The leather made a dry creaking noise as it was pulled across his legs, Lotor hitching the pants up that one final inch so that it settled snug around his hips. His fingers dropped down to do up the zipper, fastening close the crotch in one quick movement. He then smoothed his hand over his vest, the garment chosen for the fact that it had no sleeves, Lotor finding he had little in the way of shirts that would fit over the splint on his arm.
He sighed, glancing at the thin cast that was wound over his left arm, taking up the space between wrist and elbow. He had been injured worse than he thought, the x-rays finding the bone fractured to the point the doctor insisted on putting a splint on him. It was made bulky with padding, bandages cushioning his arm, and making it too big for a sleeve to fit over.
He didn’t mind showing off his arms, save for the splint, knowing his limbs were well toned with muscles. Lotor knew he would draw many admiring glances, although he wished it was under different circumstances. He sighed and bent down, retrieving the boots a servant had brought him, the prince struggling to put them on using only his right arm. He could have asked for the servant to come help him, but his pride chaffed at the thought, Lotor not wanting his injury to make anyone think he was weak.
For the most part he was annoyed at the concern he saw in the eyes of the people around him, Lotor fighting not to sink into a bad mood. The only one he wanted extra attention from was Allura, Lotor not minding the worry in her eyes when she had come to visit him this morning in his hospital room. She had brought flowers with her, one of the many bouquets he decorated her room with, explaining in halting Drule it was a custom of her people to bring a gift of them when someone was in the hospital. He had accepted them gladly, thrilled that she had cared enough to think of him in that way.
She hadn’t been able to stay as long as he would have liked, she had one of her scheduled lessons with Haggar to attend too. But still he made her a promise, assuring Allura that he would be out of the hospital in time to share dinner with her. Allura had actually smiled at that, confiding to Lotor that she would like that. It had lifted his heart to hear her say that, Lotor finding the hours could not pass by fast enough for his liking.
But now it was evening, the promised hour upon him, Lotor hurrying to pull on his other boot. It came up to his knee, all black leather dyed with a fine band of red across the top. Red was his chosen color for accents this night, the vest bearing trimmings of that crimson shade. He took a glance at the floor length mirror positioned against the wall, nodding in approval at his reflection.
One last touch, Lotor brushing his hand through his hair, artfully rearranging the white strands and then he was moving. He walked through the apartment, so different from the chambers he had given up for Allura. It had been a rash decision, one made in the heat of the moment, but he didn’t feel right to evict her now. Besides he hoped it would work in his favor, his lingering presence inside those rooms a constant reminder to the girl of him.
He reached the door, Lotor pulling it open and stepping out into the hall. A pair of servants were just rounding the bend, pushing a covered cart towards him. Lotor hid a smile, realizing he had timed it just right, the prince walking the few feet that separated him from Allura. He would be arriving just a few seconds before their meal.
He could have walked right in, but he paused to knock on the door, waiting for Allura’s permission to enter. He heard her call out, voice growing louder as she drew nearer to the door.
“It’s me.” Lotor said, an instant before she opened the door. He inhaled at the sight of her, feeling as though she had stolen his breath away, and just with her smile alone. As dazzling as it was, her smile didn’t distract him from the rest of her, Lotor sweeping his eyes over her from head to toe and back again. She wore a knee length dress of pure white, splashes of pale purple on the hem, with matching sash around her waist. Translucent sleeves covered her arms, enough to warm her should she get a chill. “You look lovely.” He told her, voice betraying some of the heat he felt from looking at her.
Allura blushed, taking a step back so he could enter the room. “Thank you.”
Behind him came the wheels of the cart, the servants squeaking their way to the door. They hesitated just a moment, looking to Lotor for permission. He gave it to them, gesturing at the table in the outer room. “Set up there.” They nodded, and hurried towards the table, one servant pulling off the white clothe that covered the platters of food
“How are you?” Allura asked, her eyes full of concern. The servants worked in the background, plates being set down, light clinking sounds that served as background noise to their conversation.
“I’m fine.” Lotor assured her, a smile on his face. “The doctor was overly concerned simply because of who I am.” A light chuckle then, Lotor rueful as he shook his head. “I didn’t really need to spend the night in the hospital wing.” She seemed to accept that, nodding her head as some of the worry left her eyes. “My day wasn’t a total loss.” He continued, watching as the servants began piling portions of the meal onto the empty plates. “I managed to do some more planning for potential scenarios for during the war with Merla.”
“I see.” The deserts were left on the cart, the two servants bowing, waiting to be dismissed. He gave a curt gesture, the women straightening. “Thank you.” Allura called out after them, polite as ever to the help. Lotor already had hold of her arm, guiding her over to the table when the door closed. “It looks wonderful.” Allura commented, looking at the food spread across the table.
Indeed it did, Lotor’s mouth all but watering, hungry for something other than the stale meals of the hospital wing. “So how was your day?” Lotor asked, taking his seat next to her. “What has the wi—nursemaid been teaching you?”
“Haggar?” A smile lit up her face, Allura was surely the first person he had ever seen that was happy about spending time with the witch. “She has been teaching me how to mix potions. We spent the day making medicine that would dull aches and pains.” She looked at him shyly now, hesitating before speaking. “I wanted to know how to help treat a person beyond symptoms of pregnancy.”
Why was on the tip of his tongue, but he tempered the blunt question to a softer one. “Are you hoping to lend your skills to others?” She nodded, and he fought not to frown, wondering if he should have a talk with Haggar. Lotor knew he had expressed his concerns about Allura going down the path of the witch, and Haggar had assured him she had intended only to teach her the necessary magic to protect herself and the baby.
“After seeing you hurt by the monster….” Allura was speaking, drawing him from his worried thoughts. “I felt so helpless. I thought, if only there was something I could do to make you feel better…”
“Ah.” Some of his angry worry faded away, soothed by the fact that it was concern for him that had driven Allura to want to learn more of Haggar’s secrets.
“Haggar even let me keep one of the potions I made, in case you were still feeling bad.” Added Allura, looking expectantly at him.
“I’m fine.” He assured her, trying not to chuckle when she looked disappointed. He didn’t want to play guinea pig to the pair’s magical concoctions, but he thought it might almost be worth it if it kept Allura from looking so dejected, “I haven’t even been needing to rely on the doctor’s pain pills that much.”
“That’s good then.” Allura said, fork scooping up a small dab of potatoes.
“Very.” He agreed. “So that’s it then? No further progress in protection spells?”
“We’re still working on that.” Allura told him. “It’s a difficult process…not as easy as mixing potions and crushing herbs. But…Haggar says I am getting better at conjuring the energy needed for the spell.”
“Good.” Lotor nodded his approval. “I’ll be able to relax easier once you can use those spells.”
“Are Drule babies really that difficult to give birth to?” Her question made him still his hand, meat hanging precariously on the tines of his fork.
“Did Haggar tell you that?” His tone was mild, Lotor not wanting Allura’s head to be filled with worries about what could happen nine months from now.
“She may have mentioned one or two things.” Allura admitted, sheepish. “But it’s the way others act around me….as though they expect me to break at any moment.”
“I see.” Lotor paused, gathering his thoughts. “There is some concern since you are human. I’ve done some reading up on the matter, and Drule babies tend to be bigger than what a human is used to. They are a drain on the body, needing more care and sustenance than a human child would take, making you tire more easily and causing your appetite to grow by leaps and bounds.”
“Of course…..” He was quick to add. “I think our baby has a high success rate of being born without complication. He or she, is more human than Drule after all.” At this point Lotor was more worried about outside threats to Allura and the baby, but he didn’t want to tell her that.
“If….if the baby is more human, does that mean it won’t look like you?” Allura’s question had him shrugging, the prince unsure of what to tell her.
“I’m not really sure. It may look entirely Drule, or it may only have some of my characteristics. ” A faint smile, Lotor chuckling. “Either way, I doubt the baby would be able to pass as completely human.”
She said nothing to that, resuming her eating motions. Lotor mimicked her actions, savoring the taste of the meat, and pouring a generous amount of the sauce over the vegetables. He was bringing another bite to his lips, when Allura suddenly blurted out a question that nearly caused him to drop his fork.
“Will I get to hold my baby? Before…before I leave?”
Mouth an unhappy frown, he looked at her, Allura fidgeting before him. “Gods Allura, do you think me completely cruel? That I am so heartless as to deny you a chance to hold and look at your own child?!”
“No…I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to imply that!” She was upset now, and he found himself dropping his utensils to take hold of her hands. She didn’t resist him, letting the fork fall from her hand to land haphazardly on her plate.
“Allura, I wasn’t going to just ship you off the instant you popped out the baby. You can stay as long as you want, and the child won’t be barred access to you.” In fact, Lotor felt the more time she spent with the baby, the less she’d be willing to leave him.
“How will it happen?” She whispered, Lotor leaning closer to pick up her words. “When the times comes for me to leave?”
“I…I haven’t really given it that much thought.” It was a half life, Lotor spending far too many hours worrying about if Allura chose to leave him. He just hadn’t forged ahead with securing a new home for her yet.
“I see…” She bowed her head, hair falling forward to hide her expression from him. He wouldn’t let her, fingers reaching to touch her hair, when she suddenly spoke. “Are you even planning to really let me go?” His hand froze, Lotor staring at her, guilty shock on his face. “Or is it all just a game to you? Some cruel plot to give me hope, hope you will dash in a few months time?”
“I meant it when I said I would let you leave me.” Lotor said, unhappy that she would not believe his words. “I did not lie to you….now or then.” She continued to hide her face from him, Lotor reaching over to snag her chin. He was dismayed when he lifted her face up towards his, seeing the tears glistening in her eyes. “Allura…”
“It would be easier if you were lying.” She whispered, the first tear sliding down her cheek. “Then I wouldn’t have such a hard decision to make.”
“I won’t play the villain in this regard.” He told her, wanting nothing more than to wipe away her tears. “You’d never come to love me otherwise.”
“I don’t know if I will ever be able to give you what you want!” She cried out this time, tears falling faster. “I don’t know if I can love you…but…I love this child growing inside of me. How can I give it up in nine months time….how can I turn my back on it just for a chance at a new life.”
Lotor was banking on her not being able to do just that, the prince keeping silent. “It frightens me.” She confessed, sniffling. “I don’t want to be the kind of person who could be so selfish. I wish…I wish you didn’t love me. That you just tossed me aside, forgot about me. Then I wouldn’t have these feelings, these horrid, confusing emotions and I’d know what to do when the time comes for us to part!”
“Life’s choices are seldom easy…” Lotor told her, caressing her cheek now. “When you say emotions, what kind do you mean?”
“I…” She shrugged, either unable to explain, or unwilling to. That made his curiosity all the more stronger, Lotor gazing into her eyes, questioning her.
“I asked you once if you liked me….has the answer changed?” He saw her flush, the blush a sign of guilty admission, Allura lowering her eyes.
“Maybe….I don’t know.” She said, frustrated. “How can I like you?”
“How can you not?” He joked, pleased when some of the fire returned to her eyes.
“I’m serious! You’ve done so many things, horrible things, to me and to others. What kind of person am I, to harbor any positive emotions for you?” Allura demanded, and it was Lotor’s turn to shrug, at a loss for words. “You’ve raped me…” She said, Lotor feeling guilt surge through him. It was strange for him to feel bad about that, Allura had been nothing more than a slave at the time. It wasn’t a crime to rape one, in fact, it was expected behavior, especially when it came to slaves procured for pleasure. “And you’ve killed….you’ve probably done countless things I would be horrified by if I knew….”
“I’m not a nice person.” Agreed Lotor, hearing her sigh.
“But you could be.” She said, eyelids fluttering fast, spilling her tears. “I’ve seen you in these recent weeks, how different you are to me. I can’t help but think of what ifs, and the possibilities they hold.”
“That’s a fast way to drive yourself mad.” Lotor muttered, though he too had spent more than his fair share of time wondering on a what if or two where Allura was concerned.
“I know…” A dejected bow of her head, Allura’s voice whisper soft. “Why do you have to make things so complicated?!” She almost looked furious at that question, Lotor too surprised to say anything. “Why couldn’t you have been one or the other, good or bad. Why do you have to exist in the shadows of both?”
“It sounds like you have a lot to think about Allura.” Lotor said, resuming his caressing motion. “And know this…I promise you that I won’t make things easier when it comes to helping you to leave me. I can’t help but feel that would be a mistake, we would miss out on greatness if you were to leave.”
A sullen expression on her face, she just stared at him. Lotor sighed, brushing back the hair on her forehead. She stared unblinking as he leaned forward to press a kiss there, Lotor not quite smiling when he pulled back. “Ah….our meal is getting cold…” It didn’t really matter to him, and he had a hunch it didn’t to her either.
“I’m sorry…” She said, reaching for a napkin to dry her eyes.
“For what?” Lotor asked, curious.
“For…for being such a confused mess.” She explained, wiping at her cheeks now. He wasn’t sure what to say to that, and thankfully a knock sounded on the door, preventing him from having to come up with a retort.
“Excuse me.” Lotor said, rising to stand. She nodded, picking up her fork, actions listless as she pushed around her meal. The knock sounded again, more urgent in pitch, Lotor stifling irritation. He had given express orders that his meals with Allura were not to be disturbed unless there was an emergency going on. “What?” Lotor demanded, the door jerked open to reveal Cossak before him.
The commander’s eyes sparkled with excitement, he barely remembered to do a hasty bow before he was stepping into the room. “Prince Lotor, the first battle has started!”
Lotor did a slow blinking of his eyes, startled. “What? Now?”
“Yes, now!’ Cossack said, hurrying over to the corner of the room where the entertainment center sat. “Our armada encountered Merla’s just minutes ago in the Alpha Pi Quadrant near Planet Mindigula.” He was already lowering the view screen from the ceiling, his fingers flying over the controls of the unit’s console. “If we hurry we can catch the first shots fired.”
Lotor glanced at Allura, who was sitting there watching him. “Would you mind Allura?” Lotor asked, and she shook her head.
“No, not if it’s important.” Allura said, and he flashed a grateful smile to her.
“I’m getting in contact with the Annihilator.” Cossack named the flag ship Lotor had put in charge of the whole armada, the prince thinking of the stern faced Drule who commanded the seventy-ninth fleet of Doom. “They’ll be hanging back from the battle to relay your orders….”
Lotor closed the door, and joined Cossack before the screen, watching as it crackled to life, static snow being chased away to show the command deck of the Annihilator. Drule soldiers moved about the floor, hurrying back and forth on important tasks. Others sat down before computers, hands busy as they typed in commands. All around voices were heard, speaking on the ship’s condition, and tracking the enemies position.
In the command chair, sat the leader of the armada, the man a purple skinned Drule that looked almost black in the right light. He had no hair, bearing the stiff head ridges that some of the more lizard like Drules still retained. His eyes lighted on the monitor in front of him, giving a stiff bow from his chair. “Ah Prince Lotor, you’re just in time. The first of our armada is moving into position now.”
“General Duceit.” Lotor nodded his hellos, seeing the man glance at his injured arm. He held back from commenting, waiting for the prince to continue. “I trust you received my latest plans for the battle?”
“Yes, sire.” Duceit said, flashing a row of teeth in a pleased smile. “They arrived this morning, and I have been over them with the other generals. We won’t lose this battle, I assure you.”
“See that you don’t.” Lotor said, a threat in his voice. “Cossack, split the screen. I want to be able to see what is going on outside the ship.”
“Yes, your highness.” The commander said, fiddling with the controls. The screen split in half, the General’s face shoved to the side to make room for the crowed air space that surrounded Mindigula. The planet itself was large, a sickly yellow color with orange stripes around it, each one marking where poisonous pockets of gas lay in the atmosphere. Mindigula itself was part of the Doom Empire, and if anyone came to investigate the battle going on above the planet, they would be forced to fight in the name of Zarkon.
“There’s so many.” Allura had come closer to the screen, staring wide eyed at all the ships. Cossack flashed her a grin, nodding his agreement.
“We spared a lot of man power for this endeavor. The fleets number almost twenty-five on Doom’s side. No word yet on how many Merla has deployed.”
“It’s not a lot.” Lotor said, already trying to do a count of the ships on the Queen’s side. He could see Doom was overwhelming Merla’s armada by sheer number alone. “She’s either woefully unprepared, or she underestimated Doom’s power.”
“Eh, either way it means the battle will be over with all the faster.” Cossack said, unconcerned.
“It’s an insult.” Lotor muttered, wondering what Merla was thinking. “She knows what is riding on this. After we take care of her ships, our fleets will be moving on to her planet. Amazonia will be under siege until we can get to Merla herself.”
“Maybe she had second thoughts about fighting with us.” Suggested Cossack, smirking. “I know I would.”
“Anyone would at the sight of all those ships.” Murmured Allura, crossing her arms over her chest. She seemed to shiver in place, speaking softly as she watched the view screen. Lotor took a step towards her, placing a hand on her back, rubbing comfort into her skin. But his eyes were on the view screen, watching as ship after ship was deployed, millions of star cutters and other fighter craft taking up the space in front of the armada.
Merla’s ships were also popping out their fighters, the tiny ships buzzing free to take up position before the larger ships. Much of the battle would be fought by these small ships, the large one staying back to fire ion cannons and pulse beams at each other.
An explosion sounded, Lotor hearing Cossack swear up a blue streak of curse words. “Merla’s side just fired on one of the flag ships!”
“She’s wrong to think she will win this just on the first hit alone.” Lotor growled, and made an impatient wave of his hand. “General Duceit. Order the first wave of star cutters to attack!”
“Yes, sire.” Duceit said, raising his voice to the Drules seated below him. The orders were quickly communicated to the star cutters, the small ships suddenly breaking position to fly towards Merla’s armada. There was a brief hesitation from the Queen’s side, and then her ships were on the move, hurrying forward to engage Doom’s. The darkness of space was broken up with the light of a million lasers, reds and greens bouncing back and forth, explosions sounding as ships were hit, disabled, or even completely destroyed.
The camera spun around dizzily, trying to track the fight, but at times all they could see was the lasers flying free and wild. In the background of the Annihilator, voices were giving reports, men speaking on their star cutter’s conditions, boasting of victorious, or even letting out their dying scream. Allura seemed to tremble even more, Lotor wrapping his arms around her as he stood silent, watching the battle.