If you read 64, you might want to reread it again. I went and change some stuff near the end of it.
He had had only seconds to react, Lotor spying the red lights, and realizing what they were an instant before they began exploding. He moved on pure instinct, hearing his communicator crush under his boots as he lunged towards Allura, arms seizing her around the waist. She was too startled to ask a proper question, shocked sounds escaping her as Lotor threw them both towards the ground.
He turned halfway, maneuvering them so that he hit the cobblestones back first, Allura being cushioned against his body. Before she could recover from the fall, Lotor was rolling them over, the prince pinning the girl beneath him so that his body covered hers. They only had a few moments to stare at each other before several of their escort lunged towards the prince and his companion. The men dove to cover Lotor and Allura with their bodies, burying them under the heavy muscled frames of Drules, trying to protect them as best they could.
It left Lotor and Allura with nothing to do but listen to the sounds of the sky bombs as they exploded, the noise distant but growing closer as ships flew across the sky of Doom, dropping the deadly explosives. They didn’t seem to care where they dropped them, or who they hit, the explosives raining downwards, coming ever closer to the housing district of the city.
Panicked screams could be heard, people fleeing the deadly air raid, trying to make it to the closest shops, or homes of their friends. Many were left out on the street, shouting and begging, praying to their Gods as they dove under cruisers for protection. It was sheer and utter pandemonium, and Lotor knew that unless they could get inside a building, they were sitting targets for the bombs.
“Move!” Lotor shouted at the guards on top of him, hearing one offer a protest. “Damn it I said move! That’s a direct order!”
They were reluctant, but moved quick enough to obey him, rolling off of the prince and Allura. One soldier offered his hand to Lotor, a gesture he ignored as he pulled Allura to her feet. She was paler than he could ever recall seeing her, her blue eyes wide with fright. He could feel the tremors shaking Allura’s body, the prince tucking her close against him as he all but lifted her up off the ground.
“This way!” Lotor shouted, already leading the way as he ran past panicking Drule citizens. He could see some of them attempting open the gates of one of the mansions, the heavy iron fences groaning in protest as it gave way under the combined strength of several Drule males. They ran into the courtyard, unaware the prince and his escort was hot on their heels, the panicked people converging on the mansion, banging on the doors, and attempting to break open the windows.
All around them, explosions could be heard, tiny bits of shrapnel flying through the air, striking them all in various places. Lotor himself sustained a cut on his shoulder, the shirt tearing as shrapnel embedded itself into his muscle. He ignored the pain, still holding onto Allura, making sure she stayed next to him as he ran towards the mansions’ door.
At one point he heard her cry out during a barrage of shrapnel, but there was no time to stop and check on her. They all had wounds to tend too, and right now the issue of getting a roof over their heads was more important than anything else.
“Get those doors opened!” Lotor ordered, gesturing his men to join the group of civilians who were currently ramming the entrance doorway of the mansion. The double doors were holding for the moment, leaving Lotor to wonder if they had been braced with something on the inside. People were still screaming, some frightened, some angry as they demanded entrance to the building.
Muffled answers could be heard, the Drules inside refusing to open their doors to the panicked crowds. Lotor stayed close to the wall, huddling Allura against his chest as he eyed the people trying to break open the windows. Another explosion occurred, so close to the building that the windows all broke at once, glass being shattered into tiny shards and glittering steel powder.
Most people stood there stunned, deafened for the moment from the recent explosion. Lotor didn’t allow his wits to scatter, scooping Allura up in his arms, and charging the nearest window. Jagged edges of glass remained, forcing him to carefully maneuver Allura through it’s frame. She whimpered but made it through, Lotor spying hints of blood on the glass, and wondering if it was his or Allura’s that stained the remains.
The others had realized the windows were their opening into the mansion, crowding in close and pushing impatiently at each other. Lotor quickly scrambled up and over the ledge of the window, finding no time to pause and check out the surroundings as someone dared to lay hands on his rear, shoving him out of the way. He recovered enough to land on his knees, quickly straightening to a standing position.
The nobles who lived in this mansion were well off, able to hire guards who ran into the room now, weapons drawn to attack the intruders. Lotor fixed them with his best glare, striding towards Allura, confidant they would recognize him. Behind came the sounds of people landing inside the room, gasps of dismay as they noticed the armed guards.
“Stand down at once!” Lotor snarled, his hand hovering towards the hilt of his sword. They didn’t even hesitate, several fixing the barrels of their blasters in Lotor’s direction. He drew in a sharp hiss, displeased at the threat, golden eyes narrowing in annoyance. “Don’t you know who I am?” Lotor demanded, his fingers closing around his sword. He saw them began to pull back the trigger, intent on stopping him before he could pull his sword out of his sheathe.
“Stop!” A voice cried out, even as Lotor draw his sword, the lazon humming to life amidst gasps. They may not have recognized him, but they knew enough to know the sword meant this was someone high ranking indeed, who had intruded into their employer’s home. The voice cried out again, even as a few of the guards let off a round of lasers, Lotor twirling his sword before himself, deflecting the bolts.
The lasers zig zagged their way back towards the senders, two men being hit square in the chest, flying backwards off their feet to slam into the floor. The third ducked just in time, the laser going over his head to smash into a crystal vase. It shattered into pieces, the pleading voice moaning about the cost. Lotor didn’t care about the damage done, at last reaching Allura’s side. She was still kneeling on the floor, and though he couldn’t see her face, he knew she had to be just as frightened inside the mansion as she had been outside it.
“Anyone else dare fire at me?” demanded Lotor, and now the mysterious voice’s owner stepped into view, hurrying between Lotor and the guards. Lotor got a view of an aging Drule, whose scaled skin was beginning to bare the sign of wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. What little hair he had left was a graying black, tied back with a silk ribbon. The sides of his head was bare, only the top formed a thick stripe of hair over dark green skin.
Lotor felt this man was familiar, but for the life of him couldn’t recall his name. He was too agitated and concerned about the bombs to wonder if he had seen this noble at court before.
“Don’t shoot!” The green skinned Drule ordered, gesturing wildly for the guards to lower their weapons. “Don’t you know who this is?” The guards looked hesitantly at the Drule, one openly shrugging as an answer. “It’s the crown prince you idiot!” That surprised them, the men clearly not expecting Doom Royalty to be breaking into anyone’s home in this manner.
“Prince Lotor…” The Drule turned to him, bowing so low his hair almost touched the floor. “Forgive my men for their rude greeting of you. If I had known sooner it was you at my door, I wouldn’t have hesitated to let you in.”
“Good to know.” Lotor said, at last sheathing his sword. “There will be no further objections to opening your doors to allow my men inside your home?”
The noble’s eyes widened, he began stuttering out an answer. “I have no problem with your men coming inside, but what do we do about these others who have forced their way into my home?” His question was punctuated by the sound of another explosion, the building seeming to shake in it’s very foundation in the process.
“Let them be for now.” Lotor was bending over to help Allura stand, the girl seeming unsteady on her feet. She reached around his waist with her arms, Allura all but clinging to Lotor for support. “They merely want a place of refuge from the bombing.”
“But that could be days, weeks….I don’t have the provisions to cater to a bunch of refuges!” The noble protested, even as the other Drules began murmuring angrily at his words. The air became thick with tense atmosphere, and only the sight of the nobles armed guards kept the upset citizens from attacking him.
“We will make do with what you have!” Lotor’s voice roared over the buzz of the angry citizens, and even Allura flinched back from his shout. “Now I need you to show me to a private room, one that has a working holo and a med kit.”
The green skinned noble was clearly unhappy about being ordered around, his lips pursing together in disapproval. “Fine….come this way….I’ll leave my men to deal with these…citizens.”
“Whatever makes you feel better.” Lotor said, pausing to pick up Allura so that she needn’t step on any of the broken pieces of glass that littered the room’s floor. Carrying his beloved, he hurried after the noble, stepping into the hallway that led past the main entranceway of the mansion. A large iron bar was slid into place over the doors, cracks appearing in it’s surface from the weight of the Drules who had tried to force the door open. The noble let out a curt command, and the slaves were quick to obey, laboring to lift the bar.
Almost immediately, the doors swung open, the people who had not yet gotten a chance to climb through the windows, rushing into the foyer. Lotor caught the eye of his general, giving a jerk with his head that was a silent command for his men to follow him. The soldiers that made up the prince’s escort pushed their way through the crowd, to follow on Lotor’s heels.
The noble was waiting at the end of the hall, practically vibrating in place with nervous energy as he wrung his hands together. “This way your highness!” He waved them closer, Lotor relieved to see he was avoiding the staircase. The way the building shook whenever a bomb went off too near to it, Lotor did not want to risk being on the second floor.
Eventually they reached a room, windowless and in the center of the mansion. The lamps rattled in place whenever a bomb went off, but otherwise the room was in good condition. Lotor carried Allura over to the couch, setting her down carefully on the cushions. He caught sight of her face, biting back a hiss to see a jagged cut on her forehead, blood dripping just over her left eye.
“When did this happen?” He whispered, using his thumb to smear some of the blood before it could hit her eye. Allura opened her mouth to speak, but he quickly shushed her. “Tell me later.”
He straightened, and began barking out orders. “Get a hold of Cossack immediately. I want to hear from him just what is happening! And get the mayor of the city on another channel. I want answers as to why the city’s protective shielding hasn’t yet been activated!”
“Yes, your highness.” The guards who hadn’t taken up position by the doors, hurried over to the holo unit, fingers quick and nimble as one solider inputted the codes for the castle. As the call was being put through, another was being made, this time to information to inquire of the mayor’s number, so they could contact him directly about what was being done to protect the city.
The noble was standing too close for Lotor’s liking, the prince all but snarling out an order to him. “Get me that med kit!”
“Yes, your highness!” He didn’t even pause to watch the Drule scamper off, turning back to Allura.
“Poor thing…” He murmured kindly, brushing back her hair off her shoulders. She was staring wide eyed at him, visibly trembling in place. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for things to turn out this way.” He dropped to his knees so that he needn’t keep bending over her, fingers touching her face gently.
“What’s going to happen Lotor?” Allura asked, her voice whisper soft. “Are we going to die here?”
“No! No…” He repeated, trying to sound calm. “It’s merely a set back. We’ll beat back Merla’s forces, and return to the castle all in due time. I promise you, things will go back to normal soon enough.” Lotor knew he would sound more convincing if his words weren’t on the heels of another explosion that shook the very house they hid in.
“Why is she doing this?” Allura wanted to know, looking close to tears. “Why is she attacking innocent people to get to us?”
“Because….” Lotor hesitated, and Allura touched his uninjured shoulder.
“Please…I need to know…”
“It’s a war tactic. She hopes to take the fight out of us and our people. But also….she may be banking on scaring the populace to the point they turn on the ruling class.” Lotor explained. “If she can upset them enough to grow angry over this war, they might hand over the kingdom to Merla. If we had to waste resources to subdue the citizens of Doom, well…it would leave our forces divided. She might be able to win if we had to concentrate not only on fighting her forces, but fighting our own people.”
“It’s awful!” Allura exclaimed, one eye squinted shut to keep the blood out of it. “Why is she here? I thought you said the fighting wouldn’t happen anywhere near Doom? That it would take place on Amazonia!”
“It’s what I believed at the time.” The noble had returned with the med kit, Lotor snatching it from him. Snapping the lid open, he began rifling through it’s contents, picking out gauze and an antibacterial cream. He began dabbing at the bleeding cut with cotton, speaking as he busied himself with stopping the bleeding. “We won the battle over Mindigula. By all rights, the next battle should have taken place over Amazonia.” He left off the part about how it should be Doom bombing Amazonia, and not the other way around.
“So what happened?” Allura asked, pressing a clean piece of cotton into place over her cut.
“That’s what I intend to find out…” His tone was grim, Lotor squeezing cream onto his fingers. He ignored the pain in his shoulder to tend to Allura, chasing her hand away to rub the cream into her small cut. “I’m sorry…”
“For what?” She was wincing, as though the cream burned her when it touched the cut.
“We won’t be able to go see that performance after all.” True regret was in his voice, Lotor having looked forward to seeing Allura’s reaction to the play.
“It’s all right.” She assured him, letting him cover the cut with gauze, the prince winding it in place several times around her head. “Right now defending your planet is more important than a play.”
“I should have known you’d be so understanding.” Lotor smiled at her, setting the remaining bits of gauze down inside the med kit. He wiped the remains of the cream on his knee, the fabric of his pants soaking it up. “We’ll go see the play when all of this is over with. I promise.”
“All right…” Allura nodded, not quite smiling as he straightened up. He touched her cheek one last time, fingers wanting to linger in place. But he knew he had duties to attend of, Lotor striding over to the holo unit. It was split down the middle, Cossack standing on one side of the screen, the mayor of the city on the other. Both were currently facing someone off screen, each man relaying orders to their subordinates.
“Gentleman.” Lotor said, holding up his hand for silence. Cossack looked ready to scream, the commander impatient to fill Lotor in on all that had transpired so recently. But first Lotor intended to speak with the mayor, letting his eyes fill with annoyance as he looked at the Drule. His head was bald, covered in the thick head ridges of the more lizard like Drules.
“Tell me Mayor Grizzwrd. Just why haven’t you raised the shielding of the city? The people are in a panicked frenzy, a panic that could have been avoided if you would simply do your job correctly!”
Grizzwrd looked chagrined, fists clenching at his sides. “Prince Lotor, I apologize, but this current crisis is not my fault. Something is jamming the shielding transmission, preventing us from enabling our protective barrier.”
“Then I suggest you get to work on finding a way around this nuisance, and get the shielding up before I lose my temper.” Lotor retorted. “Otherwise it will be you out on the streets with the panicked people and bombs going off all around you.”
“You’re asking for the impossible!” Grizzwrd exclaimed, facial tics flashing. “Prince Lotor, I am doing my best, trying to maintain calm for the city, but so long as they continue to bomb us, and the shield remains jammed, there is little else I can do!”
“Excuses are not what I want to hear.” Lotor snapped, folding his arms over his chest. “I demand results. It’s your job to give them to me!”
Grizzwrd looked about ready to sigh, mouth opening to issue another protest. Lotor raised his hand, his guard cutting off the transmission before the mayor could finish his sentence. Cossack filled the whole of the screen now, and even impatient as he was to tell Lotor everything he knew, he paused long enough to ask the following question.
“Are you sure that’s wise, hanging up on the mayor like that?”
“It may motivate him to work harder on the problem at hand knowing I refuse to listen to any more of his excuses. Now Commander, just what is happening in the skies above us?”
“It’s Merla’s forces.” Cossack confirmed what Lotor already knew, the commander looking angry. “It’s a whole new armada, different from the one our forces engaged at planet Mindigula. Larger, it’s nearly quadruple the size of that pitiful showing Amazonia had at the first battle.”
“But where did they come from?” Lotor wanted to know. “Why did our forces not encounter them when they tried to pass Mindigula?”
“Ah that’s the thing. They completely bypassed planet Mindigula.” Cossack’s eyes were wide with amazement. “It seems they took the long way to Doom, must have taken them nearly three weeks to travel this far in so short a time. If anything, the small armada our forces encountered at Mindigula was a trick. An illusion to make us think we had won.”
Lotor was growling at that, fingers clenching into tight fists, his nails drawing his blood. “That damn bitch! She outmaneuvered us this time!”
“Yeah but…She’s still got the war to win.” Cossack reminded him. “Just because it’s taken place in Doom air space, doesn’t mean we’ll lose.”
“We won’t.” Lotor said, mustering up all his confidence. “Has the twelve remaining fleets taken off yet to engage Merla’s in battle?”
“Yes, sire! The explosive air raids should stop soon. They won’t be able to maintain bombing the planet surface and fight with our fleet at the same time. But Prince Lotor…” Cossack was hesitating, even as Lotor nodded at him to continue.
“Go on Commander, I can handle whatever it is you’re about to say.”
“Well…It’s just that….with only twelve fleet left behind….we can only delay her from landing her ships on Doom’s surface. We need outside help, and fast!” Cossack exclaimed.
“We’ll get it.” Promised Lotor. “I want you to call back the fifteen fleets we sent on to Mindigula. They along, with the remaining ships of our armada stationed there are to head back to Doom.”
“That will take at least a week….Do you think our forces will be able to hold her off that long?” fretted Cossack.
“They’ll have too. We can also call in help from our men stationed on nearby planets. We’ll give that bitch Merla the fight she’s clamoring for.” Cossack couldn’t even muster up a grin at Lotor’s words, looking far too tense and unrelaxed.
“There’s something else…she’s managing somehow to jam the cities’ shields. The castle is okay, but only because our witches are working their magic to allow the shielding to turn on. They’re working in shifts, so as not to drain themselves completely of their magic.” Cossack explained, looking worried. “It be best if you and Allura got back to the castle. We can’t protect you out in the city.”
“Don’t worry Cossack. As soon as it’s safe enough to travel, we will return to the castle.” Promised Lotor.
“Maybe we can send out Haggar and another witch to maintain a private shielding on a transport.” Suggested Cossack. “Then you could come home sooner.”
“An excellent idea commander.” Lotor nodded. “See that you get that under way as soon as it’s feasible.”
“Yes, sire.” Cossack nodded, hand brushing back his hair. “Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll have the witches over there in no time, and get you to back to the castle.. You just take care of Allura and the baby. Keep them safe in the meantime.”
“I will commander, count on it.” Lotor said, already turning from the holo to glance at Allura. She sat huddled on the couch, med kit next to her. She seemed to sense Lotor’s eyes on her, Allura raising her head to lock gazes with him. He smiled at her, hoping to set her at ease, relieved when she didn’t burst into frightened tears. ~Right.~ He thought, slowly walking towards the couch where Allura sat. ~How hard can it be to keep her safe?~
The explosion that shook the room, and nearly knocked Lotor off his feet, had him rethinking that thought. He hoped to any God that was listening that the Doom fleets would soon reach the altitude of Merla’s armada, and put an end to the bombing. Maybe then he and Allura would make it through the following hours in one piece!