He was back in the control room, enough time having passed by for Duke Solaran to have made his journey to Allura’s home. The outcome was not good, the Duke discovering the door to the villa had been forced open. Inside it was just short of a nightmare, several bodies scattered throughout the foyer and halls. The Duke had been too upset to properly identify them, the man having hurried outside to vomit into the bushes.
His people on planet Quevra were waiting for Lotor to tell them what to do, a decision that was proving difficult for Lotor to make. He knew the house was surely being watched, the people who had done this waiting for Lotor to discover their crimes. He didn’t know if he should alert them to the fact he knew, or if he should pretend ignorance and have the Duke contact the local authorities of the city’s capital.
Either way, the bodies had to be checked, Lotor fearing that one of them would be Allura’s. “Get our people off standby.” Lotor said at last, fighting back the tired sigh that wanted to escape him. “They need to sweep the area for clues….”
“Yes, your highness.” The lead technician said, fingers flying over his data pad. The Doom base on Umeso was contacted, the people there sending out the message to hurry to Allura’s home. It would take time, and each second was causing Lotor to die just a little more on the inside.
“What do you have for me?” Lotor spoke out loud, not even sparing a glance at the approaching aide. The man was clearly nervous, his breath coming just a little faster in his anxiety. Lotor could practically scent his fear, the man surely wondering if he would be the latest in a line of aides to meet death on the king’s sword.
“We….we’ve been checking up on Patroocia’s references.” He stammered, Lotor wondering what sort of method the two aides had used to decide who would bear the news to him.
“And?” Lotor asked just a tad impatiently.
“The Sindeers weren’t the only ones on that list to not have need of a nanny.” The aide shook as he spoke, tightening his fingers on the ledger he carried. “There’s two more couples that have not been graced with children, and at least a half a dozen families with children that are the wrong age to have hired a nanny in the last twenty years.” He let out a deep breath, preparing for the worse. “There’s more…”
Now Lotor looked at him, eyes narrowed as he waited for the worst. “We checked the child care registries for nanny Patroocia. The pictures do not match up….the real Patroocia was a much older woman….a woman who has long since retired. A woman…we’ve been told was murdered a few months ago.”
“Are you telling me…” Lotor began, words coming out on a hiss. “That you let some fake nanny into the castle, into the nursery where my children are?” He hadn’t made a move for his sword, but his fingers were already tensing, ready to take firm hold of the hilt.
“It was not I!” squeaked out the aide. “I wasn’t working at the castle when the fake Patroocia was hired.”
“Then who was?” growled Lotor, seeing how the aide shrunk back into himself.
“Rijadon.” He said, the name giving Lotor pause. He remembered that aide, vague though it was. He had been among his first choices, and had lasted longer than most. He still hadn’t survived Lotor erupting into a killing frenzy, the King recalling his replacements had numbered in the threes, each one dying in quick succession, one after another.
Lotor’s stare unnerved the aide, the man quivering before him. The aide had no idea Lotor was berating himself, the King wishing Rijadon was still alive so he could question him. But so far every lead they turned up proved to be one that they could not make use of.
“So…” The captain of his guards was speaking up, the man having drawn near enough to make out their conversation. “We have a dead retiree, a fake nanny planted in the castle to do the Gods only know what, and the aide who made sure to hire her.”
“Find out who she met with.” The captain ordered, the aide nodding, eager for a chance to back away from the king. “She had to be getting her orders from somewhere, and someone had to give her that hair to plant in the nursery.”
“It could have been sent to her as a package.” Lotor added, tone musing. “Hair would not have registered on the castle scanners as a dangerous item. She’d be free to collect, and eventually plant it in Adora’s crib.”
“True….but do we have time to even attempt to track the packages that came in and out of the castle?” wondered the captain.
“We probably don’t.” Lotor sighed, and gave a dismissive wave to the aide. The man hurried out of the room, Lotor turning from the sight of him. “Are our men ready to move?”
“Yes, you’re highness. Our numbers rival that of a small army, with a dozen men in position to raid each of the listed noble’s homes.” The captain allowed a faint smile to cross his face. “If your Allura is being held prisoner there, we will find her.”
“Good.” Lotor said. “I also want to find out if any of the nobles have any ties to planet Quevra. Duke Solaran visits Allura often enough that it had to be recent that the attack on her home took place. The bodies haven’t even had time to decompose yet, so I doubt very much that Allura is being held on Doom.”
The technicians reacted to his words, several beginning to type into their computers or data pads. He could see information appearing on their screen, words speeding by as they tried to make a connection between the nobles and planet Quevra.
“This took some engineering…” Lotor continued. “All those nobles working together to pad a fake resume. All on that list of references should be treated as enemies to the crown. You may use lethal force against them, but do leave some alive for questioning.”
“Yes, sire.” Nodded the captain in agreement.
“Are any of the nobles on that list in the castle?” Lotor wondered, and the captain shrugged.
“It’ll make our job just a little easier if they are. But…I wouldn’t count on it.” Lotor lifted a brow in question, the captain hurrying out an answer. “Only a fool would remain in the castle if they played even the smallest of roles in this situation. They’d have to know what sort of fate awaited them….”
“Your highness, the men on Umeso are at the villa now!” One of the technicians cried out, fingers flying on his key board. He pulled up the images on the view screen, pictures of the men arriving on Allura’s property. Duke Solaran was there to greet them, the human looking even paler than normal, with flecks of vomit sticking to his shirt. He refused to go inside the villa, giving an earnest report of what he had seen.
“There was blood everywhere! It seemed to paint the walls! They were ruthless…taking men and women down without thought.” He seemed to shudder, bringing a handkerchief to his mouth as though he felt the urge to vomit once more.
“King Lotor, with your permission we shall enter the mansion.” The leader of the troops down on Umeso said.
“All right.” Lotor nodded, coming to stand behind a chair, his hands gripping it’s top. He watched in silence as the group of soldiers approached the front doors, their body language cautious, the leader throwing up hand signals. They conveyed a silent message, one of the women nodding, hurrying inside the building. The remaining soldiers tensed up, their laser rifles drawn as they waited for their comrade to give the all clear.
It came a few minutes later, the woman shouting for them to come in. A camera man followed the soldiers, offering a clear view inside the house. Lotor’s fingers tightened on the chair’s back, the king feeling dizzy with rage to see so many bodies. The violence astounded him, Lotor feeling sad to think it had touched Allura’s life when she was so far from Doom.
The people had clearly tried to run from their attackers, laser bolts taking them down, holes in their backs, or in one case their head. It was effectively creepy to see the large gaping crater inside what had once been a human face. The walls indeed had blood splattered on them, though it had been an exaggeration on the Duke’s part to say they were painted red.
The further into the house they got, the less bodies they found. There was a woman lying face down on the rug, Lotor’s heart leaping into his throat at the sight of her blond hair. He almost failed to think, realizing it couldn’t be Allura for this woman still had a long mane of hair. One of the soldiers turned the woman onto her back, and Lotor let out a soft curse. It was Sasperella, one of the twins from planet Arus. How much worse it was to have a name for the bodies, Lotor fearing what it meant that one of Allura’s friends had been killed.
“I’ve found someone!” A man called out, and the soldiers began walking in the direction of his voice. Lotor wanting to scream at them to hurry, the king watching in helpless fury as they cautiously moved through the house.
They entered the room, and found the soldier with a woman, the man kneeling down to undo her gag and bindings. She was crying, tears streaming down her cheeks, Lotor unable to tell if it was grief or relief that was the cause of her distress. Probably both, the woman practically throwing herself into the soldier’s arms once her hands were free.
“What happened?” An impatient Lotor asked, his voice being carried over to the lead soldier’s ear piece. The soldier repeated the King’s question, the girl taking several moments to pull herself together. While they waited Lotor studied her, realizing she looked familiar. It was with a start that he realized it was another girl from Arus, a brunette whose name he hadn’t bothered to learn.
“It was horrible!” The brunette cried, seeming to shake with her fear. “They came in so quickly….they were shooting first, without warning. So many died….Allura!” She gasped, and Lotor found himself leaning forward, desperate to learn the girl’s fate. “They took Allura!”
“Who?!” hissed Lotor, the soldier asking in a calmer tone that very question.
“I don’t know!” The brunette was tearful, seeming ready to crumple once more. “They were wearing black hoods. I couldn’t see their faces and their clothes bore no identifying marks. You have to save her! You have to save Allura!”
“We will.” The soldier who had untied her said, trying to reassure the woman.
“They could do anything!” continued the brunette. “They would have killed us all, but Allura….oh…she’s so brave. So self sacrificing. She offered to go with them if they spared the rest of us…”
“She went with them?!” Lotor snarled, thinking it was just the kind of thing Allura would do.
“Check the other rooms.” Decided the head soldier. “See if there are any other survivors.”
“There has to be!” insisted the brunette, wringing her hands together. “I can’t be the only one…”
“Captain…” Lotor turned to the man standing near to him. “I want you to give the command. The raids on the nobles’ homes are to begin within the hour. Simultaneous assaults, we attack swift, and we attack hard.”
“Yes, your highness.” The captain of the guards had his communicator in hand, and he stepped away from Lotor to issue out the commands. Lotor continued to stare at the view screens, watching as the brunette continued to sob and cry. The camera moved, following soldiers out of the room. Eventually they found several more survivors, including Romelle and two other girls from Arus.
The twin of the dead Sasperalla was so hysterical with grief she had to be subdued, a tranquilizer dart being jabbed in her side. She continued to scream and rant right up to the point the sedative took effect, the girl crumpling into a heap on the floor. The remaining survivors were shaken, but able to speak, all confirming the brunette’s story, each insisting they owed their lives to Allura.
The soldiers gathered the survivors into one room, keeping them blocked off from the bodies at the front of the house. The villa continued to be searched, several soldiers moving towards the second floor. It was there that they found a message for Lotor, scratched out in dried blood on the wall. It was brief, the letters seeming to mock Lotor as it proclaimed they had Allura.
If he wanted to ensure her continued well being, he was to await further orders, to be prepared to listen to his new masters. Lotor scowled at that, nails digging in to the chair’s fabric, hearing the rip as the leather gave way.
“What do we do now?” wondered a technician, and it was with an eerie silence that everyone in the room turned to look at Lotor.
“We continue as planned.” Lotor announced. “They won’t dare harm Allura. They think so long as they keep her unharmed, they are safe. That they hold all the cards. Well, they’ll learn differently. It’s because she’s still alive that I will grant them a swift and merciful death. Captain…”
“Yes, your highness?”
“Give the command. The attacks begin now.” A cold fury was upon him, Lotor wishing he could personally be there to charge into each and every home. He wanted to see the fear on his enemies’ faces, to see their blood spill as he killed, to hear their protest ringing in his ears, their tongues wagging as they pleaded for their lives. He tried to soothe himself with the knowledge that he would discover Allura’s whereabouts, and once he had the location, nothing and no one would keep him from her side.