serious injury! You need medical attention!”
“I can wait just a little longer. It wont make much of a difference.” He sounded so sure, so certain, Allura gaping at him.
“It can make all the difference in the world.” She pulled her hand away from his unresisting grip, having spied the communicator on his belt. She reached for it now, Allura’s fingers fumbling to free it from the leather. “I’ll call for help…I’ll call Lotor…!”
“Allura, don’t…” Cossack said, and his hand was reaching for the com unit, snatching it out of her hands. “It’s too risky.”
“Risky?!” She demanded with a snarl. “You’re life is on the line!”
“But so is the prince’s, and yours.” Cossack pointed out. “Right now he is fighting for the throne, fighting to be king. He fights for the future, for YOUR future happiness. We’d only be a distraction at a pivotal moment…”
“But…” Allura hesitated, wringing her fingers together.
“It’s more than just Lotor who is at risk.” Cossack continued. “Whoever that bastard was, he’s likely to have accomplices. They’ll be monitoring the airwaves…” Another cough, a fresh burst of blood escaping him. “If they hear you call for help, they’ll know he failed. They’ll come for us, and this time…this time I won’t be able to protect you.”
“We’ll barricade the door…” Allura decided, already casting about for furniture to place against the door. “We’ll make our last stand here until Lotor can come and save us. I’ll tend to your wound as best I can. I’ll stop the bleeding if I can…”
“It’s no use…”
“I have to try!” Allura all but screamed, starting to rise up. Cossack’s hand lashed out, his fingers tightening around her wrist. “Don’t stop me Cossack!” Allura protested, even as he jerked her back down towards him. He pulled too hard, she was knocked off balance, Allura placing her hands on his shoulders to catch herself mid fall. That left her face hovering mere inches from Cossack’s, the Drule finally looking as though he truly saw her.
“You’re so pretty Allura..” Cossack whispered. “Always thought that. Always thought…”
“What?” She asked softly, Cossack’s hand reaching up to touch her cheek. His fingers left bloody imprints on her skin, the commander stroking her cheek gently. A heavy sigh escaped him, more blood coming out of his mouth.
“Just let me….one time…” His voice was getting lower, softer than a whisper.
“I can’t hear you..” Allura cried out, watching his lips part.
She did as he asked, wanting to catch all his words, and was shocked when his hand landed on the back of her head. It was different from the attacker’s grasp, Cossack gentle as he pulled her down for a kiss, his wet lips gentle as they puckered against hers. Allura trembled, shocked at the gesture, her tears stopping for the moment as she stared at Cossack. He kissed her for longer than a few seconds, and then his hand was dropping away, the man sighing in satisfaction.
“Always wanted to do that…” He confessed, managing a weak looking smile. “Knew the boss would kill me if I tried though.” A weak laugh, blood spurting up in the process. “Now he don’t have too.”
She took in the meaning of his words, Allura shaking her head no again and again. “You’re not going to die Cossack!” Allura protested, and Cossack sighed.
“It’s all right Allura. Don’t lie to yourself. I’ve come to terms with it…I’ve accepted that it’s my time…”
“No…” She protested. “It’s not…”
“It is.” His tone was firm, Cossack brooking no argument from her. “I just wish….wish I could have seen your children. Been there to see you and the prince happy.” A serious look from him, Cossack reaching for her hand once more. She gave it to him, feeling him squeeze it. “Allura….don’t turn your back on happiness…don’t turn away from the prince. He loves you….he wants to make you happy. Let him…”
Allura didn’t know what to say, not wanting to risk Cossack getting upset in his weakened condition. A part of her knew that he was dying, but the rest of her fought against accepting that. She couldn’t believe that this bright and funny man was dying, that she was watching the light fade in his eyes, as his life’s blood ebbed away.
“Cossack…I…” She heard the sounds of footsteps, several pairs of feet running in the hall. She stiffened, tension working it’s way through her as she feared the worse, and the way Cossack’s eyes narrowed, she knew he suspected it too.
“Take my blaster…” Cossack said, guiding her hand to the pistol on his belt. “Arm yourself…” Allura’s hand shook, the girl never having had to fire a weapon before. She didn’t even know if she could pull the trigger, let alone take proper aim to hit someone. And yet Allura found herself removing the blaster from Cossack’s belt, the girl being careful not to drop the weapon.
A woman burst into the room, looking lovely but menacing. She took one look at Allura with the blaster, and held up her hands in surrender, her whole body language reading cautious. “I’m here to help!”
Allura didn’t know whether to believe her, just staring at her with wet eyes. Another man poked his head into the room, Allura startled by how big he was. The reddish purple Drule was surely taller than Lotor, and he towered over the female. He said nothing to Allura, just began cursing in Drule at the sight of all the blood.
“Get out!” Allura said, having decided not to trust them. Behind her Cossack gave in to a coughing fit, the wet sound of his lungs making her hands shake even more. “Leave!” She fired off a shaky blast, the laser just missing the third person to arrive. Allura gasped when she saw him, blaster falling free of her hand. “Lotor!”
He was leaning on the side of the door’s frame, peering into the room, a look of concern on his face. His eyes immediately sought her out, and she saw the look of relief that came into Lotor’s eyes. A sharp word from him had the two Drules that preceded him into the room hurry over to the attacker, the female checking his pulse.
“Good.” Wheezed a satisfied Cossack.
“Cossack..” Lotor finally noticed his friend’s injured state, the prince taking an unsteady step into the room. Allura gasped to see him limping, noting the numerous cuts in his clothing, and the way they were damp with his blood.
“Lotor…” She looked back and forth between Cossack and Lotor, and the next thing she knew, she was on her feet, rushing to help Lotor walk. He seemed grateful for her assistance, and together they made their way to Cossack’s side.
“What happened here?” Lotor demanded, and Cossack just gave a shake of his head no.
“Long story…” Cossack fixed his eyes on Lotor, eyeing him up and down. “Well?” He demanded gruffly, arching an eyebrow. “Did you do it? Am I looking at KING Lotor now?”
She saw Lotor blink, the man surprised at Cossack’s words. “Yes.” He said, but there was no joyous grin to follow his words. “Zarkon is no more.”
“I’m glad.” Cossack sighed, and closed his eyes. “The crown suits you Lotor. Wear it well.”
“I will…” Lotor promised, staring at the sword sticking out of Cossack’s chest. Cossack seemed to sense where Lotor’s eyes were, for the commander gave a brave smile.
“It’s all right. It doesn’t hurt any more….” Cossack’s eyes fluttered open, the commander looking at Allura once more. “Allura…remember…”
“Remember what?” Lotor asked, but to that he received no answer, Cossack suddenly freezing in place. His hands fell limp at his sides, and his body slumped downwards, his soul no longer there to keep it upright. “Cossack?!” Lotor sounded panicked, reaching out to grasp hold of the man’s shoulders. He shook him, hard enough to jostle the sword inside him, but Cossack didn’t so much as give a grunt of pain.
Allura stared down at Cossack’s body, and with a certainty she wished she didn’t feel, made an announcement to the room. “He’s dead.” She followed up her words by bursting into tears, throwing herself into Lotor’s waiting arms.