Slave 066

Standing with a remote in one hand, Prince Lotor gazed at the view screen, gritting his teeth together as he got his first look at the armada Merla had sent to his home world. It was impressive, composed of several dozen fleets, all flag ships, carriers, defenders and destroyers. Already the bee hive shaped carriers were releasing smaller fighter craft into the sky, the ships looking tiny next to their large brethren.

They hovered at the front of the armada, eager for a fight and ready to press forward against the fleets of Doom. Those Doom craft were quick, making their ascent into space as fast as they could manage. And still it had taken several hours for them to achieve that height, leaving Lotor impatient and antsy as he waited for the true battle to begin.

The Doom fleet hosted it’s own impressive array of ships, although they looked woefully outnumbered next to the showing that Merla had gathered for her armada. It was nothing like the number of ships Merla had presented them with at planet Mindigula. Here they had come to play, serious and deadly in their intent. They didn’t even wait for the Doom fleet to start releasing their star cutters, already opening fire as the Doom space craft tried to take up positions in space.

Lotor supposed there was a plus side to the fighting, with Merla’s forces otherwise occupied, the bombing of the planet’s surface had all but stopped. A few stray ships remained, Doom chasing after them, bringing them down with lasers. They tried to take down the bombers as far away from the cities and the castle as they could, but one such ship had crashed into the heart of the city, exploding on impact and taking out several buildings close by. The tally of lives lost had yet to be found, Mayor Grizzwrd’s forces working desperately to put out the fires and get the Drule citizens to the nearest hospitals.

The mayor was keeping Lotor up to date on the damages, along with information on the shielding malfunction, and what they were trying to do to get it working once more. Lotor had a feeling it wouldn’t be any time soon before the shield was activated, having had reports from Cossack that similar problems were being experienced all over the planet.

He had yet to hear from his father, Zarkon secloistered in the castle as always, doing what Lotor did not know. It was troubling, this lack of communication, as though the King did not care to be bothered by what was occurring on his very doorstep. But as always, Lotor assumed his father was counting on him to clean up this mess. Lotor was doing his best to do just that, although it would take time and effort. Time he feared Doom did not have, though he had already given Cossack the command to order back their fleets from Portupia, Veneg, and Somenia. Those three planets would get a reprieve from Doom’s attempt at invading their worlds, though Lotor knew his father would be furious about that.

Commands had also been sent as far as Mindigula, and though it would take about a week for the ships to return from that planet, Doom would do it’s best to hold off Merla for as long as they could. Lotor wondered where the Queen was. If she was watching the fight from the safety of her home world, or if she dared to board one of the flag ships herself.

Apparently Cossack was wondering the same thing, his voice coming over the view screen to ask the question out loud. “You think the Queen is with those ships?”

“I’ve no idea Cossack.” Lotor said, eyes intent on the battle before him. Although the view screen’s monitor showed the space above planet Doom, it’s audio was tuned to both the castle and to the flag ship that was in charge of all twelve fleets. Lotor’s commands would be heard and obeyed, Cossack and General Zyvek quick to relay them to the proper subordinates.

“It would make things easier if she was.” Lotor continued, a grim look on his face. “Then we could just blow her up along with her armada.” He kept silent about the fact that once the battle was ended, they’d still have to track Merla down. Lotor had a feeling that so long as she was kept alive, she’d keep coming back, so like a ghoul dog with a bone, refusing to give up on her revenge.

Cossack had long since stopped asking about their chances, keeping his thoughts private on Doom being outnumbered so badly. General Zyvek also learned not to voice his doubts, putting on a show of bravery when facing what could not only be his defeat, but ultimately his death at Amazonia’s hands. Lotor could hear the general’s voice, the man issuing orders and responding to things said by his crew.

Doom was hastily working to unleash their star cutters on the fighter craft of their enemies, their hanger bay doors opening, row after row of ships speeding out into the sky. The blackness of space was broken up by the colors of lasers, reds and yellows from Amazonia’s side, greens and blues from Doom’s. Ships were exploding, pilot’s live expended in an instant, the men and women not even getting a chance to properly fight for their planets.

A large Doom defender was moving into place, trying to take the brunt of attack from the fighter craft, so that more star cutters could be released. It’s shielding flickered and wavered, lasers crashing into it’s side. Even with the shielding down, it would take a while to disable a Doom defender, the ship being made to withstand almost any kind of attack.

“General Zyvek, have you any strange readings coming from the enemy armada?” Lotor asked, glancing at the rear guard of the Amazonia side. He could see nothing unusual, but his every instinct told him they had at least one of that ultimate weapon of theirs, mounted on a flag ship.

“No sire. Everything reads normal.” The General answered, and Lotor hissed out a warning.

“Be on guard though. Their weapon takes a while to charge up, but is incredibly powerful. When energy readings start exceeding expectation, you’ll have to divert all your power to your shielding.”

“Understood Prince Lotor.” General Zyvek said, and began relaying the orders to the other flag ships.

More star cutters were freed from the carriers, the ships quick to engage Merla’s. The guards in the room let out excited murmurs, Lotor listening to them as they speculated on the outcome of the battle. No one, not even a single guard, wished to be up in space fighting at such uneven odds. Lotor couldn’t help but turn towards them, the glare on his face making them fall silent.

He preferred it quiet, wanting no distractions from the battle, and the commands he must think of. It was for that reason he had allowed his host, the owner of the mansion to take Allura out of the room. The green skinned Drule, a noble by the name of Petrack, was a talkative type, the more nervous he was made to feel, the more conversation flowed out of him.

It had grated on Lotor’s nerves, the prince almost losing what little patience he had left. Allura had surely recognized the look in his eyes, meekly interrupting to say she was hungry. Concern for her distracted him from bellowing at Petrack, Lotor deciding that the noble, along with two guards as accompaniment, would take Allura to the mansion’s kitchen. It would serve more than one purpose, feeding Allura, but also allowing her to avoid watching the battle.

She was still so sensitive to violence, and Lotor knew this battle would only get worse as time passed. He held back his sigh, knowing he shouldn’t show his discontent to his men during a battle. One last glare at his guards, and then he was turning back to the view screen. Most of the carrier’s had released their burdens, thousands of fighter craft hovering in the sky.

Lotor knew if he was to step outside the mansion, and peer up at the sky, he’d only see the barest hint of the battle going on. Lights streaking across the sky, and the occasional piece of burning wreckage as it made it’s slow descent towards the planet. Doom itself would be covered in wreckage, both on the ground and floating in it’s air space. It would take months to clean away the remains of destroyed ships, several million credits lost in the process.

He’d feel better about the situation if he was at the castle, knowing as long as the witches were powering the shields, the falling pieces of metal could not harm him or Allura. Cossack was currently trying to get another witch to accompany Haggar into the city, two’s magic being needed to create a shielding over the transport that would take them to and from the castle.

Still it would take some time, Lotor wondering if the next day was too soon to hope for an evacuation to the castle. The mansion itself was crawling with refuges, Drule citizens that had fled inside it’s walls during the bombing. The explosions may have all but stopped, but it still wasn’t completely safe to leave. Not with fires raging in the heart of the city. The people here had to decide which was the better course for them. To remain in one spot and hope none of the battle touched them here in the mansion, or to choose to make their way back to their own homes and wait out the fighting there.

So far no one had left, choosing to throw in their lot with Lotor and his men. Guards who were currently letting out an oooh of displeasure at the way a Doom carrier exploded into a millions pieces at the firing blasts of an Amazonian Destroyer. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big loss, all the star cutters having already been released. At best, only a skeleton crew of Doom soldiers would have been left behind to pilot the carrier, the ship having minimal defense and attack functions.

But still it grated on Lotor’s nerves to see one of the bigger ships destroyed, hating that Merla was so far winning in the game of how many ships had been wrecked. He let out a curt command, ordering one of Doom’s destroyers to work on blasting down the defensive shield of a nearby Amazonia devastator. A small platoon of star cutters accompanied the destroyer, working on the large ship. The devastators had little in the way of defense, only a flimsy energy shield and the fighter craft that surrounded it. It wouldn’t take much to bring down those shields, but what it lacked in defense, it made up for in artillery, firing again and again on Doom ships.

Star cutters flew in close, evading the lasers and missiles, and shooting down forward gun turrets. Once disabled, they were able to move on, taking out the middle laser ports, leaving only the rear guard missile holders. It left the behemoth of a ship floating in space, dead weight that was quick to be blown apart by the Doom destroyer.

Lotor heard his guards cheering, the prince hiding a smile to see Doom scoring a blow on Amazonia’s side. The tiny fighter craft were small fry, inconsequential insects that were easily crushed on both sides of the battle. The big ships were where true victory lied, and for every one they could take down, the closer Doom would draw to winning this battle.

He wasn’t sure how long he had been watching the battle, when a cry of alarm came from the channel that connected him with General Zyvek’s ship. “Zyvek, report!” Lotor growled, listening to the Drules as they shouted, and busied themselves with running to command stations.

“We’re getting an unusual reading from one of the flag ships.” Zyvek said. “No! Make that two!”

“Damn it, get your shields up at once!” Lotor snarled, gesturing wildly with his arm. The action hurt his injured shoulder, Lotor biting back a hiss of pain at the reminder of his recent injury.

“Already on it.” The General confirmed, and everyone in the room seemed to hold their breath as a golden beam shot forward, past the scattering Amazonian fighter craft, to disintegrate Doom star cutters and ships alike. Including the one Zyvek was on, Lotor hearing the pained screams of his general and his men. For a second nothing was heard, and then the awfully screeching static of a radio destroyed came over the airwaves, Lotor fighting the urge to clamp his hands over his ears.

“Commander Cossack, report!”

“”Zyvek’s ship has been completely destroyed!” Cossack shouted to be heard over the screeching of the destroyed radio, a kind of panicked excitement in his voice. “Two of the surrounding ships have been disabled, but can still maintain altitude. The rest just narrowly missed getting hit by that beam.”

Lotor knew his lips were pursed together, a look of disgust on his face. “Put me in contact with General Altidavis. He’s next in line to command our fleets.”

“Yes, sire.” The screeching of the destroyed radio died down, the castle technicians working to open a channel for Lotor to Altidavis’ ship. Lotor tapped his fingers impatiently on the side of the remote, waiting to hear the man’s voice.

“Prince Lotor..” Altidavis had a gravelly sounding voice, even more so in the wake of their lose.

“Ah General. You’re in command now. Don’t disappoint me.” Lotor said, and the man made an agreeing noise. “I want you to track down where the beams came from. Send in our ships to destroy those weapons of theirs.”

“Yes, your highness.” Lotor gave him a moment of silence so the general could relay those orders.

“Have our fleets move in closer to the enemy armada.” Lotor continued, watching as star cutter and fighter crafts once again engaged each other in battle. “If we stick close to the big ships, they may not open fire with that weapon again. It’d be too risky…” But he wondered if Merla in her desire for revenge, would destroy her own ships to get to him.

He was thinking on hiring his own assassins to send after the queen when he heard it. Faintly, almost drowned out by the sounds of the battle on the view screen, but unmistakably as anything else but people shouting. Lotor lowered the volume on the view screen, a frown on his face as he turned to glance at his guards. They appeared as puzzled as he, one daring to shrug at his quizzical look.

“What’s going on?” Lotor wondered out loud, realizing the shouting was coming from somewhere in the mansion. “What are they saying?” It was too low to make out words, but he could gather the emotion behind the shouts. Anger. It made him uneasy, and Lotor gestured at his men to follow him when another scream was heard.

“Allura!” Lotor shouted, recognizing that feminine voice. He threw the remote on the floor as he ran, charging the door of the room. One of the guards reached it first, and flung it open for him, Lotor barreling past him and out into the hall. Here the shouting was louder, people arguing and swearing in Drule. He could almost make out what was being said, catching the words troublesome slave and war starter amidst the shouting voices.

His eyes widened, Lotor having a sneaking suspicion that the people staying in this mansion had realized who Allura was. He began running down the corridor, following the voices, listening to the sound of his men chasing after him.

“It’s her! It’s her!” Screamed a woman, her voice screeching out one accusation after another. “It’s her fault that this war happened!”

“It’s that slave! The one the prince killed for!” A man snarled.

“If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be in this mess!” Another man shouted. “My wife wouldn’t have died in the bombing!”

Lotor winced at that, knowing if Allura was following what the Drules were saying, she would surely be in pain. She hated the war, hated that lives were being lost, and to have these people blame her for it and it’s causalities would hurt her. Hurt her almost as much as whatever they were doing that made his beloved scream again.

The sound of her scream made Lotor put on a burst of speed, the prince turning a corner and coming into a large common place area. He almost didn’t see Allura amidst all the Drules, his people towering over her so that she was dwarfed by their height. It was actually Petrack and his guards that he spotted first, standing with Allura huddled behind them, the girl trapped between a soldier’s back and the rear wall of the room.

“If we give her to the Queen, this war will be ended!” Someone screamed, and another took up the chant.

“Let’s kill her and hand her body over to the Queen!” That suggestion was met with cheers of approval, several Drule males fighting with the guards, trying to reach Allura.

“Kill her!”

“End this war!”

“ENOUGH!” Lotor roared, his voice a powerful growl that had the people gasping in fright. “Stop this foolishness at once!” He nodded at his guards, who began pushing their way into the crowd, trying to clear a path for Lotor to reach Allura. “Have all of you gone mad?”

At first no one said anything, cowed into silence by their prince’s angry glower. Then, an old woman spoke up, gripping her cane tight as she matched the prince’s glare with one of her own. “It’s true isn’t it? She is the slave you risked everything for.”

“Who she is or isn’t does not matter to the likes of you!” Lotor retorted, stalking into the crowd. Two guards were at his back, ready should the crowd try to cause any more problems.

“We have a right to know!” The old woman shouted, and others let out agreeing cries. “We’ve been plunged into war with an ally. A war you started by trying to protect her!”

“It was unavoidable!” Lotor snapped, almost to the wall. He couldn’t see much of Allura, the girl covered by one of his soldiers. “Queen Merla is too power hungry to be satisfied with ruling over just Amazonia. She was just waiting for an excuse to fight with Doom.”

“An excuse you gave her!” Someone pointed out.

Lotor ignored that, trying for a different tactic. “I understand you are all frightened by what is going on. In light of recent events I cannot blame you. But know this, Doom will be victorious as always. The queen will be beaten and killed, and peace will be restored to the planet.”

“It could be a lot sooner if we gave her what she wanted.” Someone muttered, Lotor turning to glare in the direction of that voice. But he couldn’t figure out who had said that, Lotor growling as he reached the wall.

“We will not be handing over any slaves to Queen Merla.” Lotor told them, and gestured for the soldier to move away from Allura. She looked smaller than he remembered, the girl having plastered herself against the wall. Her blue eyes were wide with fright, and she was trembling once more. On her cheek was the hint of a darkening bruise, Lotor feeling murderous to see it.

“Allura…” He held out a hand to her, the girl staring at it for one moment. And then she was reaching for it, her grasp shaky as she held onto his hand. Lotor wanted nothing more than to smile reassuringly at her, but knew it would be taken as a sign of weakness to show kindness at this time. Instead he whispered to her in Arusian, not quite cooing about how she would be safe now that he was here.

She merely nodded in understanding, clinging gratefully to his hand as Lotor began leading her back the way they had come. His men surrounded them, and the people in the room continued to mutter their discontentment over the war. They were almost to the doorway of the room, when someone shouted out an insult.

“Prince’s whore!” An object went sailing through the air, a bright orange fruit smashing into Lotor’s back. People seemed to go silent at that, shocked that someone had dared strike out at the prince.

Lotor stiffened, feeling the fruit slide down his back, a mess of juice and pulp. He was all too calm as he drew his sword, the lazon humming in the air. Allura had turned, and though he knew she wouldn’t know what that phrase meant, she was horrified to see him struck by one of his own people.

“Lotor no…” She started to say, but he was already diving into the crowd, plunging his sword straight into the chest of the man who had thrown the fruit. Lotor had spotted him out the corner of his eye, standing there with the bright orange fruit in hand. The man’s body made a satisfying squelching sound when Lotor jerked the sword out of his chest, a vicious smile on his face.

“Striking your prince for any reason is a crime punishable by death.” Lotor informed the horrified Drules, shoving at the body with his other hand. The people quickly scattered, not wanting to have the body land on them. Instead it smashed into the floor, blood beginning to pool out onto the carpet. The noble Petrack was too stunned to moan about his expensive carpet being ruined, staring with huge eyes at his prince.

“Come Allura.” Lotor said, and took her unresisting hand with his. He left his sword unsheathed, stalking from the room. He paused only long enough to give an order to his guards. “I want you to remove all this rabble from this building. If they want to riot, let them do it out on the streets.” He heard the agreeing sounds from his men, and the protesting shouts from the gathered crowd of people but Lotor didn’t turn back, nor did he change his mind. A lesson needed to be taught, and what better way then to leave them out on the streets where anything could happen.

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