Slave 071

He had long since grown used to the sounds of the battle, the laser fire a constant buzz that faded into the background until it was practically unnoticeable. It was the same for the missiles and their whistle trails, and the ships exploding, the noise barely registering as he lay there on the couch. Voices came and went, Lotor ignoring them for sleep, his body at last giving in to slumber’s demands.

He felt disgusted with himself upon awakening, curled up in an uncomfortable position across the couch’s cushions, his legs dangling off one end. Lotor couldn’t believe he had fallen asleep, and staring at the chrono meter revealed hours had gone by, enough time for a new day to dawn on Doom. Even as he grudgingly admitted to himself that he had needed the rest, he jerked up to a sitting position, glancing at the view screens that sat situated across from the couch.

The battle was still raging, ships flying about, their weapons firing on all cylinders as they fought each other. Doom’s numbers might have dwindled down while he slept, but there was still just enough ships to keep Amazonia’s armada from landing on the planet. It could be hours, or it could be days before the enemy forces managed to take the surface of the planet, Lotor growling under his breath at how badly the battle was going for Doom.

The help that they needed was on it’s way, surely the forces from Veneg had to be just minutes away from arriving in Doom air space. But Lotor didn’t hold much hope that the fleets from Veneg would turn the tide of the battle in Doom’s favor, at best they would merely delay Merla’s people. It was a delay that would be welcome, buying Doom time for the rest of their reinforcements to arrive.

It was cutting the fight close, leaving everything up to chance as to who would win. Lotor grimaced as a Doom devastator was blown to bits right before his eyes, the prince swearing under his breath as he stood. He felt each ship’s loss like a personal insult to himself, knowing good men were lost, the destruction being a drain on many of the Empire’s resources.

He turned away from the screens, stretching out his body, listening to the cracks of his bones as he raised his arms high above his head. The act helped to wake him up more, Lotor striding over to his bar, fingers touching the many colorful bottles of liquor that sat there. But he went without imbibing any of them, reaching instead for a bottle of water, draining it dry in an instant.

He eyed the desk shoved in the corner to make room for the additional view screens, seeing many piles of paper work spread across it’s surface. Although it wasn’t as much paper as there could have been, Doom’s forces too busy fighting and dying to have time to file many reports. A cursory glance at the paper work would show the reports had to do with the ground forces, training results, and requests for Lotor’s approval to sign off on various missions. Reports about Arus were there also, detailing the progress of the pilots who were getting a crash course lesson in flying the lions. As well as data on the lions themselves, especially the newest one to be found, the lion of water.

Lotor didn’t think water sounded like a very viable fighting tool, and was pleased to note that in addition to holding powers related to water, the lion could also solidify the liquid into a hardened substance. The ice attacks were very lethal, sharp shards that could cut into metal. That sounded more promising an attack than it’s water cannon, though Lotor supposed it was useful for putting out fires.

Lotor couldn’t wait to see the lions in action, eager to see their mighty powers put to the test against Merla’s armada. He was especially interested in seeing how they stood up against the beam weapon of hers, although he feared what would happen should they fail. He knew his father’s displeasure would be great indeed, but they might not get a chance to come to verbal blows over the lions if Merla seized control of the planet. They’d be too busy fighting for their lives.

He shook his head, trying to chase off such thoughts as he set down the bottle. He had much to do, the least of all reacquainting himself with the current progress of the battle. But right now he wanted to check on Allura, wondering if she was any closer to finishing translating the message found in blue lion’s lair.

Running a hand though his hair in an attempt to straighten out the ruffled strands, Lotor stepped out into the hallway that connected the two chambers. He barely noticed as the guards patrolling this stretch of corridor bowed to him, Lotor striding towards the door that would bring him to Allura. He made sure to knock before entering, having to strain his ears to hear the distracted reply of hers.

She barely looked up when he stepped into the room, the girl sitting on the floor, surrounded by papers. They were almost all of blue lion’s lair, shots of the writing carved into the stone walls. Some of the pictures had the writing so small as to be useless, the symbols blurred and unreadable. Many of the photos were detailed close ups of each symbol, and Lotor wondered if there was a pattern to the way she had spread those particular pictures on the floor.

Allura had a piece of glass in her hand, and on occasion she would hold it over a symbol, using it to magnify the size of it even more. She was currently frowning, and he caught a flash of pink on her lips, Allura’s tongue sticking out in concentration. She was still wearing the same dress as the day before, hinting at the fact that she had foregone sleep this past night in order to concentrate on the symbols.

He was pleased by her enthusiasm for her task, Lotor figuring one night without sleep wouldn’t harm her or the baby in the long run. A note pad was besides her, and he could see her neat handwriting scribbled across the paper. He stepped closer towards it, and heard her gasp out a warning, Lotor carefully avoiding treading over the photos on the floor.

“Have you eaten yet this day?” Lotor asked, trying to get a look at the note pad. He didn’t recognize the written words, realizing she was translating the symbols into modern day Arusian.

“No not really…” Allura muttered, reaching for the note pad to write something down on it. The pen wove it’s way across the paper, Allura writing quickly on her latest finding. “Cossack was by earlier with some breakfast…” She glanced up in the direction of the table, Lotor spying the cold breakfast laying there.

“You should really eat…” Lotor told her, walking towards the table. “It might do you good to take a break. Tackle the symbols with a fresh mind.”

“I’m close.” She said instead, crawling over to another photo, the magnifying glass in her hands again. “I feel like I am on the verge of a break through…”

“That’s good.” He selected a croissant, noticing the bread was cold and soggy, it’s cream having had time to soak into it’s surface.

“It’s fascinating, really…” Allura said, her voice taking on an excited tone as she stared down at the photos. “I’m learning so much! Especially about the lions!”

“Does it say where they come from?” Lotor asked, taking an interest in her words. “Or how they were made?”

“Not exactly…” She answered, bending closer to the photo she was currently studying. “It repeats the legend I told you about them…Their origins are steeped in mysticism. But it says here…” She straightened up, and looked at the photos, at last gesturing to one batch in particular. “That they are old….as old as Arus itself. If I’m reading it right….they were…born when the planet was still new.”

“Born?” echoed Lotor, taking a bite of the croissant. “Odd way to phrase it.”

“Perhaps.” She agreed. “But….the way these symbols are read….the elements themselves conceived of the lions. Lava was the womb that nurtured the lion of fire, the desert sands yellow lion, water blue lion, and the winds green lion.”

“What of the fifth lion?” Lotor asked, curious about the missing lion and it’s powers.

“Well it says here…” Her finger pointed out three symbols, Allura looking up at him. “Lightning itself poured down from the sky, striking a stone statue. It brought the statue to life, imbued with the power of lightning, and a roar that could rival the thunder.” Her voice had taken on an awed whisper.

“Thunder and lightning eh?” mused Lotor out loud. “Sounds like a viable weapon to me.”

“Oh it is!” Allura cried out, taking hold of her note pad. She began flipping through the pages, ready to read things off to him. “The symbols say the final lion is the most powerful. The biggest, the strongest. It’s speeds put the other four to shame. It’s..” She frowned at her notes, hesitating. “Something about the body, the main….component? Yes…component, I’m sure of it. The main part of Voltron.”

“Does it say how to form Voltron?” Lotor asked, and to that Allura shook her head no.

“I’m sorry…I’ve seen nothing like that. At least….not yet.”

She looked so dejected, he felt bad for her, Lotor trying to cheer her up with his words and a smile. “Don’t worry. We’ll figure it out. Voltron will live again.” Though inwardly he had doubts, wondering how the lions would fit together to form the bigger robot.

“I hope so.” Allura said, tone expression deadly serious. “I just hope he won’t be angry…”

“Angry?” Lotor quirked an eyebrow at her, and she flushed.

“Over what happened to Arus and it’s people.” Allura clarified. “And that he will be used as a weapon of war…”

“AH.” Lotor kept from saying anything else, inwardly amused. He remembered her telling him Voltron was a sentient being, but he didn’t believe that. Powerful as it was, it was still just a robot, a tool to be used in the war.

“The ancients even had a name for my castle.” Allura added, clearly trying to steer the conversation elsewhere.

“Oh? It’s mentioned in the message?” Lotor asked, intrigued despite himself.

“Yes. The castle of lions.” She told him, fingers brushing over one of the photos in a reverent manner. “Apparently once my ancestors were charged with watching over the lions….but somehow….something must have happened to make them forget about them. I don’t know what…” Allura looked sad at that, staring down at the photograph.

“Well…” Lotor began, trying to break up the silence. “Everything happens for a reason.”

“A reason?” She glanced up at him, frowning. “What reason could there be for my planet to lose it’s protector?”

“Maybe so we could meet?” He said it serious enough, but she fixed him with a curt glare, not liking his suggestion at all. “Never mind.” Lotor sighed, setting down the croissant’s remains. He wiped his hands with a napkin, looking away from Allura.

“It’s strange…” She said at last, her words grabbing his undivided attention. “The castle is mentioned several times here…it specifically mentions something about it…I’m not sure I got the wording right though…”

“Relax and it will come to you.” Lotor offered as a suggestion. She nodded, picking up a photograph, turning it this way and that to stare at it from all angles.

A knock sounded at the door, Allura absentmindedly calling out a word. “Enter.” But she was all focused on the symbol, not even looking to see who was letting themselves into her room.

“Commander.” Lotor said, surprised to see him. “What brings you here?”

“I was looking for you.” Cossack explained, not bothering to shut the door behind him. “I figured if you weren’t in the office, or in the bedroom watching the battle, you had to be with Allura. And it appears I was right.” He gave a crooked smile, pleased at his deduction skills.

“What is it you need?” Lotor asked, taking note of Cossack’s jovial mood.

“Just thought you needed to know….” His grinned widened, the commander approaching the breakfast table. He tsked at the sight of the nearly untouched meal, glancing at Allura. “You didn’t eat…”

“Cossack!” Lotor said his name sharply, wanting no distractions. “What is it I need to know?”

“Oh! Right!” Cossack said sheepishly. “Our forces from Veneg have arrived. They’re currently engaging the rear of Merla’s armada.”

“Fantastic!” Lotor smirked, the look vicious in his pleasure. “We’ll have them boxed in from both sides now…”

“And with some luck, we can take out that weapon of theirs!” Cossack added, sharing in Lotor’s glee.

“Does that mean the lions won’t be needed?” asked Allura, looking up from the photograph.

“Not exactly…Our forces from Veneg add to our numbers, but Merla still outnumbers us greatly. We’d be very lucky to win this war with the amount of ships we have out on the battlefield.” Explained Lotor. “You shouldn’t give up on deciphering the symbols…”

“I won’t…” Allura promised. “It’s just…” She sighed then, staring down at the floor. “I think the language is proving to complex even for me. I mean….I am not sure I am understanding these new symbols correctly…”

“What’s the problem?” A concerned Cossack asked.

“Well…” She touched the photographs, squinting at the symbols on their surface. “It seems to be saying the lion is inside the castle. But…how can it be?” She looked up, meeting Lotor’s eyes. “We would have known if that was the case…”

“Inside the castle…” mused Lotor. “It couldn’t hurt to check. What else are you having trouble with?”

“Something about stone…about stone needing to be broken to find the final lion…..”

“Like it was in the legend you deciphered?” Lotor asked, and Allura nodded.

“The whole castle is made of stone…” She look frustrated, clenching her fingers into tight fists. “We can’t take apart the whole building looking for the lion!” She looked worried at Cossack and Lotor’s lack of response, starting to rise up to her feet. “Lotor? No! It’s my home….you can’t be seriously thinking to destroy it!”

“No…not destroy it….just..maybe poke around it a little…” Lotor said, trying to calm her.

“You’re lying to me!” She cried out, gesturing wildly with her fists. “You’ll bring down the whole castle if it aids you in your search! Lotor, that place is my home, all my happy memories are there….my family is buried there!”

Lotor strode towards her, not caring that he was stepping on the photographs, causing them to slip and slide across the floor. “Allura, calm down….If we do this, it’s for the greater good…”

She struggled when he took her in his arms, pushing at his chest to escape him. More papers and photos moved across the floor, uncovering new pieces in the process. “It’s not for the greater good!” Allura denied. “It may bring peace to Doom, but you’ll use it as a weapon of devastation to the rest of the galaxy!”

“Only to those who fight us.” The commander said, and Lotor shot him a glare.

“Cossack you are not helping things!” snapped Lotor, annoyed.

“Sorry boss.” He said sheepishly.

“He’s right though….isn’t he?” Allura demanded.

“I’m sorry Allura…” Lotor said, and she let out a loud wail of grief. “I have to report these findings…my father will want me to have our men get started right away on… searching the castle…”

“No.” A sob escaped her, and though he tried to pull Allura to him in a comforting hug, she fought him. Fought him to the point he reluctantly let her go, Allura dropping to the floor. He wouldn’t be surprised if her tears drops weren’t already hitting the photos’ surface, the girl sniffling loudly. A glance at Cossack showed the commander looking uncomfortable, the Drule shifting from foot to foot.

“I’m sorry.” Repeated Lotor, and turned away from her, wondering how he could make this better. Maybe if he had his men preserve some of the things they found inside the castle….tangible memories he could give to Allura, she wouldn’t be so upset.

Cossack was eager to go, already backing slowly towards the room’s door. Lotor held his head high, even as he inwardly cringed at Allura’s tears, walking to join his commander in his flight from the room. The pitiful sounds of Allura’s crying chased them into the hall, Cossack quickly shutting the door behind them. “You sure about this boss?” He asked, staring hard at Lotor.

“No. No I’m not.” Lotor sighed, fingers rubbing his temples. “But what else am I to do?”

“I don’t envy the situation you’re in…” Cossack said, and Lotor let out a humorless snort at that.

“Why does everything go wrong for us?” Lotor wondered out loud. Cossack had no answers, leaving the prince to sigh as he began walking the corridor. He knew he should head to his office, and inform General Dicorta and General Labreaza about where to begin searching for the final lion. He only hoped Allura could forgive him for what he was about to do….

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