Lotor sighed, sipping on a caffeine fueled drink that was a bitter taste on his tongue. He didn’t particularly like this brown color concoction, but he needed the boost of energy it would supply him with. It had been three days since his return to the castle, three days since he had last slept peacefully, forcing himself to steal a few minutes here and there when there was moments of quiet in the battle.
Not that there was many, the ships on a constant move, their large crews on a rotating schedule that allowed them to keep fighting both night and day. Lotor had no such luxury, needing to keep an eye on what was going on at all times. He knew he was working himself towards a collapse, and yet there was little he could do to avoid such a fate, the war eating away at his mind.
It would be different if they were winning, if they had Merla’s forces on the run. Instead they were barely holding their ground, the Amazonia armada pressing ever closer to Doom. If they were to land, the fighting would take a desperate turn, Doom’s ground forces doing their best to repel the invaders and keep them from reaching the castle. Lotor was constantly worrying, wondering if the reinforcements he had called back from several planets would make it in time to prevent Amazonia’s soldiers from setting foot on Doom soil.
The closest fleet, the ones from Veneg were almost in Doom air space. If they pushed themselves hard, they should be able to reach the outskirts of the battle by the next day. Lotor hoped an attack on the invading armada’s rear would prove to be more than delaying tactic. So far, except for a few stray star cutters, none had been able to reach the rear of the armada, leaving the flag ships with their deadly beam guns intact.
Those beams were more devastating than the whole of the Doom fleet put together, wrecking ships in an instant. The only reason Doom hadn’t yet lost the battle was because those beams required time to recharge, the more powerful a burst, the longer the weapon took time to recover. Staying close to the armada also helped, Merla’s warriors unwilling to open fire on their own ships.
Lotor took another sip of his drink, disgust curling his lips at the taste. He glanced at the view screens set up in his room, each one showing a different angle of the battle. They were on a continuos feed, allowing him to keep track of just what was going on and where. He was sick of the sight of Merla’s armada, hating how vast in number they were in comparison to Doom’s forces. Even with the minor victories Doom pulled off, they were unable to even out the playing field when it came to numbers.
If the fighting should come to the surface of the planet, Lotor hoped then they would prove to be more evenly matched. Already the foot soldiers were on standby, geared up and practicing their shooting techniques. Skull tanks were fueled, and ready to roll out, and Zarkon’s witch Cortana was busy picking out the best robeasts to be deployed on the ground.
Lotor had never thought he’d see the day when robeasts would be used on planet Doom, the prince shaking his head in disgust. The few witches who weren’t exhausting themselves on maintaining the castle’s shielding would use their magic to enlarge the monsters. The robeasts would do much of the fighting, Lotor hoping the battle could be contained well away from the cities and the people that lived in them.
Too many lives, as well as money, was being lost due to this war. It was fortunate that the Empire was so rich in gold, but even the deepest pockets would feel the burn if the war extended on for too long. As of right now, the castle was on careful rations, dealing out small meals. No more did his father host his nightly feasts, where tables full of endless food and drink went to waste entertaining the nobles.
And if the nobles suffered in this regard, the slaves were even worse off, their already meager rations reduced to almost nothing. The slaves were barely getting enough food to keep them going, and those people who were prisoners in the dungeons were left to slowly starve to death.
Concern for Allura and the baby kept Lotor from eating much, the prince insisting she have her fill of not only her meal but his as well. On occasion, Cossack offered up his rations, the Drule commander equally worried that the girl wasn’t eating enough for both herself and the baby. Lotor appreciated Cossack’s generosity, wondering how he could make it up to him.
Cossack continued to escort Allura to and from Haggar’s chambers, the witch doing the Gods only knew what with Allura. The girl always seemed in better spirits after a visit with the witch, practically bubbling with excitement over her minor achievements with magic. She could now call light to her hands, able to build a protective shielding around her that was still fragile and far too easily broken. But it was something, and Lotor was as proud of Allura as he was leery of the magic Haggar taught her.
So far he didn’t see the reason behind teaching Allura magic. After all his father’s witch was surprisingly inactive when it came to Allura and the baby. It was as though Zarkon did not care, as though perhaps he had given up on his disapproval of the relationship. That was enough to get Lotor worried in a different direction, but he really didn’t have time to properly devote his thoughts to what his father was thinking.
A glance at the view screen showed that so called ultimate weapon of Merla’s firing off another beam, a wave of star cutters being disintegrated in the process. Lotor bit back a curse, slamming his mug down on hsi desk, hard enough that the brown liquid sloshed over the sides. It was surprising, but the beam had come just this close to hitting one of the Amazonian defenders. Merla’s people were getting pretty ballsy if they were risking hitting one of their own ships.
He was glaring at the screen, as though his eyes could burn a hole through it when a timid knock sounded at his door. Lotor stalked towards it, jerking it open as he let out a brutal snarl. “What?!”
He immediately regretted his animosity, seeing a startled Allura standing there before him. Cossack, her ever present shadow stood behind her, frowning at Lotor for his harsh greeting.
“Is it a bad time?” Allura asked, looking wide eyed and nervous. “I can come back later.”
“No…no…” Lotor tried out a weak smile on her, gesturing for her to enter. “I could use the break.”
“If you’re sure…” She began, and Cossack spoke over her.
“He’s sure.” The commander gave her a gentle nudge towards Lotor, the girl taking hesitant steps into the room. The side of her body brushed against Lotor’s chest, the touch electric.
“Keep an eye on the battle for me.” Lotor told Cossack, who nodded.
“Yes sire. And prince? Do try your best to relax for a few moments. You look like the remains the vultures dragged in!”
Lotor frowned at that, wondering if he really looked that bad. “Keep your extra comments to yourself commander.” Lotor muttered, shutting the door in Cossack’s face. He then turned to face the room, seeing Allura looking at the view screens, her hands clasped before her in a prayer like hold. Lotor knew how painful it was for her to watch the battle, Allura being the type to blame herself again and again no matter how many times he reassured her that it wasn’t her fault.
“Sit…” Lotor said, reaching for the remote. For the first time in days, he clicked off the view screens, the room suddenly too silent without the sounds of the battle around them.
Allura sat down on the couch, smoothing her skirts around her legs. “Would you care for something to drink?” Lotor asked, and saw her shake her head no. “Are you sure?”
“I’m good.” She insisted, Lotor accepting that as fact. He approached her, trying to chase away thoughts of the battle to speak on more pleasant things. “I haven’t seen much of you since we returned to the castle.”
“I’m sorry.” Lotor apologized, sitting down next top her on the couch. “The battle is keeping me busy. So busy I’ve neglected you.”
“It’s all right.” Allura quickly said, understanding in her eyes. “I know you have duties….obligations to attend to during this war.”
“But I don’t want you to think it’s more important than you are!” Lotor interrupted her, his voice a passionate exclamation.
“I think it is.” Allura retorted. “There’s so much at stake, not just you and me and our relationship. But Doom’s future, the people’s peace and happiness.” He nodded at that, reluctantly agreeing with her.
“If we’re to have a future together, the three of us, we must first ensure that Doom has one too.”
“The three of us…” She repeated, touching her stomach. She was now two months pregnant, but had yet to start showing.
“Is it strange to you?” Lotor’s question had Allura cocking her head, confusion in her eyes. “The thought of the three of us together?” He hurried to continue, not giving her a chance to speak. “Or do you still think to leave me…leave us once the baby is born.” She looked down at her lap, and that was answer enough, Lotor feeling sad.
“It’s not that I want to leave…” Allura said after a few seconds of silence. “But….I still do think it would be best.”
“Best for who?!” demanded Lotor, seeing her dart a quick glance at his face. “If you don’t want to leave, then why do it?”
“I’m not sure I want to stay either.” That answer frustrated him, Lotor sighing loudly. “There’s good and bad points to both staying and leaving….it’s just a matter of deciding which is the better course for me.”
Lotor really couldn’t imagine there being any good points about her leaving, the prince staring at her, slightly annoyed. “If…if I go…” Allura began, once again looking down at her belly, touching her fingertips together. “I’ll be all alone. I’ll be in a strange place with no friends or family.”
“Yes. You will.” Agreed Lotor.
“But I can’t necessarily cling to the familiar either…” Allura added. “Not if it’s bad for me.”
“Bad how?” Lotor asked, causing her to shrug. “I want to understand….truly I do.”
“So you can make it better?” Her question had him nodding, and the barest of smiles crossed her face. “I appreciate that you make the effort. But I’m not sure you can change things for me…”
“I’m trying to though.” Lotor quickly said. “I’ve come a long way. I’ve matured as a man.”
“Yes, in some ways you have.” She agreed. “But in others…”
“I can do better! I know I can!” Lotor reached for her hands, squeezing them gently. “You’ll see Allura, by the time our child is born, I’ll be a different man…one worthy of your love….”
“I don’t think it’s right….not entirely to change who you are for a person. Shouldn’t I accept who you are as you are now, rather than force you to change?” She asked. It was another one of her frustrating questions, almost enough to make Lotor drop her hands. Instead he pulled her onto his lap, hugging her close to him.
“But I want to change. I want to do it for you. That’s not wrong!”
“Lotor…” Her voice was muffled against him, Allura struggling lightly to get free of his embrace. He held on tighter, not wanting to let go of her.
“Please….” He wasn’t quite begging, whispering in her ear. “Let’s just stay like this for a little while longer. I miss holding you. I miss…” He trailed off, knowing it would disturb her to hear just how much he missed touching and kissing her, and most of all being inside her.
Allura shifted in his grip, turning so she could rest the side of her face against his chest. She didn’t quite snuggle in his embrace, nor was she trying to flee him any longer. Lotor smiled, and began petting her hair, watching his blue fingers sift through the gold strands.
“Shouldn’t you take this time to sleep?” She asked, rolling her eyes upward to gaze at his face.
“Bad timing for that. I’ve just had a caffeine drink.” Lotor chuckled, the sound rueful.
“You’re going to make yourself sick if you keep up this schedule of no rest. Even Haggar says so!” Allura chided him.
“Haggar is probably right.” agreed Lotor. “But there’s so much to do, and I have to over see it all.”
“Can’t you delegate some of the work to others? To Cossack?” She asked.
“Any mistakes they make would still get blamed on me.” Lotor explained. “I’d much rather not have to explain their blunders to my father.”
“He depends too much on you.” Complained Allura, and to that Lotor agreed.
“It’s been that way since I reached adult hood.”
“Oh.” She went quiet, just resting against him, her eyes starting to flutter close. It seemed his stroking of her hair was lulling her to sleep, Lotor content to hold her for as long as Allura would allow. “Lotor?”
“Have you located the queen yet?” The question was unexpected, he could hear the worry in Allura’s voice.
“No.” A curt answer wasn’t enough for the girl, Allura opening her eyes to peer curiously at him. “Our spies can’t get close enough to the ships to tell if she is on one of them. I doubt it though, it’d be too dangerous to risk their only heir. However….”
“What?” Allura prodded him, shifting in his arms to pull back and stare at him.
“She’s suspiciously absent from her palace back on planet Amazonia. There are rumors circulating that she and a private fleet are on their way to Doom. Perhaps she hopes to take the leisurely way here, and arrive in time to claim what should be her victory.” He smirked at that. “It would make things easier if she did come to Doom. We wouldn’t have to track down her whereabouts to kill her.”
Allura didn’t question the need to kill Merla, and for that Lotor was grateful. “We have assassins waiting for the chance to kill her, and my father has set a considerable bounty on Merla’s head. Every free hand hunter in the universe will be clamoring for a shot at the queen.”
“Why hasn’t she set a price on our heads?” Allura wondered out loud.
“Heh…it’s simple really….Merla’s put all her gold into this war effort. If anything, she has little to spare on attracting bounty hunters. If she doesn’t win this war, and claim the riches of the Doom Empire for herself, she’ll be broke.” Lotor’s smirk grew wider, the prince pleased at the thought. “And that’s only if she lives long enough to experience what it’s like to be poor.” He held back his laughter, thinking lack of sleep had really taken it’s toll on him if he was this close to breaking into giddy chuckles.
“You seemed amused by the thought.” Noted Allura.
“It’s just…” Lotor shrugged. “There’s not many planets that have a fortune that can rival the Doom Empire. It takes money to fuel these ships and hire soldiers to fight. Merla’s straining her planets’ resources to wage a battle with us, and if she loses well…if we don’t kill her, the people of her planet may do the job for us!”
He felt her shiver at that, Allura upset at his words. “War is a terrible thing.” She finished solemnly, and he nodded in agreement. “Are you sure you can’t rest?” She asked, and he shrugged.
“Mind doesn’t want to shut down.”
“Here…Haggar has been teaching me some relaxation techniques. They might help ease your weary mind.” Allura began squirming, trying to pull free of his arms.
“Magic?” Lotor asked suspiciously, allowing Allura to crawl out of his lap.
“No…Just some touch techniques.” She placed a pillow on her lap, and patted it with her hands. “Here…place your head here.” She smiled at his hesitation, eyes looking lively. “I promise I will do nothing worse than massage your temples!”
“All right…” Lotor agreed, and laid down as she asked. It left him staring up at her, Lotor watching as Allura leaned over him.
“Now….close your eyes and relax…” She said, speaking softly. Her fingers touched his face, smoothing back his hair from his brow. It felt good to feel them stroking through his hair, Lotor closing his eyes without protest. Allura continued to speak, her voice a soothing sound as her fingers began rubbing his temples. Over and over she rubbed, at times ghosting her fingertips down the sides of his face, only to go back up to the temples again.
“This is nice.” Lotor admitted, feeling some of his tension ease. “Did Haggar really teach you to do this?”
“Yes, Lotor, she did.” He could practically hear the smile in her voice, Allura giggling. “She knows a lot, not just magic and potions, but all kinds of massage techniques.”
“If you ever need a person to practice a massage on, I’m your man.” Lotor announced.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Allura replied, her fingers brushing his cheeks and down towards his lips. He felt her gentle caress over his bottom lip, the touch stirring something within him. His eyes snapped open, and he saw the blue of her eyes, fixated on his mouth.
“What are you thinking Allura?” Lotor asked softly, his question startling her.
“I…” A blush was starting to color her cheeks, Allura staring at him. “I was just trying to memorize how you looked. I…I don’t want to ever forget your face, regardless of what the future holds for us.”
He was touched, his hand catching at hers, his other arm stretching up to touch her face. “Allura…” He paused, trying to think of what he wanted to say to her, not wanting to make a mess of things. His fingers touched the softness of her cheek, Allura leaning into his touch. He smiled at her, and began drawing her downwards, deciding words were not enough for what he wanted to express to her.
“Lotor…” She started to say his names, lips parted on the syllables when their mouths connected. It was almost too much for him, Lotor having gone for over a month and a half without experiencing Allura in this way. He moaned into the kiss, feeling the gasp that escaped her, the tremble that started to shake her body. He kept her pressed against him, and she didn’t put up a fight to get away, allowing him to feed feverishly at her mouth.
Her mouth moved against his, lips not only yielding, but molding to his. When he pushed his tongue into her mouth, Allura did not shy away from it, touching the tip of her muscle to his. They mingled tongues together, and only when it seemed like they would suffocate each other with their need, did Lotor allow the kiss to be broken. He listed to her panting, Allura trying to catch her breath even as he pressed his lips along her jaw.
“I love you…” He began, and then was moving to catch her lips again. He heard her answer as a muffled squeal, Lotor’s hand moving into her hair, pulling it free of the clasp that tried to keep her hair off her face. He wasn’t sure where this kiss would lead them, Lotor content for the moment to simply lie there with her bent over him. But the feel of Allura moving her lips against his sent pleasured signals down his body, a body that had gone far too long without her.
He wanted her. He needed her. He had to have her, now and in this moment, consequences be damned. If he had to, he’d kiss her into submission, keep her mouth so busy she’d never have time to say the word no. It was perhaps a dirty trick, but Lotor was rapidly losing all sense of honor in the face of Allura’s kiss. He growled against her lips, wondering how he was going to flip her over when they were in such an awkward position when he heard it. The door opening.
A low whistle accompanied the door’s movements, Cossack having the good sense not to start clapping. Lotor growled, releasing a shocked Allura to glare at his commander. “You have got the worse timing.” Lotor hissed, a look of cold fury in his eyes.
“You’ll thank me in a minute.” Cossack said, smiling good and wide. Allura was blushing, and looking anywhere but at Lotor and Cossack, still bent awkwardly over Lotor. He realized she couldn’t move because he was still holding onto her hair, Lotor reluctantly letting go of her. She quickly straightened, then went still with shock at Cossack’s words.
“The latest lion has been found!”
Suddenly the interruption didn’t look quite so bad, Lotor finding he was allowing a small smile to cross his face. With this lion found that meant only one more to go! Perhaps the final lion would be discovered in time to turn the tide of this battle.