His guards were suspiciously absent from the hall outside the medical wing, a fact that had the cold dread building inside Lotor increasing in intensity. He knew there was little if anything that would get them to disobey a direct command from their prince, they were always so quick and careful to obey Lotor’s every command. There would be no reason good enough for them to have left, Lotor slowing his running pace, his hand drawing his sword.
It’s blue glow lit the area in front of him, Lotor stepping carefully forward even as his every instinct screamed at him to run. His footsteps were soft, hesitant sounds as he crept forward, eyes sweeping the corridor in front of him. He got a few more steps forward, and then his foot came down to squelch loudly on a puddle that lay in the midst of the floor. Lotor glanced down, and saw it was blood, lots of it, a red trail that led over to a pillar.
Whoever was responsible had taken the time to hide the body, but not cared enough to clean up the blood trail. They wanted to be found out, leaving evidence that mocked Lotor. The prince inched around the column, seeing dead eyes stare up at him. It was young Malcrom, the newest of Lotor’s guards, with numerous stab wounds all over his body. They had bled him like a stuck pig, making his death slow and torturous, something the young Drule had not deserved.
Lotor heard a low pitched growl, and for a second he started. That was before he realized the sound was coming from his own throat, the anger unable to stay contained inside him any longer. He reached out to close Malcrom’s unseeing eyes, promising a proper burial for him later, then stood. No sign of the other guard partnered with the Drule, but Lotor was sure he had suffered a similar fate.
If this was done to his guards, what had happened to Allura? The very thought had Lotor moving, nearly slipping on the blood as he broke into a run. He threw open the doors that led into the med bay, seeing the various staff scattered out on the floor looking up at his sudden entrance. A quick glance their way showed them to be healthy, whoever had struck in the hall had not seen fit to assault the medical personnel.
Lotor stalked forward, hearing gasps and seeing wide eyed stares at his appearance. He ignored their looks, running the last few feet to Allura’s room. The curtain over the window was drawn, hiding the room’s occupants from him. Lotor flung open the door, a frantic shout escaping his lips. “Allura?!” That sound died down half way, Lotor’s stomach rolling in disappointment at the sight of the empty bed.
He almost didn’t see the blood, too dismayed by her disappearance. But once his mind registered that the red was not just a messy pattern on the bed sheets but a spray of blood that decorated floor and bedside, Lotor let out a howl. Pure rage in that tone, the prince stepping closer to the bed. His hand went to hover over the blood, his heart anguished as he realized he was too late. “Allura…” He whispered her name now, voice hoarse, body wanting to sink down to his knees.
A sound from behind him had Lotor straightening, whipping about with his sword aimed to strike down whoever it was. A male scream was issued, hands being thrown up to ward off Lotor’s blade. They wouldn’t have proven an effective barrier against the sword, Lotor stopping his thrust when he recognized the doctor who had discovered the poison’s name.
“Where is she?!” Lotor demanded, lips curled back in a snarl, spit practically frothing forward with each spoken word. “Where is Allura?!”
“I…I…I…” The doctor was wide eyed, stuttering and scared, eyes looking back and forth from sword to prince. Lotor growled, and reached out with his hand, fingers snagging the doctor by the collar of his shirt. He pulled on the material, the doctor making a choked out sound as it tightened around his neck. Lotor hauled him up so that his feet all but dangled off the floor, Lotor looking in his eyes and growling out a demand.
“What happened here? Tell me or I’ll…” An unspoken threat, the sword being brought against the man’s face, lazon close enough to split his cheek open.
“He took her!” gasped the doctor, and Lotor’s eyes narrowed.
“Commander Donovan.” That hated name had Lotor dropping the doctor onto the floor, the man crumpling into a heap at Lotor’s feet.
“Donovan?!” It was Lotor’s turn to gasp, his mind reeling. He hadn’t had many dealings with the man since leaving Pollux, Lotor not even aware that the commander had returned to Doom. That was sloppy of him to have not kept better tabs on the traitor, Lotor inwardly cursing himself for his mistakes. “And you just let him walk out of here with her?!”
“He….he said it was under King Zarkon’s orders!” The doctor was trembling, not looking at Lotor as he held his hands over his head. Lotor had to fight not to kick the man in his side, only the reminder that his treatment had saved Allura’s life spared the doctor from Lotor’s wrath.
Lotor was silent too long, the doctor began spilling out details to fill the silence. “There was a struggle….she screamed…he…”
“There was an accident….the slave….she injured the commander….” It was not her blood. That made Lotor’s body relax, some of the tension he had felt vanquished to know it was not Allura who had been injured. “I had never seen him so angry…he….he struck her….rendered her unconscious with his punch.” The doctor realized his mistake in divulging too much information when he heard Lotor’s growl, the man glancing upwards to see Lotor glaring at him.
“What else?” Lotor said through gritted teeth.
“Pardon?” gasped the doctor.
“What else did he do to her?” Lotor demanded, and the doctor once again buried his head under his arms.
“Nothing I swear! He merely carried her out of the room.”
“Where was he headed?!” Lotor snarled out his question, seeing the doctor shake.
“I….I don’t know!”
“Did he say anything to you, did he do anything else, did he give you some kind of clue?!” Question after question fired at the man, the doctor shaking and refusing to look at Lotor.
“No nothing…nothing at all.” Lotor let out a curse, the doctor moaning at the sound. “Except….”
“Except?” Lotor was quick to pounce on the doctor’s hesitation, eyes narrowed. “Except what?”
“One of your guards was with him….” Lotor stiffened at the words, his eyes full of anger to hear that one of his private guards could be part of the conspiracy to take Allura way from him. “He said…He said they had to hurry if they wanted to get her to the meeting place in time.”
“Time for what?” Lotor wondered out loud, the doctor having no answer for him. A sense of urgency was working it’s way through him, Lotor reaching for the communicator on his belt. He pressed down on a switch, the radio crackling to life.
“Prince Lotor here.” Lotor had to fight not to hiss, making his words clear and pronounced as he spoke. “Cossack where are you?”
“I’m currently outside the harem halls.” Came the answer. “Why? Do you need anything from me?”
“Yes, put the word out that Commander Donovan is to be detained on sight. If he struggles…” Lotor did not smirk, his face deadly serious. “Kill him.”
“Kill him?!” gasped Cossack, Lotor biting out a sharp retort.
“Are you questioning my command?”
“Oh no your highness!” Cossack protested.
“Good…I want the word out that Donovan has turned traitor. He killed Malcrom and has taken Allura.” Lotor was already moving past the doctor, stepping out into the hall. He walked as briskly as he talked, hearing Cossack stuttering in shock. “Who was partnered with Malcrom?”
“Ensan.” Cossack answered, a hesitant questioning following the name. “Is he dead too?”
“No….it appears he is working with Donovan.” Lotor said. He was trying his best not to growl out his distaste, Lotor wishing he had killed Donovan the first chance he had gotten, rather than playing these games with his father. He had been waiting for the perfect opportunity, the chance to make it seem like Donovan had suffered an accident rather than outright murder, and look where it had gotten him.
No matter. Donovan was living on borrowed time. Lotor would see to his death personally, his and anyone else who had had a hand in Allura’s abduction.
“Your highness?” Cossack’s voice, interrupting Lotor’s vengeful thoughts. “Why would Donovan do this? Why take Allura?”
“He’s working for my father commander.” Lotor said, lips twitching into a disdainful sneer. “This is all Zarkon’s doing. Some twisted attempt to teach me a lesson.” Silence from Cossack, the man could not or would not comment on Lotor’s words. The prince himself felt the need to keep on talking, words tumbling past his lips. “It’s all been his doing. Allura’s collapse, her mysterious illness. All tests by my father.”
“Yes. Zarkon poisoned her. The damn fool admitted it!” Lotor was moving faster, stalking through the halls, his sword still gripped in his hand. He was almost not aware of carrying it out in the open, oblivious to it’s blue glow and the scared looks of the people he passed by. “You should probably send someone to the med wing.” Continued Lotor, an after thought occurring to him. “Malcrom’s body will need attending to…”
“I’ll get some men on it right away.” Cossack said, sounding grim.
“When this is over, you and I are going to be busy.” Lotor said, turning down the hall to the left.
“We’ll be rooting out those in my father’s service.” Lotor told him. “I won’t stand for having traitors in my midst any longer.”
“Of course.” Agreed Cossack. “Where are you now?”
“On my way to castle control’s command center.” Answered Lotor. “I’m going to see if we can’t locate Donovan from there.” A few beats pause, and then Lotor added. “Keep the line open. I don’t want to waste even an instant trying to contract you again.”
“All right your highness.” Cossack said, and Lotor fell silent. He reached the stair case, taking the steps two at a time, jumping the last three to land on the next level’s floor. He startled a maid, her arms full of laundry, her shriek resounding through the halls. “Quiet!” Lotor snapped at her, the woman dropping her burden. He strode past her, stepping over the spilt clothes and continued his fast pace.
He was not quite running, growling under his breath as he covered the distance to the castle’s command center. He was betting on the fact that the control room was a window into the goings on of the castle, numerous cameras set up to monitor various sections of the castle. Donovan would not be able to move without some camera capturing him, and even if he went to some of the dead zones, places where Zarkon had forbidden cameras to be set up, those areas that were monitored would give Lotor some clue as to where the commander was going.
Lotor burst into the command center without knocking, the technicians turning in surprise. They gaped at Lotor, the prince lifting a brow. “Well?! What are you all looking at?!”
“Sire…” began one, recovering faster than the others. “You’re bleeding!”
Lotor blinked his eyes, surprised. A glance downwards showed blood, blood he had forgotten about that coated his chest and neck. “It’s not mine.” Lotor answered, hardly concerned with his messy state. The cut on his arm had long since stopped bleeding, not even a sting of pain remained behind to remind Lotor of the injury. “You there….” Lotor pointed with his sword at the technician that had spoken. “Find me Commander Donovan!”
“The commander?” asked the technician, moving to retake his seat. His fingers began flying over his computer’s console, Lotor stepping towards him. His presence made the other technicians nervous, they hesitated to resume their duties. Lotor all but ignored them, leaning over the computer, his eyes on the many monitors that took up the far wall. He glanced at each one, studying it carefully, looking to see if Donovan and Allura were pictured. He was disappointed every time, seeing no sign of the pair.
Voices began calling out to each other, the other Drules rushing to assist, confirming what Lotor already saw. Donovan appeared to be outside the castle, and Lotor growled out a command.
“Patch me through to the castle’s control tower.”
It took them but a minute to do as he commanded, Lotor wanting to reach over and choke the life out of someone, finding the wait too long. But finally a voice answered, static accompanying his words.
“Control tower here.”
“This is Prince Lotor, commanding you tell me if one Commander Donovan is out on the landing strip.”
“Commander Donovan?” The man was surprised. “Why he just left the planet in a shuttle.”
“A shuttle?” Lotor’s fingers tightened on the back of the technician’s seat. “Where was he headed?!”
“Quickly! The flight plan!” Lotor snarled. “He had to have filed one with you!”
“One moment please.” Lotor had to fight not to curse, knowing every second brought Allura farther and farther away from him. He felt like he would stop breathing, either that or start screaming in impatience. “Ah….it appears he is going to meet a ship out in Doom air space. A Amazonia Star Class Elite.”
Lotor swore, a torrent of obscene curses issuing out of his mouth. A shuttle was limited in power, able only to travel to a distant planet or two. But with a Star Class Elite, Donovan could go anywhere, it’s warp drives capable of crossing the galaxy in an instant. “Get my private ships ready.” Lotor said, a plan formulating in his mind. “This take priority, dock all other ships. No one is to get on or off of Doom except by my authorization.”
“Yes, Prince Lotor.” The Command tower technician was wise enough to not protest, dutifully moving to relay his commands.
“Cossack, did you hear that?” Lotor had the communicator in hand, already moving to leave the control center.
“Sure did.” Came the answer, and Lotor smiled.
“Then you know where to meet me.”
“Gather as many men as you can find.” Continued Lotor, exiting the room. “We’re going to get Allura back.”