Slave 103

He was aware of the nurse fussing over him, Lotor spying her actions out of the corner of his vision. The woman, an older Drule, worked carefully to clean his many wounds, Lotor not so much as hissing as she poured antiseptic over the gash in his chest. It dribbled down his skin, the woman working to wipe up the blood and liquid, carefully cleaning him up before applying gauze and bandages to his injury.

The worst of his injuries were his shoulder and his hip, Zarkon’s sword having dug deep inside as the former king impaled Lotor on his blade. Those wounds had had to be sewn up, tight stitches that would most likely leave a scar behind. Lotor couldn’t even muster up a scowl at the thought of his father leaving his mark on his body, the former prince numb to most feelings and sensations.

Lotor knew he was in a state of shock, having had little time to assimilate all that had happened. He was doing his best to cover, to hide his stunned state of being from the others, dutifully answering the doctor and nurses’ questions. He knew now was not the time to give in to despair, Lotor putting on a brave front, every inch the regal ruler as his subjects tended to him.

But inwards, where his thoughts were private, Lotor mourned. His friend was dead, the commander having giving his life to protect the woman that Lotor loved. It appeared to have been an unavoidable sacrifice, and yet Lotor wondered if there was something he could have done differently to have prevented Cossack’s dying. But no matter how many scenarios he ran through in his head, Lotor knew that Cossack had been the only one he trusted to guard Allura.

And now there was no one, Lotor keeping the girl close to him, Allura currently locked in the bathroom of this hospital room. She had been covered in blood, Cossack’s staining her hands and dress. Even her face had born the marks of the red liquid, and Lotor idly wondered how she had gotten blood on her lips. She wasn’t telling him, and he was in no mood to pry, quietly enduring all the tests the doctors forced him to submit too.

They were paying even more attention to him than normal, keenly aware that they now had the sole ruler of the Doom Empire in their care. The plus side to all this attention was the doctors kept everyone away except medical personnel, giving Lotor the time needed to think and calm himself down.

The hospital was packed with people, and more than a quarter of that space taken was used by bodies. Zarkon and Cossack had been brought down to the medical wing, their bodies being preserved for the upcoming funerals. Lotor could barely be bothered to think on the details, knowing protocol called for a lavish state affair for the former king’s burial.

Lotor was more concerned with seeing to Cossack’s burial, Lotor wanting to give the commander a hero’s procession. He intended to honor his friend as best he could, elevate the commander to the highest position possible for one of his less than noble rank. Cossack would be buried in style, and maybe then and only then Lotor would lose the guilt he felt for assigning his friend to what had been his final task.

The nurse stepped away from Lotor to rifle through her medical kit, pulling out a tube of pale purple pills. “Now…” She said, holding them before Lotor. “This will be to numb the pain…you can take two every four hours as needed….”

“Right…” Lotor said, dutifully taking the container from the woman. He doubted he’d use it. He felt dead to the pain, guilt eating away at him in a manner that couldn’t compete with even the worst of his injuries.

“The doctor will be along shortly to discharge you from the hospital.” The nurse continued, pausing when the bathroom door opened to admit Allura into the exam room. “Until then, do try and get some rest.”

“I have no time to sleep.” Muttered Lotor, noticing the way the nurse nervously curtsied before leaving the room. He fought to keep his eyes from rolling, turning to look at the one person who could still hold his attention even in his depressed state. “Allura…”

She had cleaned up as best she could, the blood gone from her hands and face. Her dress still bore the stains though, the garment a ruined mess that would have to be disposed of. He could see her hair was wild around her face, tangled in knots from the rough treatment she had received at the hands of her attacker. It wasn’t the only mark, her cheek was bruising, an ugly purple brown blotch that Allura kept an ice pack pressed against.

“How are you doing?” Allura asked, coming closer to the bed.

“As fine as can be expected.” Lotor sighed. He gestured Allura to come within touching distance, Lotor placing a tender hand on her hair. She looked at him quizzically, Lotor trying to stroke his fingers through her gold strands.

“I’m so sorry for your loss.” She said, eyes sad. “You must be feeling terrible about what happened tonight.”

“It’s fine.” His tone was curt, Lotor concentrating more on unraveling a knot in Allura’s hair than her words.

“No, it’s not!” He was surprised by her flare of temper, Lotor looking at Allura’s face. “Cossack was a good man, a good friend. You don’t have to pretend…..not with me.”

Tone bemused, Lotor allowed a reluctant nod of his head. “Never with you. Allura, you…are one of the only people left in my life that I can be truthful with. Cossack…He will be missed.”

“Yes.” Agreed Allura. “He will be.”

“He’ll be gone but not forgotten. We won’t ever forget his sacrifice.” Continued Lotor, and this time he drew her near with his good arm, hugging her close. “When I think about my father, and his plans for you….I see red.”

“What was he going to do with me?” Allura asked, and Lotor just barely remembered his injury in time to prevent shrugging his shoulders.

“I’m not entirely sure. We’re still trying to track down the murderer’s accomplices. No doubt they had a back up plan for if my father didn’t survive the ambush.” Lotor frowned, remembering Zarkon’s last taunt, the former king speaking on how Lotor would never see Allura or his children again.

“Such an awful, evil man.” He felt her shiver in his embrace, Allura unsettled by her thoughts.

“But he’s dead now. He won’t be able to hurt anyone from the grave.” His mouth a grim line, Lotor continued out loud. “Especially once I am done questioning the nobles who allied with him. I’ll find out just who betrayed me to him, and believe me when I say their fate won’t be pretty. Cossack’s blood is as much on their hands, as it is on my father’s.”

“Many died tonight…” She said quietly. “I had hoped it would mean an end to the killings…” A sad, bitter laugh followed her words. “I suppose that is naive of me to think that.”

“Perhaps, but it is an endearing quality you possess, this innocent belief in the best of people.” Lotor told her. “I hope you never lose such qualities, never become jaded and cynical.”

“I think it would be hard not to remain unchanged by the events on this planet.” Allura retorted. “Doom…seems to change people, and not for the best.”

“People change people.” Lotor corrected her, seeing her glance at him surprised. “I’m proof of that. After all, you made me become a better person in these few months.” She frowned then, as though Allura doubted he was truly changed. It made Lotor want to sigh, but instead he just hugged her closer to him, resting his chin on top of her head.

“What if you can’t find the nobles who betrayed you to the demon?” Allura asked, Lotor pulling back to glance at her. “Will you forever be surrounded by those you must doubt?”

“Court politics are a tricky thing….I can’t say I would ever fully trust any of the nobles, especially after tonight.” He frowned then, recalling how Zarkon had held them hostage. He knew he had won no friends in his actions this night, playing a part in the murder of several prominent members of various houses.

“Can a person really rule without the trust of their court?” Allura wondered out loud. She looked startled at Lotor’s humorless laugh, the prince giving her a bitter smile. “What?”

“My father never gave his trust to anyone, save perhaps that witch of his. If he could manage, so can I.”

“Everyone needs someone to trust!” Allura argued, a frown on her pretty face. “Even you.”

“I’ve still got Haggar….and you.” Lotor took the ice pack from Allura’s face, gently inspecting her bruised cheek.

“But will we be enough?” Allura asked, Lotor trying not to glare at the mark on her face. Seeing the bruise and the swelling, it made Lotor wish he could kill her attacker again and again, make him suffer even more than he had. “Lotor?”

“You will be.” He assured her, setting the ice pack down on the bed. She sighed, but accepted that. “I know Doom is so different from your Arus. Your family was loved by so many…..your parents must have had many people they could trust.”

“Yes.” Agreed Allura. “There was court intrigue, but nothing quite as complicated or as dangerous as what little I’ve experienced here on Doom. I don’t think I am cut out for such things…”

“You’ll manage.” Lotor told her. “What’s more, I think you would shine in the face of adversity. You would not let the nobles manipulate you, or our children. No puppet on a string would you be.”

“I’d like to think I wouldn’t be…” Allura began, sounding hesitant. “But…I just don’t know…” A knock on the exam room’s door followed her words, Lotor and Allura turning to look at it. “Don’t answer it!” Allura said, reaching for Lotor’s arm when he made a move to get off the bed. He looked at her confused, and she flushed, though looked no less panicked. “The last time someone unexpected knocked on the door…Cossack was killed!”

“I doubt anyone would dare try to kill me in the middle of the hospital…” Lotor said, trying to assure her. “There’s too many witnesses around!” Allura wasn’t reassured, still holding onto his arm, a fearful look in her eyes. The knock sounded again, and then the door was opening on it’s own, a grumpy female voice trumpeting into the room.

“Well, are you going to let me in or what?!”

“Haggar!” Allura sounded relieved, flushing redder as she let go of Lotor’s arm. The witch walked into the room, and behind her they could see a crowd of people, members of the court who were shouting out eager questions to the new King.

“Vultures, the lot of them.” Haggar grumbled, slamming the door shut behind her. “You haven’t even been crowned, and already they seek to bother you.”

“It’ll only get worse.” Lotor said, sighing. “They know the balance of power has changed, their past alliances tossed on their heads, as those who supported my father will fall out of the court’s favor in place of those who backed me all these years.”

“Yes, there will be a lot of ass kissing and fawning, people scrambling to retain their positions, and power.” Haggar was carrying something in her arms, a velvet cloth hiding it from view. “So!” She came to a stop before the bed, looking Lotor over. “King now.”

“Yes.” Lotor nodded, and Haggar actually cracked a smile, eyes showing her approval.

“It was a long, hard fought road….but you’ve earned your crown, King Lotor.” Haggar threw back the velvet cloth with a flourish, revealing a jewel encrusted, gold colored crown. It looked slightly dented from the fall it had suffered when Zarkon had tumbled down the staircase, but still it gleamed, polished to a perfection that one only achieved with daily scrubbing.

“Congratulations Lotor.” Allura said quietly, glancing shyly at him. Lotor said nothing, just staring at the crown, a frown on his face.

“Well?” Haggar arched an eyebrow, still holding out the crown to Lotor. “Aren’t you going to put it on?”

“I was just thinking….how this crown came with such a heavy price…” Lotor heaved a heavy sigh, making no move to touch the crown.

“We knew it would take sacrifice.” Haggar told him, making a tsking sound with her teeth. “Cossack isn’t the only life lost this night.”

“But it’s the only one I truly feel the loss of.” Lotor told them truthfully, feeling Allura touch his arm in sympathy.

“He’d be glad to hear that.” She said, forcing a smile.

“And the commander wouldn’t want you to mope about at a time like this. He’d want you to celebrate!” added Haggar. “Come Allura, put the crown on his highness.” Allura looked searchingly at Lotor, the Drule giving a nod of his head. She then reached out for the crown, fingers hesitantly picking it up. Allura had to go on tip toe, and Lotor had to bend downwards, but together they managed, Allura fitting the snug crown onto Lotor’s head.

“It looks better on you than it ever did your father.” Haggar said approvingly.

“How does it feel?” Allura asked, and Lotor paused, thinking it over.

“Heavy….I feel the weight of the empire resting on me now.”

“That it is.” Agreed Haggar. “I dare say you’ll find it is a very different thing, to be King than to be a prince. New burdens and responsibilities, and a lot more work. You’ll have take these next few days slow, don’t let anyone rush you past the mourning period. Your time will be limited soon enough.”

“You’ll be busy too Haggar.” Lotor told her. “As my witch and advisor, you’ll have to help me get settled.” Haggar looked pleased at that, surely not having suspected she’d gain any position past official witch of the new King.

“I’ll do my best.” She promised with a grin. “Although you’ll have to wait for my magic to come back to make full use of my talents.”

“I can wait.” Lotor said. “I’m in no hurry to dabble with magic this early in my reign! But for now…I do have a task for you….”

“And what is that?” asked Haggar, an eager look in her eyes.

“Stay with Allura.” Lotor told her. “I need someone I can trust to remain by her side…”

“And just where will you be going?” demanded Haggar, crossing her arms over her chest.

“To my father’s chambers.” Lotor answered, and on that matter he refused to reveal any more.

“Why?” Allura asked, watching as Lotor stood up and limped over to fetch the crutches near the door.

“There is something I have to do.”

“Well, isn’t that cryptic.” Haggar muttered.

‘At least wait for the doctor to discharge you.” Allura added, but Lotor was already opening the door. The waiting crowd grew excited at the sight of him, rushing towards him. Several of the mercenaries appeared, coming to Lotor’s aid by holding back the crowd as best they could.

“King Lotor! What will you do now that your father is dead?!”

“Your highness, will you be opening the treasury to fund the restoration of the cities?”

“Never mind the cities, what about reparations to the noble families who lost their member’s lives this night?”

On and on went the questions, Lotor making his way through the medical wing, the mercenaries following him in a protective circle. The king was beginning to get the idea that the reason his father always traveled around with a circle of guards, wasn’t so much for protection as it was to keep the overbearing nobles away! He ignored them as best he could, fighting back a growl at the slow progress he was making, thanks in part to the nobles pressing in so close.

“King Lotor, just what do you plan to do about the nobles who betrayed you to Zarkon?”

That question got Lotor to pause, the prince turning to peer into the crowd with a cold look in his eyes. “Any and all houses that are found to have allied themselves will suffer the same fate.”

Though they shivered at the tone of his voice, one woman braved his animosity to issue out another question. “And what fate will that be?” She let out a gasp when Lotor snatched a blaster off the holster of one of the mercenaries, the king turning to open fire on a smirking bust of Zarkon. The red bolts blew the marble apart, the pieces flying through the air as people ducked to avoid them.

“Complete and total annihilation.” Lotor answered, a self satisfied smirk on his face. Stunned silence followed his words, Lotor turning to limp towards the hospital wing’s doors. He kept his head held high, smoking blaster in hand as he walked. The nobles wisely did not try to follow him, but the mercenaries kept close, quick to do their jobs in protecting Lotor.

Lotor and his entourage got only a few feet down the hall that led out of the hospital, when one of the guards from the harem appeared in his path. Lotor nodded at the man, his voice gruff as he issued a one word command. “Report.”

“There’s no doubt about it….the commander’s murderer and his accomplices killed at least three more people. The two guards who had been patrolling outside your apartment, and the man you sent to check on the commander when he failed to answer his communicator. We are working now to locate those accomplices to bring them to justice.” An eager look from the guard, the man looking forward to hurting the accomplices. Cossack had been well liked by most of the guards who worked in the harem, the men would be itching for a chance to avenge him.

“See that you find them.” Lotor said, never pausing, as he hurried as fast as he could through the corridors. “And guardsmen….when you do? Gather up the rest of the guards.”

“And then what sire?”

Lotor flashed him a blood thirsty smile. “And then you are to be as creative as possible in….exacting justice on their miserable hides.” That got the guard to smile, the man saluting Lotor.

“Yes, sire!” He hurried off to relay the news, Lotor’s own smile fading as he stalked through the castle. He knew torturing those accomplices would not bring back Cossack, and yet it made him feel better to think on how they would suffer. He hoped Cossack was looking down from paradise with approval in his eyes at his actions.

With his limp, it took almost a half n hour for Lotor to reach Zarkon’s part of the castle, the prince pausing outside the threshold of the corridors that led to his den. “Leave me.” Lotor ordered, the mercenaries beginning to protest.

‘Sire, are you sure that’s wise?”

“I want to be alone now.” Lotor retorted, and held out his hand to the behemoth sized Drule. “Lend me your sword.” It was given to him, the mercenaries exchanging leery looks. “I said leave!” Lotor snapped, all but growling at the men. They hesitated no longer, quickly disappearing down another corridor. Lotor watched them leave, open blade humming in his hand.

Alone now, Lotor began the walk through the corridors, listening to his footsteps echo on the floor. He knew no one would be here to hear him coming, this part of the castle as dead as his father now was. He smirked to himself at that thought, stepping as quick as the crutches would allow him, until at last he reached the corridor which doubled as a gallery to Zarkon’s greatness.

For one brief second, Lotor merely stared at the paintings, looking at the figure of his father, and his many painted conquests. It was a memory he could do without, a memory Doom did not need, and with an angry bellow, Lotor was moving, slashing at the first of the paintings. The lazon made quick work of the portrait, Lotor growling and snarling as he moved on to the next. Such was his fury that in a manner of minutes all was destroyed, even the portrait of a young Lotor with his father.

It wasn’t enough, Lotor feeling he had not done enough damage to his father’s memory. His whole legacy had to be destroyed, Lotor smirking to himself as he thought on how he would erase Zarkon’s names from the history books, make it so that future generations would never know about the king, and his twisted nature.

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