The door had barely clicked closed, and already he could feel Allura tugging to get her hand free of his. It made him want to tighten his grip, Lotor not wanting to let go of Allura. But something told him that that would be a bad idea, the prince noting that some color had returned to her face. Albeit it was more green then red, the girl looking uneasy and ill.
At the relaxing of his grip, she went running, scampering across the room towards the doorway that led into the bathroom. The door had barely swung close, and already he could hear the muffled sound of her illness, the girl vomiting what little she had eaten on this day. Lotor sighed, glancing down at his sword, the blade bloodless due to the lazon burning up the liquid before it could stain.
Even without the blood as a reminder, he knew the sight of it must upset her terribly, the prince sheathing his sword. It was nasty business, the killing of that man, but Lotor felt it was necessary, a reminder that the people gathered in this mansion needed. To talk back to their princes was treasonous, even more so was the act of striking Doom royalty. They couldn’t be allowed to get away with it.
And yet it had bothered Allura, and for that he was sorry, Lotor walking towards the bathroom. He gave the view screen a passing glance, noting that both sides of the battle had lost several of the larger ships. Lotor knew that he really needed to be watching the battle, and yet he couldn’t leave Allura alone. Not in the state she was.
“Allura?” he called her name out softly, fist raised to knocked on the door. A retching sound was his answer, Lotor wincing at the sound. “Can I come in?” She didn’t answer, so he opened the door, catching sight of her kneeling on the floor. A tissue was in her hand, the girl wiping at her mouth. She looked up at him as he entered, eyes brimming with tears, a sight which had him sighing.
“I’m sorry you had to see that.” He began, shifting awkwardly towards her.
“Why….why did you have to kill him?” She tearfully asked, and Lotor looked at her with surprise in his eyes.
“Why? She nodded at that, and Lotor paused. “Allura….surely on Arus they did not allow the common people to strike the ruling class!”
“We wouldn’t have killed them!” She retorted, shaking her head. “They would have been reprimanded….”
“Reprimanded? With what? A mere slap on the wrist. A night’s stay in jail?” Lotor asked, and she shrugged. “Allura, I know things are different between our cultures, but there has to be common boundaries for the people. It would be sheer and utter chaos if they were allowed to do anything they wished without repercussions!” Allura just stared at him, making him sigh again. “Allura, you saw them. They wanted to hurt you…”
“They wanted to kill me.” She whispered, proving she had understood enough to pick up on their murderous intent.
“Yes…you’re right about that.” Lotor agreed. “Who knows what would have happened if my men and I hadn’t arrived on time.” She seemed to shiver at that, Lotor kneeling besides her to offer a comforting touch to her back. “Even on Arus, I’m sure the people weren’t allowed to just kill someone because they felt like it.”
“No, they weren’t, but….”
“But what?” He urged her when she fell silent. Now it was Allura’s turn to sigh, the girl looking down at her lap.
“But they have valid reasons for feeling animosity towards me.” Allura words made him frown, Lotor touching her face.
“Valid or not, trying to kill an innocent girl is a crime.” Lotor began, but Allura cut him off with an angry cry.
“But I’m not innocent! Not of this…! It’s my fault the war is even happening!” He saw her make fists on her knees, Allura looking frustrated. “It’s my fault that people died today…that man you killed….I might as well have been the one to do it.”
“No! No Alllura, it’s not.” He pulled her protesting form onto his lap, Lotor sitting flat on the floor to cradle her against his chest. “It’s Merla who attacked Doom. And you didn’t make that man throw that piece of fruit. It’s his own fault that he was killed.”
“But he died because you wanted to protect me.” She whispered into his shirt.
“He knew what he was doing, what he was saying. And if he didn’t, then he was a fool.” Lotor told her. “He committed an act of treason today, and had to be made an example. Otherwise the others gathered here would have thought themselves free to do whatever they wanted.” She just sniffled at that, face buried against his chest. Lotor let his nose brush the top of her head, taking in the scent of her hair.
“It’ll get worse.” He continued. “At least in the cities.” She glanced up at that, blue eyes shining with her worry. “No one at the castle will dare harm you, but it’s too unpredictable here.”
“When will we be allowed to return to the castle?” Allura asked, and Lotor shrugged.
“I don’t want to make any promises….” He began, thinking he’d better put some more pressure on Cossack to find that second witch. “If all goes well, we could return home as soon as tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow.” She repeated, looking relieved.
“Yes.” Lotor nodded at her, then reached to touch her bruised cheek. “How did this happen?” His voice was soft as he questioned her, Allura placing her hand over his.
“It’s nothing…” She began, and he snorted at that.
“It is not. Someone dared to darken your skin, and I want to know how.” Allura looked uncomfortable, trying to turn away from him. “Allura tell me.”
“Will you kill the person who did it?” She questioned, voice hoarse as though she would start crying again.
“No…” Lotor sighed out an answer. He meant it too, he’d do almost anything to keep her from crying once more.
“I don’t know his name. But it was a man….he slapped me before the guards could intercede.” Allura told him, forcing Lotor to hold back an angry growl.
“Poor thing…” he said instead, trying for a soothing lilt of his voice. He caressed her cheek just above the bruise, grateful that was all the injury she had sustained. At least physical, Lotor knowing she was bound to be traumatized mentally and emotionally. “Let’s get a cold compress on that.”
Allrua shifted at his hand’s urgings, moving off his lap. Together they rose, Lotor helping her to her feet. She watched as he began running the sink’s water, wetting a hand towel in the process. She said nothing, allowing him to press the towel against her bruised skin. “Now….just keep holding that in place.” Lotor advised her, and turned to shut off the sink.
“Lotor…? Don’t you have a battle to watch?” He turned to look at her, reluctantly nodding.
“Yes, but it can wait.” It really couldn’t, he needed to know what was happening. And yet he couldn’t stand the thought of leaving her alone while she felt vulnerable.
“But nothing…” Lotor insisted, reaching for her free hand. “You’re more important than any battle.” He chuckled at her surprised look, pulling her close so that her body pressed tight against his. “Why do you look so surprised? You have to know how much you mean to me.” He kissed her then, just a quick, innocent peck on the forehead. It left her blinking owlishly at him, Allura turning pink from the gesture.
“But still I think you should watch the battle.” She allowed him to lead her back into the room, Allura glancing towards the view screen just in time to see a star cutter explode. She made a dismayed sound, Lotor holding her close.
“It’s all right.” He whispered, feeling her shake her head no. “We’ll win this….”
“I hope so…”
“I know so.” Lotor insisted, and hugged her. She didn’t return the gesture, but nor did she stiffen in his embrace. “Let’s get you comfortable.”
“Comfortable?” She echoed, following him towards the couch. He sat her down on it’s cushions, back against the pillows and her legs laid out straight before her. The couch was long, leaving her feet several inches short of the other side of the sofa. Allura continued to hold the wet compress to her cheek, silent as she watched him move. Lotor fetched a knitted afghan off of a nearby chair, and placed it over Allura.
“When my men come back, I’ll have them raid the kitchen for you.” Lotor said, then added hastily. “That is, if you still feel like eating.” She just nodded, watching him as he walked towards the view screen. Halfway there, he paused to pick the remote up off the floor, pressing a button that made sound return to the room. Immediately he could hear Cossack’s voice, half angry half panicked, shouting out questions.
“Prince Lotor, sire! Can you read me?! Answer me damn it!”
“I’m here.” Lotor said, his voice calm but weary. It was a calmness the commander clearly disliked, the Drule swearing under his breath before unleashing his anger on the prince.
“Damn it, what is going on over there?! You’ve been out of communication for more than fifteen minutes!”
“There was a little problem…” Lotor began, but Cossack was already retorting, cutting him off.
“While you’re off doing the Gods only know what, we’ve lost several more ships to that weapon of Merlas! General Altidavis is panicking, and his men are in no better shape. This is no time to disappear! Do you know—”
“Allura was in danger.” Lotor said quietly, amidst Cossack’s rant.
“….what it’s like to…” Cossack trailed off, Lotor’s words registering. The prince could imagine the look on the commander’s face, the Drule stunned and gaping at nothing in particular. “Danger? How? Is it the baby? Is stress from what’s happening hurting them somehow?”
“No nothing like that.” Lotor assured him, glancing at Allura who rested on the couch. She was watching Lotor, looking as though she was focusing all her attention on him and not the view screen he stood before. “Some of the mansion’s guests decided to take it upon themselves to end this war with Merla.”
“What do you mean?” asked Cossack, voice tight with tension.
“They wanted to kill her.” He heard Cossack’s gasp, Lotor hurrying to continue. “She’s shaken but otherwise fine. My men are currently escorting the would be killers off the property.”
“Do you need me to come there?” Cossack demanded. “I can gather up some more men, and rush to the city.”
“There’s no need, and it’s too risky to travel right now.” Lotor was almost amused by Cossack’s concern. “My men and I have everything under control. But do try to hurry it up with getting Haggar out here by tomorrow.”
“You can count on me Prince Lotor!” Cossack said, tone earnest. “I’ll get the witches out there even if I have to deliver them personally to you.”
“I know you will Commander.” Lotor said, studying the screen. He picked out General Altidavis’ flag ship, the large cruiser pulled in close to an Amazonian defender. The flag ship was using the Amazonian space craft as cover, it’s shield not even flickering as the defenders’ weakly fired on the cruiser. Smaller craft buzzed around both ships, star cutters engaging the fighters from Amazonia’s side.
Pressing a button on the remote, Lotor heard the sounds of Altidavis speaking, the man issuing orders to his crew. All outward appearances showed a semblance of order on the ship, but Lotor picked up on the underlying tension in the crew’s voices.
“Prince Lotor, sire!” Altidavis sounded relieved, as though Lotor’s active presence in the battle would make all the difference. “We’ve pin pointed where those beams are coming from.”
“That’s good.” Lotor nodded his approval, though the man surely could not see the action. “Now it’s just a matter of reaching them.:”
“A task that won’t be easy.” Altidavis lamented. “The Amazonia armada is playing hard ball, and none of the star cutters can get past the heart of the ships to reach the rear. That weapon of theirs has fired a second time, though damages were minimal this time around due to our close proximity to the Amazonian armada.”
“Keep close to those ships then.” Lotor advised. “Do what you have to, to get through their blockades, and take down the ships carrying those weapons.”
“As you command Prince Lotor.” Altidavis said, then spoke to his men. “Open a channel to the other ships. I would have them follow these orders.”
Paying close attention to the general’s words, Lotor continued to watch the battle, seeing several of Doom’s star cutters ease off their attacks on Merla’s fighters. Instead they moved into formation, a grouping of more than fifty star cutters barreling forward, dodging laser beams as they made a determined run towards the middle ground of the enemy armada.
Missiles were unleashed on some of the ships, the large behemoths unable to easily evade the barrage. Small clouds of smoke erupted on the surface of a ship, the devastator injured but not destroyed. The star cutters zig zagged to avoid the returning fire, a few bursting into flames as they were hit. The remaining star cutters flew upwards, a new wave of ships coming forward to shoot desperately at the devastator.
Some of Amazonia’s fighters abandoned attacking Doom’s larger ships to lend aid to their side, flying after the star cutters. Both sides made it a hassle to land hits, the small craft able to maneuver more easily than the larger ships could ever hope. The big ships were moving, slow and steady, Doom’s ships trying to get in deeper into Amazonia’s territory.
“Lotor…” Allura’s voice had him turning, Lotor making sure to steel his expression to be unworried when facing her. “We’re doing badly, aren’t we?”
“No, not at all.” Lotor assured her, moving towards the couch. “Doom is more than holding it’s own.”
“But Merla has that weapon of hers.” Allura pointed out. She sighed at his surprise look, voice taking on a chiding tone. “I am getting better with the Drule language. When a person is calm and doesn’t speak too fast, I can understand them better.”
“Ah, so you’ve been following what’s being said. It’s really nothing to worry about. We may have sustained some losses, but it doesn’t mean the war is over with yet.”
“I pray that you are right.” She murmured, Lotor sitting down next to her on the couch.
“Prayer can’t hurt at this point.” He said gently.
“What….what will happen if we lose this battle?” Allura asked, allowing him to put his arm around her. He ended up leaning against the back of the couch, Allura’s head resting on his shoulder as he thought about her question.
“Well, it won’t mean an end to the war. Not yet at any rate. Right now, Merla, she fights for the right to land her ships on Doom. She’ll still have to fight our ground forces before she can reach the castle…”
“What if the ground forces fail?” It was a question with no easy answers, Lotor hesitating. “Lotor? Tell me.”
“We’d be in trouble then.” Lotor admitted, and felt the tremor that shook Allura’s body. “But it won’t come to that! I promise you.”
“It’s not something you can be sure of.” Allura pointed out with a sigh.
“If I have to, I’ll send you away.” Lotor began, seeing Allura peer up at him with surprise. “I’ll use Haggar’s magic to cloak your ship, and get you past Merla’s forces. I’ll do anything I have to, to ensure you and our baby survives.”
“What about you?” She asked softly, and he shrugged.
“It’d be enough for me to know you still lived.” She looked troubled at that, Lotor setting down the remote to pet her hair. “I won’t abandon my planet. Not to that bitch Merla. I’ll fight her….to my last breath if need be.”
“I wish you wouldn’t. That you didn’t have to.” Allura said, voice soft with upset.
“Merla’s brought the fight to us, but I’ll be the one to end it. One way or another.” Lotor told Allura, enjoying the silky smoothness of her hair against his fingers. His touch didn’t have a calming effect on Allura, the girl looking worried. “Here…” He stretched out next to her on the couch, his long legs reaching past hers to dangle off the other end of the sofa. “Try to get some rest. Tomorrow will come all the sooner if you sleep.”
“I’ll try to.” She said, watching as Lotor lowered the volume of the view screen with the remote. “Lotor?”
“Will you stay with me? At least until I fall asleep?” He smiled at her request, nodding his head.
“If you let me, I’d stay with you always.” She was quiet at that, snuggling closer against his side as she closed her eyes. Lotor stared down at her face for a few seconds more, and then was turning his attention back to the view screen. He could see not much progress had been made since his talk with Allura, and that frustrated him. It left Lotor wondering what would be needed to win in this war against Merla……