He had his feet propped up on the desk, Lotor leaning back in his chair, the leather creaking with each of his movements. Documents were in his hand, Lotor frowning as he read them, reports of Doom’s activity on other planets. It told of their success rates as they set about to new conquests, trying to capture planets that had long since resisted becoming part of the Doom Empire. Lotor would much rather be there in the midst of the action, then stuck here reading about someone else’s exploits but Zarkon had made it a command.
The King had ordered him to remain on Doom, Zarkon not trusting that Lotor would take Allura and flee his grasp. His father was still suspicious about the pregnancy, having his witch poke her nose in Lotor’s business. He only allowed himself to relax now that he had Haggar’s confirmation that Allura was indeed pregnant, a fact that no one would be able to deny now.
He sighed as he thought about the pregnancy, having had little time to prepare himself mentally to the idea of becoming a father this soon. He wondered if he was up for the challenge, Lotor’s thoughts more concerned with how he would keep the child and Allura safe than anything else. A family complicated things, gave him a weakness that his enemies could exploit. His father most of all!
Zarkon wouldn’t hesitate to do emotional blackmail, the King quick to turn on his own blood and use them as hostages to Lotor’s good behavior. Lotor chafed at the very idea, frowning to himself at the thought of being a puppet on Zarkon’s strings. It just made Lotor want to move up on his schedule, set his plans in motion which would see towards neutralizing the threat Zarkon could potentially pose.
It would require stealth and finesse, he would have to slowly gather his allies and prepare them to fight. The timing couldn’t be more wrong though, with Queen Merla poised to plunge the Doom Empire into a civil war at any moment. He didn’t know how things would play out, if he divided his forces, diverted power to attack his father while holding off Merla’s attack. He knew if it came to it, Merla would side with his father against him, something Lotor could not allow. It looked as though he would have to put the Queen down before he could move to overthrow his father.
“Damn him.” Lotor muttered, throwing the documents onto the desk. They landed next to his feet, the papers spilling slightly to spread messily across the surface. Zarkon had really screwed things up for him, the giving away of Allura setting into motion events that would secure his hold on the throne for just a little longer. It left Lotor brooding, angry as he tried to think of a way to take the advantage from his father.
“He cares for nothing and no one.” Lotor mused out loud. “He values only power and wealth. Things he has in spades.” Lotor knew he would have to seize that power from Zarkon, wrest control of it so that the King was weakened. It would help matters greatly if he could do away with Zarkon’s personal fortune, Lotor putting great thought to the idea of embezzlement. Emptying out Zarkon’s overflowing coffers little by little until the King himself was bankrupt.
Lotor smiled at the thought of adding that money to his own fortunes, knowing wealth was a different kind of power. A power to buy things, to increase one’s armies, paying for soldiers, ships, and weapons. Skill was needed in a war, but numbers played a part, able to overwhelm with the sheer size of one’s army.
A light on his desk flared to life, the red beacon nearly covered by paperwork. But Lotor caught sight of the blinking flash, his thoughts interrupted as he sat up, his feet leaving the desk to plant firmly on the floor. It appeared he had an incoming transmission, Lotor opening up the panel on the right arm of his chair. His fingers tapped out a sequence on the buttons revealed, a low hum of a motor sounding in the room.
Lotor watched as a view screen lowered itself out from the slit in the ceiling, the large white panel as long as his desk. It hovered to a stop just an inch above the desk’s surface, it’s screen starting to fill with static as it tried to connect the call. It hissed and hummed, the connection slow to establish, a mark of the distance between them that it had to struggle so.
But bit by bit, faces appeared among the static, transparent for the moment as they fought to established a clearer connection. Lotor did not speak, just watching, impatient as the static was slowly chased away, the picture leveling out, becoming brighter as it revealed the faces of his two Generals stationed down on Arus.
“Gentlemen.” Lotor forced a smile on his face, looking at them with polite interest. “I trust this isn’t a social call?”
“Not at all, Prince Lotor, sir.” Labreaza, as stiff as ever, his words formal as he offered a slight bow of his head. “We have news.”
“Oh?” Lotor arched an eyebrow, still seated so he leaned back comfortably in his chair. “Of what sort?”
Dicorta and Labreaza exchanged glances, as though weighing each other’s measure, and trying to decide who would be the one to break the news to their prince. At last Dicorta spoke, his voice unable to hide his excitement. “We found what appeared to be ruins in the desert.”
“More ruins?” Lotor sighed, disappointed. “I thought I told you to focus less on ruins and archaic devices, and find out more about Voltron and the lions?” His words held a chastising note to them, Lotor’s stare level as he gazed at his generals.
A shift from Dicorta, the man uncomfortable. “Well, yes but…”
“But?” echoed Lotor, hardly interested in the man’s excuses.
“This ruin bore investigating!” Dicorta finished, tone insistent. “We spotted it from overhead, when our scouts were flying over the desert. It was so large it was impossible to be missed.”
“So far I am hearing nothing to convince me of it’s value in wasting your time and mine.” Lotor said.
“Ah, but it was the nature of the ruin that compelled us to take a closer look!” Labreaza speaking now, tone excited. “For you see….it was….shaped like a lion.”
“A lion?!” Lotor’s eyes flickered with emotion.
Labreaza smirked. “I thought that would get your attention. Yes, a lion. The largest I’ve ever seen, bigger than a four story building, and made entirely out of sand. It defies all logic, there is no reason why the sand should hold it’s shape but it does! What’s more…” He licked his lips, taking a breath to slow his anxious tone. “We explored inside, and discovered it was a lair. A sort of….holding spot for the treasure inside.”
“And just what was this treasure?”
Now both men smiled at Lotor’s question, the two men attempting to speak at once. “A lion!”
Lotor leaned forward in his seat, his hands touching his desk as he stared at the two men. “Are you telling me you just found one of the fabled lions of Arus?!”
“That is affirmative sire.”
Lotor inhaled sharply, staring stunned at his two Generals. “And is it everything we hoped for?”
“Oh yes.” The two men were nodding, Dicorta’s eyes lit with excitement as he spoke. “Yellow lion is already exceeding all our expectations, and testing has only begun.”
“Yellow lion…” Lotor repeated the name under his breath, Dicorta continuing.
“It is faster than any ship we’ve ever seen. Stronger in both attack power and defensive capabilities. Why it’s claws alone can rend through triple enforced lazon in a single stroke. That’s nothing to say of it’s unique abilities.”
“Such as?” Lotor asked.
“Well, it relies on earth based attacks! We can discern no power source for the sand blaster weapon, it appears as though magic plays a hand in these elemental acts.” Dicorta said.
“Of course, we have already begun an extensive study of the lion and it’s lair.” Labreaza took his turn at speaking, his hands gesturing off camera. A window opened up in the corner of the view screen, showing the sleek form of the ship known as yellow lion. Lotor couldn’t help staring, see it really did resemble a feline in appearance, with four separate legs, and a tail. It’s face had a working jaw, which it demonstrated now by clamping down on a star cutter’s wing.
“Is it limited to the ground only?” Lotor asked, watching the video of the lion racing across the desert floor.
“Oh no, it is quite capable of flying!” Labreaza said. “It has hidden jets and thrusters in the pads of it’s paws. It rides the air currents quite naturally, it’s outward design minimizing wind resistance and maximizing the potential for gliding. It is also quite capable of space travel. Our pilots have tested it both on the ground, and in the air, and we have even begun testing in space. It is simple a marvelous piece of work, and it’s destructive power defies logic!”
“That’s good.” A genuine smile from Lotor, the prince pleased with the news. He continued to watch the streaming video of the lion in action, amazed at how easily it sliced through the ships attacking it, as though the star cutters could not hope to give it the work out it needed. “Now…tell me…Have you had any success in finding out what this lion is made of?”
“No sire.” A regretful look from Dicorta. “I regret to inform you that it has a forcefield that prevents all but the smallest maintenance to be done on the lion. Our scanners have tried to get readings off it’s hide, and yet some sort of energy wave disrupts all attempts at readings. We may never know the secret behind the creation of such a fabulous ship.”
“Pardon?” Both generals were confused at Lotor’s words.
“If we cannot discover the source, we cannot hope to even attempt to manufacture copies.” Lotor spoke slowly, steeping his fingers together before his face. “Naturally my father will want such a powerful ship added to his arsenal…..he’ll want as many as he can have, which means…” A smirk then, Lotor pleased. “He will delay the destruction of Arus for you to uncover the four remaining lions. Gentleman! This is exactly the sort of break we have been needing!”
“Er yes Prince Lotor.” Agreed Dicorta.
“But we have little hope of locating all five lions. It was mere fluke that we discovered this one.” Labreaza said.
“There is of course the matter of the hieroglyphics we found inside the lion’s lair.” Dicorta pointed out. “Our best translators are working on it as we speak, determined to find the meaning behind those pictures.”
“Continue on that.” Ordered Lotor. “And continue testing the lion you do have. I want a full report on all it’s capabilities! Understand?”
“Yes, Prince Lotor.” Nodded Dicorta.
“And send me whatever details you already have.” Continued Lotor. “I want to present my father with this news immediately!”
“Fine sire. I shall prepare to send the information to you immediately.” Dicorta said, a sharp word being spoken to someone off screen. More videos of the lion in action appeared on Lotor’s monitor, along with data reports listing findings and observations about the very nature of the lion. Lotor pressed a button on his control panel, recording the information, saving it to his computer’s hard drive.
“There is one more thing I thought we should mention.” Dicorta began, and Lotor nodded.
“Do go on.”
“One picture keeps repeating itself in the hieroglyphics found in yellow lion’s lair.” Dicorta said. “It appears to keep mentioning a forest. A large one surrounding a lake. We’ve searched the planet, and have found only two such forests that match. The Blue Mist Forest, and The Gnarled Woods.”
“Our translators speculate it could be pointing the way to the next lion.” Added Labreaza.
“Search the forests.” Lotor said, his voice commanding. “Cut down all the trees if you have to, but leave no spot uncovered in those two woods! I want the next lion found by our next communication!”
“Prince Lotor is that not a bit unreasonable….” Labreaza began. “We need time to go over the woods, and it may very well be a coincidence that the one picture keeps repeating itself.”
“I will leave nothing to chance.” Lotor said. “Do as I command.”
“Yes your highness.” Both men said, somehow holding in their sighs.
“If that is all….?” Lotor already had his finger over the button that would end the transmission.
“We will check back with you in a few days.” Dicrota said, and Lotor nodded.
“Very well. Lotor out.” He pushed the button, seeing the view screen go blank in the center, Dicorta and Labreaza vanishing from sight. Yellow lion continued to perform on his screen, Lotor’s eyes thoughtful as he watched it’s actions. It really was a thing of beauty, this sleek lion with it’s white and yellow metal, as it ran through the sky, firing missile blasts from a cannon on it’s shoulder.
It was more than just a weapon to Lotor, it represented hope to him. The hope that he had finally found the key to saving Arus from Zarkon’s devastating plot. He let out a breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding, fingers flying over his control panel as he typed in the transmission sequence to King Zarkon’s personal chambers. The image of the lions cleared from the screen, Lotor waiting impatiently for his father to answer his call.
One ring then two, Zarkon seeming intent on taking his time in accepting the call. But at last his face appeared on the screen, Zarkon seated behind the desk that had replaced the one Lotor had destroyed. His father looked at Lotor, and he narrowed his eyes, his voice harsh as he spoke.
“What is it Lotor? I have no time for social calls this day.”
“It is not a social call, of that I can assure you father.” Lotor said, sitting up straight in his chair. “I want to discuss Arus’ future with you.”
“Oh not that again.” Zarkon made a tired face, the man’s eyes showing his disdain for the subject. “I’ve given you a week Lotor, I’ve been more than generous in delaying things. The testing will commence on the morrow, and it will go according to schedule so I suggest you pull your men off the planet while they are still in one piece.”
“A moment father. I think I have something that will change your mind.”
“Your smiling Lotor. How unlike you.” Suspicion was in the King’s tone, the man narrowing his eyes at his son.
“I have good reason too.” Lotor felt his smirk widen, the prince sure of his victory. “My men on Arus have found something. A thing that will be of great interest to you.”
“Oh? And just what could that be?” A doubting Zarkon asked.
“We have many weapons.” Zarkon said. “I doubt anything that backwards planet could produce will impress me.”
“Ah but you haven’t seen it yet.” Lotor said, fingers poised over the control panel. “A ship like no other, with offensive and defensive capabilities the rest of the galaxy has only dreamed of.”
“Nonsense, no such thing exists.” Scoffed the King.
“Then how do you explain this?” A touch of the buttons had the video of yellow lion being transmitted to Zarkon’s office, the King staring back at it.
“It’s a cat.”
“A lion.” Corrected Lotor, annoyed at Zarkon’s dismissive tone. “See how easily it tears through our ships? The speed in which it moves? The power it displays at it unleashes attacks?”
“How do I know this isn’t doctored film?” demanded Zarkon.
“You have my word it is not.” Lotor swore, and Zarkon laughed.
“Your word hasn’t been good for very much lately.”
“Then send some of your own men to the planet. Have them witness the lion in action itself.” Lotor said, and sent over the data reports he had received from his Generals. “In fact, send that witch of yours to Arus. She’ll be most interested to know the lion is shrouded in mystery and magic.”
“Magic eh?” Zarkon grunted. “That would get Cortana’s attention.” His eyes were reading the reports, Zarkon unable to keep his eyes from widening at what he read. “If what these reports say are true, then this is most impressive.” He stroked his chin, leaning back in his chair. “Most impressive indeed.”
“Then you will hold off on destroying Arus while we further investigate the lion?” Lotor asked, then quickly added. “My men are in the process of locating the second one.”
“There’s more than one?” Zarkon asked, an intrigued note in his voice.
“There’s five in all.” A light laugh from Lotor, the prince shrugging. “Rumor has it they assemble to form an even greater weapon. A robot, Voltron.”
“Voltron…” Zarkon repeated the word, seeming to savor the sound. “If this is all true, why didn’t the Arusians use it to defend their planet?”
“They didn’t believe in it’s existence. It’s lions and the location of them were lost to the people. Heh….They merely thought of it as a child’s fanciful tale.”
“Then how did you discover it?” Zarkon demanded.
“A witch pointed me in the right direction.” Lotor answered, and Zarkon frowned.
“Hmm….you have been spending a suspicious amount of time with Haggar. No doubt it was she who told you about the legend…”
Lotor gave a slight nod of his head. “It was an idle curiosity on her part. Allura is the one who told me about the legend of Voltron. My men were merely lucky enough to find proof of it in the time allocated to them.”
“I see. All right Lotor, you’ve won. Arus won’t be destroyed anytime soon. At least not until my men can get down there and see whether this lion of yours really does exist.” A warning in his tone, Zarkon lifting a clawed finger to point at the monitor. “But if it proves to be nothing more than a hoax, I won’t hesitate to lay waste to the planet, your men and all included!”
“Of course. There are no objections on my part.” Lotor said, seeing his father smirk.
“But I hope this is for real. It would be nice to have a new toy to play with.” He ended the conversation with those words, the screen going blank as Zarkon pushed a button. Lotor sighed, wondering how long the lions would hold his father’s attention.