There was screams all around him, men and women panicking, their horrified shouts echoing throughout the room. The screamers weren’t content to remain still, they moved, pushing at each other, and hurrying out of Lotor’s way. None tried to stop him, not even at their Queen’s frantic shout, the nobles in their fine garments falling away, leaving a clear path to the Queen’s son.
Prince Morwin was turning, his arm in the process of dropping, the whip starting it’s descent toward Allura’s back. His look was one of confusion, the man slow to realize the danger approaching him. His brow lifted in surprise, his mouth opening to ask a question at the site of the scattered nobles. Whatever he said was loss to a scream of pain, the whip falling just short of striking Allura.
Time seemed to slow, Morwin taking a step back, his feature’s distorted with pain. Something thumped on the carpet, the screams from the watching nobles growing louder. They tried to leave the room, but Lotor’s men were blocking the way, weapons being brought to bear against the people of Merla’s court. Lotor heard Cossack shouting, his voice raising with each word, trying to get the crowd under control.
Morwin lifted his arm, and blood was sprayed in every direction as he flailed about, frantic as he realized he no longer had a right hand to call his own. The lazon of Lotor’s sword had severed it in one clean stroke, taking off a chunk of the wrist in the process, leaving bone to protrude with bits of skin dangling around it.
Morwin seemed to gather his wits enough to bring his left hand to cover the gaping hole on his right arm, trying to staunch the bleeding with his fingers. He didn’t stop screaming, staring at Lotor in shock, eyes bright with pain. The agony Lotor saw, the terror and confusion made the prince smile, Lotor bringing his bloodied blade up to point at Morwin’s throat.
Morwin was coherent enough to freeze at the touch of the lazon to his skin, his breath catching mid scream. Lotor was a conflict of emotions, he wanted to kill Morwin, of that there was no doubt. The greatest pleasure he could have at the moment would be to end this miserable toad’s worthless life. But the turmoil that presented itself to Lotor’s mind was a question of how to do it. Fast or slow.
A whimper from Allura had him deciding. Morwin would die a slow death, he would pay for each and every cut on Allura’s back. Lotor’s eyes narrowed, and his arm moved, sword slashing open the front of the men’s chest, searing off a nipple in the process. Morwin screamed and dropped to his knees, and Lotor raised his arm, intent on driving his sword into the man’s shoulder.
He was giving a twist of his blade when he became aware of one woman’s voice, louder than the rest. He gave a jerk of his sword, seeing the blood that erupted at it’s withdrawal. His hand was moving, ready to find it’s next target when a woman appeared before him. Lotor wasn’t so far gone as to strike her, hand hesitating as Queen Merla dropped to her knees, wrapping her arms around her bleeding son.
Her gold eyes gleamed with anger, she stared bravely at Lotor, her purple painted lips trembling. “Get out of my way.” Lotor snarled, incensed that his revenge has been interrupted.
“NO!” Merla refused, cradling Morwin’s head against her covered bosom. The injured prince was making pitiful noises, his blood getting all over the Queen and her fine gown.
Lotor hissed out a curse, stepping towards the pair. He grabbed at the queen’s arm, trying to wrench her off of her son. She shrieked and held tighter, Lotor wondering if he’d have to pull her arm from her socket in order to separate the two.
His torture of Morwin interrupted, Lotor took aim with his sword. “I can still finsih him off, even with you in the way.”
Merla’s eyes seemed to widen, she stared at the sword extended before her face, it’s tip touching Morwin’s temple. He saw her proud facade crumble, the Queen’s eyes taken on a desperate look. “Mercy!” She shouted it, voice strong. “Prince Lotor, I beg of you….show mercy for my son.”
“Mercy?” Lotor pulled back his arm, making a scoffing noise. “You dare ask me for mercy?!” She nodded and Lotor leaned towards her, hand snagging her braid. He gave a cruel jerk on it, forcing the Queen’s head back as he hissed. “Where was your mercy when he took the whip to this girl’s back?!”
“But she is nothing more than a slave!” Merla protested, voice tight with pain. “Property! An object to be used….”
“She is a human being!” Lotor roared back, Merla seeming to cringe at his shout. “What’s more she is mine. To act against her is to commit treason against me!”
“But King Zarkon said…” She tried to shake her head free of his hold, failing miserably. “He said you gave her to us.”
“But we did not know it was a lie!” She retorted. “Prince Lotor please, Morwin needs a doctor. Every second wasted means he could bleed to death.”
“Let him.” Lotor gave a curt laugh. “It’s the least he deserves.”
“This is madness….” Merla snapped. “You are insane if you wish to cause this much trouble over this girl. No slave is worth that much!”
“That’s where you’re wrong…” Lotor said, but even he had doubts about his grip on reality. If the situation had been reversed, he would have laughed and sneered to see someone so worked up over a girl, let alone a slave. But Allura had changed him, and not all for the better, making Lotor rash and foolhardy when it came to her safety.
“Am I?” demanded Merla. “Lotor, if you go through with this….if you let Morwin die, it will be a declaration of war between us. I won’t rest until I hunt you down, and destroy you and the things you care about. This girl included.”
“Your threats mean little to me.” Lotor told her. “I have the backing of the Doom Empire, I will bring down the resources of an infinite number of planets against your measly one. I will crush you Merla, leave you to rue this day!”
“I already do.” She whispered. “And it makes me all the more determined to fight against you.”
“So be it.” With a thrust of his arm, he stabbed his sword forward, right through the side of Morwin’s head. Merla let out a scream, grief stricken to the core, staring not at Lotor but at her son’s face. She watched as the light slowly dimmed in Morwin’s eyes, the man gasping his last breath to go limp in her arms.
Lotor had already turned away, his sword pulled free of the corpse’s head. He felt a finality in the air, felt cold satisfaction at his actions. That feeling was pushed aside when he looked at Allura, body so limp with pain and exhaustion that she had to be supported by the chains to remain standing.
They pulled on her arms, it had to be painful the way the manacles forced her to remain upright. But it couldn’t compare to the pain the whip had inflicted, Allura’s back a red ruin of gashes and welts. Blood coated her skin, dribbling down her skin, and even her hair was tinged red. It clung to her skin, the blood a sticky adhesive, her hair hiding some of her injuries from Lotor.
“Allura…” Lotor said her name, but she barely reacted. He went to take a step towards her, when Merla screamed. He was turning, seeing the Queen on her feet, her son laying face down on the carpet.
“You!” She shouted, and lunged towards him, fingers curled, her long manicured nails resembling claws. She windmilled her arms, slashing her nails across his side, screaming wildly as she beat and scratched at him. Lotor swore and caught at her shoulder, pushing her away from him. Merla merely fought against his hand’s grip, hands swinging wildly as she tried to reach him.
“Cossack.” Just his name had the commander reacting, the man hurrying over to Lotor’s side. Wordlessly, he grasped hold of the Queen, none to gentle as he dragged her away from Lotor’s side. Merla continued to scream, and amidst her shrieks, a sob was heard. The Queen was breaking down, giving in to her grief to slump weakly against Cossack’s chest, weeping bitterly.
Lotor tuned her out, eyeing Allura, eyeing the chains that held her trapped against the blood splattered wall. With a restrained shout, his sword moved, lazon slicing through the metal. In an instant Allura crumpled, going to fall to the floor. Lotor’s arm was there to catch her, hand sliding around her waist, his other still holding onto his sword.
“Allura.” Lotor said her name urgently. feeling the blood slick his skin. She made a sound, but her eyes were closed, shut tight against him. “Allura….look at me…” He set down his sword, thrusting it into the carpeted floor so that it remained upright.
His hand reached towards her face, stroking a tear stained cheek gently. The girl reacted to the touch, making a sound. “Ngh….”
“Allura…it’s okay….I’m here….you’re safe now…” Lotor told her, his voice lowered so that only she could hear what he was saying. His fingers smoothed back her damp hair, Allura’s eyes starting to flutter open. She looked at him, and for a second her eyes were unseeing, too hazy with the pain of her injuries to be aware of anything else.
“Eh….” A pained whimper from her, Lotor making soothing sounds. And then her eyes widened, Allura showing fear, trying to leap free of his hold on her. She cried out in pain when she moved, Lotor dropping his hand away from her face to steady her around the waist.
Still so frightened, she began babbling, her words foreign and whispered out in a hoarse voice. Lotor frowned, shaking his head. “I don’t understand you…” She was looking at him like she didn’t recognize him, Lotor wondered if the pain had made her go mad and dull-witted.
It was then he remembered the helmet on his head, the visor down so that it obscured half his face. Understanding shown in his eyes, Lotor reaching up to remove it. Allura seemed to cringe at his arm’s movements, not trusting what he intended to do. But when he got the helmet off, her eyes widened, showing their recognition.
“Lotor?” She whispered, voice so soft as though it hurt her to talk. He nodded, but did not smile, holding his breath as he watched her look wonderingly at him. She winced, and lifted her hand, bringing it to touch his cheek. Her touch was soft, hesitant, fingers moving to stroke back to touch his hair, sweep it behind his ear.
“Yes, it’s me.” Lotor confirmed for her, and at his words her hand dropped, Allura weak from the effort it had taken to touch him. She sniffled, tears renewed in her eyes, Lotor careful as he hugged her close. “Shhh….it’s okay now….No one will hurt you so long as I am near….”
“Lotor!” Allura cried, and words in Drule poured out of her. “I thought you had given me away! That you had abandoned me!”
“Never.” Lotor swore, and she seemed to cry harder. For a minute he just held her as best he could, listening to her sob her heart out. She occasionally let out words, whispering things about how frightened she had felt, how alone she had been. Lotor listened to it all, making soothing sounds as he tried to comfort her.
The scene didn’t last, their emotional reunion was interrupted by shouts. Arms still around Allura, Lotor glanced over his shoulder, even as the girl went silent at the sounds. More of Merla’s soldiers had arrived, the yellow and black clad women standing out in the entertainment room. Lotor’s men had turned, plastering themselves to the sides of the pleasure room’s door, their blasters in hand.
“Merla!” Lotor shouted, lifting Allura up into his arms. She whimpered, and cuddled close to him, her one arm going across his chest. She didn’t lift her head, Allura hiding her face against his uniform. “Call off your soldiers.”
Merla seemed to recover momentarily from her bout of grief, lifting her head up from Cossack’s chest. Her mascara had run, leaving angry black streaks down her blue cheeks. “You dare give me orders?”
“Call them off.” Lotor said. “It’s hopeless for you to fight.”
“My Dwarflings outnumber your men.” She pointed out, even as Cossak’s hands tightened on her arms, holding her close.
“Yes, but they cannot risk shooting in here. Not if they want to endanger you and your court.” Lotor pointed out.
“You are a fool if you think I will let you walk out of here alive.” Merla retorted.
“It’s up to me to break the standstill then.” Lotor sighed. “Commander, if you please. Take the Queen to the next room.”
“With pleasure.” Cossack said, and slid an arm across Merla’s chest, pinning her to him. “Now you just walk slowly your highness. No need to make any sudden moves, all right?”
Lotor watched as Cossack and Merla made their slow way to the door, Allura trembling in his arms the whole time. From the outer room, a voice shouted, a hasty command to the other soldiers. “Don’t shoot, it’s the Queen!”
“Now….” Lotor strode towards the door, being careful to remain just out of sight in case a Dwarfling got any ideas about shooting at him and Allura. “We’re all going to go for a long walk. The Queen included.”
The Dwarflings were showing their uncertainty. weapons held low as they stared at their hostage Queen. Cossack stepped into the room, cautious and alert for an attack, none forthcoming. Lotor gave a nod of his head to the General that supervised his men, the man giving orders via hand gestures. Single file, Lotor’s men inched into the entertainment room, Lotor and Allura being the last to follow.
Amidst the women warriors, the slaves and the servants, were three of Lotor’s men, down on their knees with their hands behind their heads. They had been supervising the captives in the entertainment room when the Dwarflings had run in, being taken by surprised.
“Gentlemen, if you please. You’re coming with us.” Lotor said, seeing the relief in those three’s eyes. They slowly got to their feet, not quite smirking as they went to rejoin Lotor’s group of men. “Now….move away from the door.”
“Don’t do it.” Merla ordered, and fell silent when Cossack shook her.
“Do as I command or the Queen will suffer in your place!” Lotor hissed, the Dwarflings still hesitating.
“Don’t hurt the Queen!” A noble shouted from the pleasure room, the others taking up the cry.
“He’s killed the prince! He won’t hesitate to do the same to our Queen!”
“It’s true.” A grim smile on Lotor’s face. “Your prince is dead. Your Queen’s life means nothing to me. I’ll snuff her out in an instant.”
“They’ll kill you if you do that.” Merla hissed.
“Not so long as we are in Doom air space.” Lotor said. “Killing you will make your planet revert to Zarkon’s rule, and as the crown prince, your Dwarflings will be mine to command. I say it’s win win for me.” Merla seemed to sag against Cossack, falling silent. “Well, Merla?” Lotor actually felt amusement at her predicament. “It’s your choice. You do want to live to get your revenge, don’t you?”
That seemed to settle it, she raised her head, eyes blazing with determination. “Clear out of the way. Radio ahead. Let all know Lotor and his men are to be allowed to leave without further interruption.”
“An excellent move.” Praised Lotor, watching as the women soldiers began shuffling out of the way, their weapons reholstered. Leading the way, Cossack dragged Merla with him, exiting the room and out into the hall where more soldiers awaited them. Lotor’s men hurried to follow, the prince strolling behind them, his voice whisper soft as he spoke to Allura.
“It’s almost over. We”ll be leaving in just a few minutes.” Allura said nothing in response, just tightened her arm around him in response, still hiding her face from the eyes of the watching crowd.
It took time to reach the connecting ramp to Lotor’s ship, time that seemed to go by even slower as the minutes crawled by. Lotor itched to get Allura onboard, and into one of the private cabins, the prince wanting to clean her up and tend to her wounds. Merla seemed to purposefully be going slow, even at Cossack’s insistent prodding, the Queen still reluctant to let them leave.
But eventually they made it to the ramp, Lotor’s men taking up positions inside it, leaving an open path for the prince to walk down. He carried Allura onto it, not quite breathing a sigh of relief as he saw the open door that led to his flag ship. More Doom soldiers were emerging, quick to surround Lotor and his prize.
“Now…” Lotor turned, seeing Cossack standing just before the doors that led to Merla’s ship. Her Dwarflings stood on the other side, faces anxious as they waited to see what would happen next. “Release her.”
“Pardon?” Cossack was surprised. “Is that really a good idea?!”
“She’s served her purpose. I’ll not have her blood on my hands this day.” Lotor looked at Merla, eyes narrowed. “But know this, proud Queen. If you dare come after me, if you send even one assassin, your life will be mine. And death will be the least of your troubles.”
“I will risk it.” Merla hissed. “I will risk everything to get my revenge.”
“You are grief stricken and clearly not thinking right.” Lotor said condescendingly. “Give yourself some time to mourn your son. Time to think with a clearer head. If you still thirst for revenge, then come after me. I will look forward to your attempts. Now Cossack….release her!”
“Okay…” Cossack cast a glance at the solider standing by the door’s control panel. The man nodded at the Commander, Cossack sighing as he shoved Merla through the doorway.
The Queen stumbled and fell to her knees, her voice screaming out an order. “Shoot! Kill them! Kill them all!” Her Dwarflings immediately reacted, the women drawing their weapons, issuing laser fire into the ramp. Lotor dropped to the ground, crouching protectively over Allura as laser fire was exchanged by both parties. A few of the men that had encircled Lotor fell to the deadly blasts, their lives given to protect their prince.
“Get that door closed!” Cossack screamed, and Lotor could hear the hum of the doors as it began to move. It was slow, taking it’s time, more fire being exchanged. Allura was whimpering, making panicked noises, Lotor whispering in her ear. “Shhh….it’s all right little one….”
Finally the doors snapped close with a clang, everyone inside the chute breathing a sigh of relief. Faintly they could hear yelling, Merla issuing commands for the door to be forced open. The man by the control panel began typing in a code, overriding the opening sequence. “This will buy us enough time to get to the ship.” He said, and Lotor nodded.
“Let us go.” Lotor said, standing with Allura in his arms. He stepped in the direction of the flag ship, neither he nor Allura looking back. They had no reason to, Merla’s Elite holding nothing but pain and horror, terrible memories of the past. Lotor just hoped their immediate future didn’t provide even more doses of a harsh reality.